We’ve finally moved to lockdown level 1 and life seems to feel a little more “normal” these days. However, one can’t underestimate the impact lockdown has had on everyone young and old, even your baby. These effects of this period of isolation will remain with us for some time and have created a developmental gap in children reaching their social and emotional milestones.
I believe that time will reveal the true extent of the lasting effects caused by developmental delays as a result of COVID-19’s effects.
Babies are especially vulnerable, and parents should look for early red flags in their developmental stages. Something simple like not being able to wave or acknowledge a parent and others can be a sign of a social delay, however, don’t panic too soon as developmental milestones do vary.
Children continue to develop their social-emotional skills well into their teenage years, or even young adulthood and social development is crucial for the later years in your child’s life.
What developmental milestones should my child show when it comes to social development?
The developmental stage related to social and emotional development is one that considers the noticing of and playing with others. Babies start to develop relationships with the people around them right from birth, but the process of learning to communicate, share, and interact with others takes many years to develop.
More specifically, when it comes to a 10-month old child, your baby should be babbling, making eye contact, and responding to your words and actions.
Red flags for social development
Your baby might reach some developmental milestones early and may lag behind a bit on others – this is normal. However, it may be a good idea to be aware of the signs or symptoms of a problem.
Some red flags to consider are when your 10-month old baby doesn’t:
- Use gestures, such as waving or shaking his head
- Babble or attempt words such as “mama” or “dada”
- Point to objects or pictures
- Responding to sounds
- Smile or respond to you the way you expect
- Like close contact or cuddling
- Easily console at night
- Self-soothe or calm themselves
- Have interest in games like peek-a-boo.
Promoting your baby’s development
Learning through play is essential. Baby talk is not advisable as your child is developing an ear for conversation and baby talk can create bad speech and language habits in the long term.
Tips to nurture social and emotional development especially given the isolation effects of the COVID-19 lockdown:
- Respond to your baby’s calls or signals for help and attention to build trust.
- Create and follow regular routines.
- Make lots of eye contact and smile, wave or gesture.
- Provide your baby with chances to play with other children and to be around people.
- Model good manners: use “please” and “thank you”.
- Comfort your baby, especially when they are upset, sick, or hurt.
- Talk about your baby’s emotions: “I see you are feeling sad/happy/frustrated.”
Always trust your instincts. You know your baby best, the earlier a problem is detected, the earlier it can be treated.
Kristen Lisa Strahlendorf is an experienced Educational Psychologist with a deep passion for assisting children, individuals and families in becoming the best versions of themselves. She has been in private practice for the past six years, and has worked with various schools in different socio-economic standings across the private, public, remedial environments within the Family Tree Therapy Center. Kristen is well versed in therapeutic interventions and assessment spanning across diverse demographics, private situations and schooling environments. Learn more about Kristen Lisa Strahlendorf here.