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.

Comfort
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.
Teach
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.
Play
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: iStock.com/lisas212

 

Sources

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. “Croissance de bébé à 6 mois : quatre pattes et premières dents.” 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.

 

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