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Baby Milestones: Social Triumphs

We all know to watch for those early motor skills, such as grabbing a small toy and crawling. But your baby is also starting to learn less-obvious social skills that you won't want to miss either. Experts say that infants begin to improve their ability to communicate at 5 to 8 months of age, when they may learn, for example, to follow your pointing finger or to attract your attention with a smile. "These small achievements are important because they give way later to the development of language and more complicated social skills such as responding to people's emotions," says Tricia Striano, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She observed 7-month-old infants every week until they were 10 months old to pinpoint exactly when some of these social milestones may first pop up. While all babies develop differently, here are the age ranges Striano found:

Your Social Bug
7 3/4 months to 9 1/4 months
: Your baby's eyes can follow where a finger is pointing.
7 3/4 months to 9 1/2 months: Your baby sees a toy, looks at you, then looks back at the toy, trying to get you to check it out, too (called "joint attention").
7 3/4 months to 11 1/4 months: Your baby realizes you're teasing her when you pull a toy out of her reach.
8 1/2 months to 11 1/4 months: The joint-attention trick, but with the addition of a smile.