7–9 months old: Social development

7–9 months old: Social development

Your baby’s social development at 7–9 months. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Social development refers to the ability to build harmonious and positive relationships with others. As kids develop socially, they learn how to communicate and manage their emotions, consider other points of view before acting, resolve conflicts, cooperate, and participate in society. A child’s temperament, primarily determined by genetics, influences how they interact with others from an early age. However, they continue to develop social skills as they grow, learning from personal experiences and the people around them—namely, their parents and family members.

Social development: 7–9 months old

At this age:

  • Your baby enjoys games that involve interacting with other children (e.g., rolling a ball back and forth).
  • They cover their eyes to signal that they want to play peekaboo.
  • They’re becoming more mobile and can interact with others using their body. For instance, they may observe, touch, smile at, imitate, or hold objects out to other people.
  • Your baby likes to be with other children and tries to engage with them through affectionate (e.g., stroking, kissing) or aggressive (e.g., biting, hair pulling) behaviours.
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.
  • They want to participate in social interactions and will try to delight adults with silly antics, for example. When you laugh and applaud, they’re encouraged to continue this behaviour.
  • They’re growing increasingly attached to you.
  • Your baby is anxious around people they’ve had little or no contact with (i.e., unfamiliar faces).
  • They may cry if they can’t see you for a few minutes.
  • They react when they don’t want to do something. For instance, they may get fussy and cry because they don’t want to wear their snowsuit.
  • They imitate the behaviours of others and respond to people’s emotions. For example, when you give them a kiss, they may want to kiss you in return and see your reaction. If you respond with a happy smile, they’ll imitate your behaviour the next time you kiss them.
  • Your baby intentionally points to the objects they want.
  • They shout when they want attention and make urgent, emotional noises to interrupt conversations.
  • They can express several emotions, including joy, surprise, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear.
  • They enjoy physical games, like when you tickle them intensely, bounce them on your knee, or toss them in the air.
  • They’ve latched on to transitional objects (e.g., a security blanket, a stuffed animal) that make them feel safe when you’re away.

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

  • Demonstrate that they have power over their environment. For instance, they may show you their toy by holding it at arm’s length but not actually give it to you.
  • Express jealousy. For example, they may scream when you take care of another child.
  • Learn to protect themselves and their belongings.
  • Feel anger without it being directed at someone.
  • Be less cooperative at mealtime and bedtime.
  • Pay attention to what others are doing (e.g., watch someone scribble on a piece of paper).
  • Make sure you look when they point to something.
  • Be persistent and refuse to be distracted.

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 baby’s social development.

When you pretend to look for your baby while describing what you’re doing—for instance, by saying, “Where is Mathys? Where is he? Oh, there he is!”—
your baby becomes aware that they’re separate from you.
When you teach your baby how to wait their turn, using a soothing voice and giving them a hug when they get overexcited while playing with others,
they’re reassured and understand that you’ll be there when the game is over. They also learn that you can help them calm down in social situations.
When you let your baby spend time with other children,
they learn to enjoy playing with others.
When you let your baby decide which game to play,
they use sounds and gestures to express their preference and enjoy feeling in control of the situation.
When you let your baby warm up to others at their own pace, without forcing them to interact with anyone they distrust or don’t know,
they learn that they can take their time and engage with a new person when they’re ready.
When you play peekaboo with your baby and encourage others to do the same,
your baby learns that people continue to exist even when they can’t see them.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Annie Goulet, psychologist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: March 2020


Photo: GettyImages/LSOphoto



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
  • 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. “Le développement de bébé à 7 mois : ce qui change.” 2017. www.passeportsante.net
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Your child’s development: What to expect.” www.caringforkids.cps.ca
  • Université de Montréal. “Portail enfance et familles : Les étapes de développement de l’enfant de la naissance à l’adolescence.” www.portailenfance.ca
When you respond quickly and appropriately to your baby’s cries,
they feel safe and cared for. They’re reassured and can calm down more easily.
When you cuddle and talk to your baby affectionately,
they feel soothed.
When you carry your baby in your arms, in a sling, in a baby carrier, or skin-to-skin,
you’re helping them get to know you (e.g., your smell, your voice) and their surroundings in a safe environment.
When you play calming songs for your baby or sing them a lullaby,
they enjoy these new sounds. Over time, this music will become familiar and comforting.
When you allow your baby to grab your finger while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding,
you’re giving them a positive tactile experience.
By feeding your baby when they’re hungry,
you let them know that you can meet their needs.
When you smile at your baby,
they recognize you.
By learning how your baby likes to be held and soothed,
you help them feel calm in your presence.