National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Infants Ages Three to Six Months


Social and Emotional Milestones Examples of Typical Social and Emotional Development Examples of Risk Factors for Potential Social and Emotional Concerns
Social Development-Attachment:
  • Smiles socially in response to facial expressions and familiar voices
  • Gazes at familiar person
  • Tracks objects
  • Tracks familiar voice
  • Prefers familiar adults
  • Begins to mimic adult sounds / vocalizations
  • Laughs
  • Samuel (4 months) is lying on the floor on his stomach as his caregiver sits on the floor beside him. The caregiver rolls a ball in front of him and talks to him in a soft voice. Samuel looks at the ball, and when the caregiver speaks he raises his head to look at the caregiver and smiles.
  • As the caregiver changes Olivia’s (6 months) diaper, she says quietly, “I’m going to tickle you! I’m going to get you!” In response, Olivia smiles, looks up at her caregiver and laughs. The caregiver moves in close to Olivia and says, “Oh, you are so ticklish! Oh my goodness, listen to those laughs!”
  • Owen (5 months) is lying on the floor while his mother prepares a bottle. Although his mother knows he is hungry, he does not smile or respond when his mother comes near him with a bottle and says, “Are you hungry, Owen?” While taking the bottle, he does not look at his mother’s eyes or face.
Emotional Development:


  • Discovers and watches own hands
  • Responds to own name


  • Expresses emotions such as, fear, sadness, joy
  • Jackson (3 ½ months) and his mother arrive for group time at a local child care center. As the mother carries Jackson into the center in a carrier, he examines his hands and puts his thumb in his mouth. The home visitor walks over and as she says, “Hello Jackson!” He looks up smiles at the home visitor.
  • Ella (5 months) is napping when the tornado siren sounds. She awakens immediately and begins to cry loudly in response to the loud sound. As her caregiver approaches and picks her up, Ella clings to her and continues to cry until the alarm stops.
  • In the three months Brandy (6 months) has been in the classroom, the caregivers have never seen her smile or laugh. In fact, Brandy rarely shows any expression of emotion, including crying. Her caregivers have noticed recently that Brandy does not respond to her name like other children her age. When her grandmother comes to pick her up, she always walks directly to Brandy, picks her up and leaves without saying a word. Brandy rarely has any emotional reactions during arrival or departures.




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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation