Making Friends: How Babies and Children Engage with Others

Children playing with tube toy
Category: Bookbug

Bookbug Week takes place from 14 to 20 May and this year, we’re celebrating the theme of Bookbug’s Friends. Friendships and relationships are important at all stages of life – from newborn babies up to adults. Our relationships impact on our health and well-being, sense of social belonging, and even help set the foundations for learning.

Babies are born ready for social interaction and from birth, they seek to develop relationships with others. More than anything else, parents’ voices and faces are able to calm, soothe and comfort babies. At birth, a baby can recognise its parents’ voices. They also prefer eye contact and love to look at faces - especially human faces. Babies are showing us that they want to connect with us and develop relationships. Although these may seem like simple skills, they are vital for their long-term development.

The world is a busy and chaotic place. And as babies learn to process the sights, smells and sounds of the busy world, they need a core and solid relationship to turn to when they're looking for help to interpret the world. When babies have this, they’re able to develop their own curiosity about the world. They learn to trust others, read facial expressions and understand social cues while also developing their language and communication ability – all skills that will help support them to make friends. 

Babies and children form friendships and engage with others from a very young age. They make eye contact to get and maintain attention, they babble and vocalise to have a conversation, and they reach and grab as a form of play. They even develop strong relationships with toys, and chat happily away as they play with them. 

You are your child’s most important friend and their key relationship

Much like adults, some babies will be naturally more outgoing and enjoy socialising in large groups, and some will prefer small groups and familiar company. The most important thing to remember is that you are your child’s most important friend and their key relationship.  

Whether you choose to take part in a special event for Bookbug Week, or you have a quiet celebration at home with your family and friends, you can still help your baby and child develop their friendships. If you can’t get out to a special themed Bookbug Session, why not have your own session at home with some of your child’s favourite toys? You’ll all be forming lasting friendships for life.