When will my baby start making friends?

Obviously you’re Baby’s best bud, and she likes hanging out with her family more than anything, but she might be a little slower to start bonding with other children around her own age. It might be a little disappointing if she 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 her 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 her future BFF or playmate-of-the-day, when she is in social situations, she will probably either play alone or with an adult. As she grows nearer to a year old, she 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 she may also develop a strong interest in children her 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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