When will my baby start making friends?

Obviously you’re Baby’s best bud, and they like hanging out with their family more than anything, but they might be a little slower to start bonding with other children around their own age. It might be a little disappointing if they hasn’t yet hit it off with your best friend’s child, or hasn’t bonded with the cool baby on the playground, but it’s got more to do with the stage of life that Baby is at than it does with their taste in playmates.

So when will Baby blossom into a social butterfly? Or even just be up for hanging out with the baby on the next swing over at the park? Probably not as soon as you might think. Even a lot of the most socialized children often don’t start really interacting with their peers until they’re between 3 and 5 years old.

Before Baby starts getting to know their future BFF or playmate-of-the-day, when they are in social situations, they will probably either play alone or with an adult. As they grow nearer to a year old, they may start to play beside other children, and maybe even look over at them, clamber over them, or take a toy from them, all without really engaging with them.

This process can be strange to watch, but it’s perfectly normal, and is called ‘parallel play.’ The step that comes after it, associative play, develops slowly, and doesn’t show up in some children until around 5 years old. However, signs of it can start to emerge closer to 2 or 3. Before that time, Baby will probably engage more with grown-up friends, like you, though they may also develop a strong interest in children their own age from a distance. That interest is a great sign, it just may take a little longer for it to evolve into actual, social behavior.

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