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Home > My Child > Ages and Stages > 6 to 12 Months > Emotional Development

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Emotional Development: 6 to 12 months

Emotional Development means developing a full range of emotions, from sad to happy to angry, and learning to handle them appropriately. This leads to deeper qualities – sympathy, caring, resilience, self-esteem, assertiveness and being able to rise to life's challenges.

Emerging Skills
  • Be attached to a special toy or blanket
  • Sleep for longer periods
  • Develop separation anxiety and want to be with their caregiver all of the time
  • Look to their caregiver for reassurance in new or unfamiliar situations
  • Express a variety of emotions, such as, fear, anger, dislike and happiness.
  • Display stranger anxiety, peeking at 8 to 9 months
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your baby, 6 to 12 months.


    Through the comfort and responsiveness of an adult, babies will learn how to handle their emotions and how to seek help when needed.

    Parents Can:
  • Watch to see what helps their baby self-sooth, and encourage this behaviour
  • Allow their baby to attach to a special toy or blanket
  • Child Will:
  • Use a special blanket or toy as a way of comforting himself
  • Learn to cope with his emotions
  • Use his blanket to feel safe and secure

  • Parents Can:
  • Consistently respond to their baby's bids for attention and 'calls' for help
  • Child Will:
  • Learn that she can depend on you when she needs help
  • Learn that others are available for emotional support
  • Feel loved and secure

  • Parents Can:
  • Call to their baby when in another room, to give him reassurance that they are close by
  • Child Will:
  • Understand that you will return after a brief separation
  • Develop a sense of trust and security

  • Play

    Through opportunities for play, babies will experience joyful, free, spontaneous moments of fun while also learning about themselves and others.

    Parents Can:
  • Use everyday routines such as feeding, bathing or diapering as a time to play, for example, gentle tickles, peek-a-boo or finger plays
  • Child Will:
  • Feel reassured about what to expect and will enjoy responding to your emotions
  • Seek your attention more in order to play more

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide a safe play space for their baby, such as on the floor. Get down and join the play
  • Child Will:
  • Try to engage you using gestures and sounds
  • Communicate the activities she likes or dislikes with gestures, for example, reaching towards a toy she likes and pushing away a toy she dislikes

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide opportunities for them and their baby to spend time with other babies
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy the company of other babies
  • Try to communicate to other babies
  • Try to engage other babies with sounds or gestures

  • Parents Can:
  • Go slowly with their baby, and not force her to go to someone she is not sure of or doesn't know
  • Child Will:
  • Need time to warm up to a stranger
  • Approach someone new on her terms, for example, offering a person a toy and then taking it back or bringing out lots of toys so the attention goes to the toys rather than on the baby

  • Teach

    Through routines, and emotionally and physically safe and secure environments, babies can learn how to think, solve problems and communicate.

    Parents Can:
  • Give names to common actions and describe everyday routines
  • Child Will:
  • Start to recognize certain words or make associations between words and events
  • Try to mimic the sounds you make
  • Respond to your voice

  • Parents Can:
  • Create a routine for times when they have to be away from their baby
  • Keep comfort toys or objects within close reach
  • Leave their baby with a familiar person
  • Child Will:
  • Look to other people who are familiar for reassurance and comfort
  • Express emotions that demonstrate her attachment to you

  • Parents Can:
  • Create routines for all regularly occurring events, such as diapering, bedtime, feeding or play time
  • Inform their baby about events, for example, "I need to change your diaper. Let's take your toy to the change table"
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to learn what is happening next
  • Feel respected as an individual
  • Feel safe and secure

  • Social Development: 6 to 12 months
    Intellectual Development: 6 to 12 months
    Intellectual Development - Language: 6 to 12 months

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