Social and Emotional Development Milestones

The listed milestones below will give you a general idea of the changes you can expect. Do not be alarmed if your own baby’s development takes a slightly different course and/or pace.

By the end of 12 months

  • Shy or anxious with strangers
  • Cries when mother or father leaves
  • Enjoys imitating people in his/her play
  • Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys
  • Tests parental responses to his/her actions during feeding
  • Tests parental responses to his/her behavior
  • May be fearful in some situations
  • Prefers mother and/or regular caregiver over all others
  • Repeats sounds or gestures for attention
  • Finger-feeds him/herself
  • Extends arm or leg to help when being dressed

By the end of 2 year (24 months)

  • Imitates behavior of others, especially adults and older children
  • More aware of him/herself as separate from others
  • More excited about company of other children
  • Demonstrates increasing independence
  • Begins to show defiant behavior
  • Separation anxiety increases toward midyear then fades

By the end of 5 year (60 months)

  • Wants to please friends
  • Wants to be like his/her friends
  • More likely to agree to rules
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act
  • Shows more independence and may even visit a next-door neighbor by herself
  • Aware of gender
  • Able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Sometimes demanding, sometimes eagerly cooperative