6 months old: Emotional development

6 months old: Emotional development

Your baby’s emotional development at 6 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: 6 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.
  • If your baby is distressed, they may turn away from whatever is bothering them, or suck their thumb or an object for comfort.
  • They may react to the emotional tone of your voice. For example, they may get scared or cry if they hear you raise your voice in frustration.
  • They’re figuring out what they like and can express their food preferences. They may wince or spit when they don’t like a particular texture or taste and make happy sounds when they do.
  • Your baby may be content to play by themselves in their crib, in their playpen, or on a blanket on the floor.
  • They become distressed when they’re separated from you. For instance, they may start crying when you put them down for a nap and leave the room.

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

  • Distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces.
  • React to strangers.
  • Show a preference for a particular toy or object (e.g., a teddy bear, a security blanket) and use it to self-soothe when they’re alone.

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 become aware of your baby’s self-soothing strategies and encourage this behaviour,
your baby learns how to make themselves feel better when they’re upset.
When you respond to your baby’s happy coos and squeals by making noises of your own,
they feel loved and learn to express their emotions.
When you mime different emotions like joy, anger, or fear,
your baby is amused and becomes familiar with each facial expression.
When you play peekaboo with your baby,
they get used to seeing you disappear and reappear.
When you leave your baby with a familiar, trusted person,
your baby learns that people besides their parents can comfort and care for them.
When you leave your baby with a caregiver and they follow your usual routine,
your baby is comforted and learns to feel safe around other people.


Naître et grandir

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


Photo: GettyImages/Kosamtu



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