10–12 months old: Emotional development

10–12 months old: Emotional development

Your baby’s emotional development at 10–12 months old. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Emotional development allows children to understand, express, and manage their emotions as they grow. Children also develop the ability to recognize and interpret the emotions of others, which helps them build relationships with those around them.

Emotional development: 10–12 months old

At this age:

Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • Your baby is getting better at telling people apart and recognizing different facial expressions.
  • They pay attention to and are influenced by your emotional reactions.
  • They can express sadness, joy, anger, fear, hurt, and discomfort and are attentive to these emotions in others.
  • Your baby shows affection with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and smiles.
  • If they get upset, they may crawl away, rock back and forth, cuddle a security blanket, or suck their thumb or an object to soothe themselves.
  • They gradually start to seek affection when they’re upset (e.g., by reaching up to be held).
  • Your baby is learning that people continue to exist even when they vanish from view. Gradually, they’ll understand that when you leave, you’re not gone forever.

Over the next few weeks, your baby will begin to do the following:

  • Look to you or their caregiver when something new happens to know how to react. For example, if they hear a loud noise, they’ll be reassured if you remain calm.
  • Increasingly communicate their likes and dislikes (e.g., by refusing to eat certain foods or taking off their clothes).
  • Express when they’re scared or anxious, and react fearfully to situations that they used to enjoy.

How can you help your baby progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your child’s emotional development.

When you respond calmly to your baby’s cries and explain what’s happening,
they’re calmed by your words and tone of voice, and learn to imitate your reactions in certain situations.
When you hug and kiss your baby,
they feel loved and want to respond to these gestures of affection.
When you give your baby opportunities to play with others,
they gradually learn how to communicate and express their feelings.
When you exaggerate your emotional reactions (e.g., surprise, sadness) to certain events,
your baby learns that people react emotionally to different situations. They have fun waiting for your reaction.
When you understand your baby’s emotional reaction and explain what triggered it—for instance, by saying, “Oh, the doorbell startled you!”—
they’re reassured. They learn that their reactions are normal and that you care about how they feel.
When you talk about emotions on a daily basis—for example, by saying things like, “I was afraid the plate would break when I dropped it! That’s why I jumped,”—
your baby understands that everyday events can elicit all kinds of emotional responses.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Chloé Gaumont, M.Sc., psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2020


Photo: GettyImages/PeopleImages



Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Doré, Nicole, and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. “Your child’s development.” Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec. www.inspq.qc.ca
  • Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. “Emotional Development in Childhood.” September 2011. www.child-encyclopedia.com
  • Ferland, Francine. Le développement de l’enfant au quotidien : de 0 à 6 ans. 2nd ed., Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2018, 264 pp.
  • Passeport Santé. “Développement de bébé à 10 mois : ce qui change.” 2017. www.passportsante.net
  • Shaffer, David, et al. Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood. 5th ed., Quebec, 2019, 613 pp.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Sunderland, Margot. The Science of Parenting: How Today’s Brain Research Can Help You Raise Happy, Emotionally Balanced Children. DK, 2008, 288 pp.
  • Université de Montréal. “Portail enfance et familles : Les étapes de développement de l’enfant de la naissance à l’adolescence.” www.portailenfance.ca
  • Zeanah, Charles H. Jr., editor. Handbook of Infant Mental Health. 4th ed., Guilford Press, 2018, 678 pp.