Social and emotional development: nine to 12 months

By nine to 12 months, your child will start learning how to express themselves and their emotions, as well as establish positive relationships with those around them. This is considered part of their social and emotional development.

Developmental milestones include:

  • He is aware of strangers and tends to pull away from them, preferring instead to stay with familiar people
  • He may develop separation anxiety. Leaving you, even for a familiar family member, may cause him to get upset
  • By 10 months, he can hug you
  • He can play peek-a-boo

What can I do to encourage his social and emotional development?

  • Stay calm in the face of his separation anxiety. When you do need to leave him with another carer, show him that you are confident that he will be OK – don’t draw out the good-byes and don’t go back once you’ve left
  • Enjoy all the cuddles you get!

Signs that suggest a developmental problem:

  • He doesn’t show any preference for, or pleasure when he sees, familiar people
  • He doesn’t show any anxiety when he is separated from you

All children are different and develop at different rates, so don’t be overly concerned if your baby is acquiring new skills at a different rate to those around her. But if you are worried about her development, talk to a health professional for a little reassurance.


This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government’s Parenting and Child Health and Raising Children Network.

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