How to socialise your baby if you live away from close family and friends

With nuclear families becoming the norm, especially in urban areas, bringing up a social baby can pose quite a challenge. The child sees only her parents on an everyday basis and this might make her uncomfortable around other adults. Or even children! The baby might cry when visitors come over or get cranky when in crowded places. All this can be upsetting for a new parent who wants her baby to flash a cute smile and show off those adorable dimples instead of scaring the living daylights out of unsuspecting guests.But how do you do it? As you probably know by now, children in real life aren’t as malleable and pleasant as the affable babies who totter around on white couches in advertisements. They have a mind of their own and hell hath no fury like a baby who is…well, a baby.Start slowBabies have a good instinct for danger. They might pop the occasional cockroach into their mouth but when it comes to people, they don’t trust strangers. Would you fall into the arms of someone you just met three seconds ago and allow them to kiss you all over? NO. And yet, we hardly ever respect a child’s need for space and their discomfort when others touch their bodies. If your child isn’t used to seeing people other than her parents, this discomfort can be especially acute. When you take your child out, don’t pressurize her into responding to everyone who waves at her or pinches her cheek. Hold her firmly and closely to your body so she gets a sense of security. Give her time to make up her mind about the new person. It really is all right if she doesn’t feel friendly.1

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Create opportunitiesTake your child out frequently to safe places where she can play freely. Your community park or play area is a good place to start. She will find it easier to meet new people when she is in a familiar space. Once you set a routine, your child will start looking forward to it and gain confidence to make friends with the adults and children she sees there.Pass on the good vibesChildren tend to be stressed when their parents are. They can sense the tension and become uncomfortable themselves. If you are anxious about how your child will respond to someone new, it’s likely that you will pass the jitters to your child. Relax. It’s not the end of the world if your child doesn’t make someone squeal in delight. Switch off the helicopter modeIn your eagerness to socialize your child, don’t interpret her gestures and words for others when she’s trying to communicate with them. Allow her the time and space to say what she wants to say by herself. This will help her build her communication skills too.Use technologyJust because you stay away from family and close friends doesn’t mean your child should grow up without getting to know them. You can show her pictures, tell her stories about them, what they feel about her and so on. You can fit in the occasional video call so she gets to see them in live action too!Accept your childDespite your best efforts, it might seem like your child is not the most gregarious baby in town. This really is all right. All of us have different personalities and your child is a person in her own right. If she’s not naturally sociable, don’t force her to be so. Speaking negatively about her personality traits can affect her confidence and make her even more withdrawn. Instead, focus on being an accepting and affectionate parent. There’s no one textbook that can teach you all that’s there to know about parenting. All the problems that seem unsurmountable right now will appear laughable in a few years because the new worries are far worse! So kick back and relax…your baby’s grumpy face is just as adorable as her smiling one.