Do Babies Really Need Lot of Interaction with Other Babies?

Updated on August 20, 2010
S.K. asks from Chicago, IL
19 answers

My son is 4 months old. We had actually registered him in a daycare which is very good but wont be sending him there atleast for one year as he was born early.
Here is the reason I am asking this question - My family thinks it's better to send kids to daycare as they will get a chance to interact with other kids and that's better for their development than staying at home alone with a nanny all day. Also , most of our family/friends are yet to have babies, so I don't think we will be able to get him to interact with lot of kids his age. Esp with winter round the corner, I don't think it will be a good idea to join mom-baby groups anytime soon..I am worried about germs,RSV ... long story! But the question is how much interaction is needed for babies? I will make sure to have our friends over on weekends so that his parents aren't the only people he will know.

We understand daycare can make him sick all the time and as much as we dont want him to get fall ill , we dont want him be become a loner too. Can babies get bored that young? What activities did you do with your baby esp during long , boring winter months that could help with his development? I am planning on daycare for him next summer but will have a nanny at home until then.

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answers from Norfolk on

No. Babies love looking at other babies faces, but they don't interact or play cooperatively together till they are about 3 or 4 yrs old. A non breakable mirror will be great entertainment for a baby and have a lot fewer germs. My son started daycare at 3 months (when maternity leave finished) and he caught everything. As a baby he didn't care about playing with other kids.

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answers from Boise on

Looks like I am the odd one out here in my opinion. If the question was you versus daycare, then no, they don't need daycare, but if it is nanny versus daycare, I see the benefits of daycare. They get to interact with lots of adults and kids. They may not NEED this, but I think it is very beneficial. Plus, if one teacher is sick, there are other teachers to fill in. If a teacher has to go to the bathroom, take a lunch break, etc., there is someone to fill in. Also, it is easier on the child to start now, rather than at 1.5 (if you are planning on sending him anyway), as he will know everyone already and you won't have to transition to it.
Part of my opinion could be because I haven't even found a babysitter that I am happy with, that I can't imagine finding a nanny.

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answers from Honolulu on

No. And, the immune system of a baby is not fully developed yet at this time.

Babies, do not 'play' interactively. They do what is called "parallel play." Look it up online.

Also important at this age is 'bonding' with the parent. This ALSO aides in the development of a baby....

ALSO, babies, do get over stimulated very easily and quickly... and then over-tired. So, usually 'activities' for babies are short. They are not like an older child that has all day activities. And babies also nap a lot.... which is also important for development and growth.

AND, depending on what you are doing, a baby is more prone to getting sick... and whether or not baby is getting vaccinations, they can get sick.
Then, just having normal daily activities with a baby, even if it is just with you and doing errands, is exposing them to contagions.... but also building their immunity too.

You don't have to worry about 'interaction' for your child yet. He is so young. When he is a Toddler, say about 2-3 years old... then at that point, a child does benefit from socialization. More so. Per their developmental age-juncture and age-stage.

Your thoughts on it is perfectly fine. YOU are the Mom. Do as you see best for your baby... and in light of winter time coming up and the usual seasonal illnesses that arise. ie: Flu etc.
When my kids were the age or your baby... I too, during seasonal illness times.... I CHOOSE what and where to take them, to prevent serious illness.

He will NOT be a "Loner." He is only 4 months old. He will not get 'bored.' At this age. Babies, amuse themselves as well. ANYTHING is stimulation for them. Even a bath.
Having a Nanny for him is perfectly fine. And then that way, you can tell the Nanny what/how/when as far as what you want for your baby and/or his schedule/naps/routines.

Don't worry about it. He is so young. I have 2 kids... who are 4 and 7 years old. They did not have a sense of 'boredom' until about 3 years old.
Per their development.... and personality.

Babies, do NOT have to be constantly amused. They do get tired/over-stimulated and also just hanging out is 'learning' for them. ANYTHING in their environment, is 'stimulation' for them. Even if just watching you clean house.

your son is so young. Don't feel pressured.

all the best,

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Nope--babies just need and want their mommies!

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answers from Los Angeles on

My kids never went to daycare but from what I've heard the providers are taking care of all these babies so not giving a whole lot of one on one attention right? Your baby is only 4 months old and needs that one on one attention even if it's from your nanny. If I was given the choice I would choose a nanny at this age without a doubt.

Good luck with your decision!

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answers from St. Louis on

I don't see a need for it. My son if finally just NOW playing with other children and he just turned 3. Technically parallel play is how toddlers are playing with other children since they're side by side, but there isn't much interaction. I don't think a child will be harmed in a social aspect by not being around other kids that young. I wouldn't worry about it until he's at least preschool age.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

They don't need it. They need family interaction. God put babies in families, which provide all they need socially. Daycares were only invented so that mothers could work away from their homes. Before about 30 years ago, it was unheard of to send a baby to a daycare. Even 30 years ago, it was unusual for a child that age to be in the care of someone other than his mother. Daycares started for the preschool age, and even then it was not hugely used. Today, we are all backwards, thinking that they "need" it. Hogwash. If anything, it gives them a harder time attaching closely in relationships. It is more of a handicap for kids than a blessing.

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answers from Columbus on

Babies don't need babies, they thrive on adult interaction, once they realize that we are there and know that their bodies stop where ours start!

Children do enjoy the company of other children, but not until they get quite a bit older. You should really not have to think about this much until preschool age, as little ones do just fine with adult company until they are walking and talking, in the preschool years. If you don't introduce peers until 18 mo to two years or even a little later, they will still be fine.

Loners are loners by temrament, it is hard wired. You do not have to worry either way, you cannot stunt his development or keep him from being as he is going to be anyway. At the baby stage you can enrich his enviornment, and make sure all that his physical and emotional needs are met and that he is happy, rested, healthy and stimulated. Most good adult care for babies and infants do that quite well without another baby around.

He has plenty of time to be in day care with other children in the preschool years and beyond. Right now, you should do what is more comforting to you. If you can afford a nanny, he sure would be exposed to fewer illnesses, which could be very important to a premie, even once they are home. He will not suffer any developmental loss by being without other children as an infant.


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answers from Augusta on

nope babies don't really need interaction with each other.
My oldest was pretty much only around one other little one when she was a baby and that was closer to a year old and it was only a couple of times. She is the most social kid around now.
Babies don't really need entertaining. a couple of toys on a quilt spread on the floor is just fine for them. Maybe shaking the toys a few times to show them what they do, putting them just out of reach to encourage them to move towards the toy.
Too much stimulation is bad. Many parent's over schedule even their infants , babies play they don't do activities.

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answers from Washington DC on

I completely disagree with the notion that kids are better off in day care than one-on-one so they can be around other kid. Having a single person give undivided attention to a child is so critical for a child to develop properly. Yes, a child should socialize, but being in a classroom with rotating providers is NOT optimal. Day care is stressful for kids who have to wait for attention and become frustrated. And you have to drag them outside everyday - it basically becomes a job for them much like you go to your job. And there si the biting an dthe hitting and the germs.... Children need time for freedom and flexibility - to play, to nap and eat when they need to, not be on a fixed schedule, etc.

My oldest child was in a very high quality day care facility as an infant and toddler. We loved it for her, and we chose it for the reason that had nothing to do with socialization - I could not feel I could ever trust a nanny with my child and preferred the secutiry of multiple teachers and cameras. I only worked part-time and the school had a unusually low child-techer ratio.

However, I never saw day care as an optimal choice. My second child stays at home with M. oart-time and grandma part-time. I get so much joy from seeing her experience the "real" world - going to the grocery store, loading the dishwasher and doing the laundry, playing what she wants to play and allowing her to be the "boss" all day long, or going to playgroups with friends and at a time of our choosing.

They will be in school the rest of theri lives. If you feel comfortable with a nanny overall, then I think you would being giving your child a great gift of one-on-one time with an adult. There are PLENTY of opportunities to socialize your child with other kids. Giving him a stable loving adult who can focus on his every need is a wonderful thing. The first few years go by sooo fast. babies won't get bored with a single adult - he will thrive from teh love and attention and be MORE secure because of it - so that when he enters social situations he do well becaue of that secure base.



answers from Davenport on

I wouldn't think staying at home with a nanny all day would be any "worse" for him developmentally than staying home alone with M. all day, as long as you have a good and competent nanny who loves him! No different than the first or only child af any stay at home mom. My first daughter and mow both my son and daughter stay at home alone with M. all day nearly every day. We have never really joined any mom/baby groups because I am surounded by moms who work in our little town and all their kids are in daycare, so there really anren't any options like that nearby - and aour town is only 1400 people, and the closest one of any decent size is 45 miles away, so we don't have lots of "kiddy class" options either. That said, my kids are perfectly happy, have never really been sick much because they aren't around all the other kids and germs, and they are not socially stunted or anything.

Really, at your baby's age, just learning about their body, their environment/home and the people around them, and accomplishing their physical and mental development milestones are all the "entertainment" they need - you don't need schedules special activities or other kids, or "classes" at all. Just human interaction, daily routines and experiences, and good sleep and nutrition, and some tummy time and lots of talking/reading and singing to them.

Take them outside for walks, even bundled up in the stroller in the winter! Read lots of board books, few words, big pictures, go to the park, take baths more for fun than for cleanliness, they don't get very dirty at that point, do tummy time, sing silly songs, put the baby in a high chair to watch you cook, talk to them about everything you do and see. They will be fine!

Visit family and friends and go shopping with them in tow, talk to people, they don't have to be around other babies to be social/learn those skills, they learn from watching you! Yes, they CAN get bored, but only if they are ignored for a long time, all they need is s new toy and some interaction from an adult to be not bored, not a classroom full of toher kids and teachers.

Good Luck, if the nanny is more affordable, stick with that, almost as good as having a stay at home mom, I would say, as long as it is a great nanny!




answers from Columbus on

No, I don't think they do. They just need lots of interaction with their parents. I have a large family so my kids play with their cousins when we have family get togethers and I have a couple good friends I get together with and our kids play. My oldest daughter is going into the 1st grade and she did wonderful making friends and exceeded in learning in Kindergarten without daycare/preschool.
We read to our kids a lot, our 8 month old loves reading and eating books :) Babies will play with just about anything you give them. Just go to and look at toys for birth-12 months to get some ideas.



answers from Minneapolis on

My recommendation is Early Childhood and Family Education classes through Saint Paul Public Schools. Most classes meet once a week. You get time with other parents, your baby gets time with other babies, and you learn about games, child development, and any thing else parent or child related.



answers from Green Bay on

A baby does not need daycare but it is good as they get older to learn to play with other children . And yes there are germs at daycare there is no way to stop it . There are germs every were you are going to take your baby .I work in daycare and I have two kids of my own so I have both sides . My daughter went to daycare the first year of her life and she was fine a cold here or there but nothing bad . My son did not go to daycare tell older and he still had colds it is going to happen . Unless you plan to sanatize every one that comes in contact with your child .In daycare we get the kids from 6 weeks on that do good and bad with other children and then we get the kids who come at a older age that have no other siblings or do not interact with other children and do bad or good . It all depends on their personalities . If they they are shy or out going . It is your choice to do what you want but when ever you bring your child to daycare be prepared to have him get sick because he will the first year of daycare or school is rough with all the new germs . Oh and one more thing babies do get one on one attention at daycare a good teacher finds time to have one on one time with each baby and as they get older also. So when some one tells you that they are wrong . Babies get all the love they need and want I work in the infant room and that is the best time of the day when we can just sit and hang out and one on one with a baby .



answers from Duluth on

Don't buy it, hun. I had a few people make M. feel extremely guilty for staying at home with my son and not sending him to daycare to be around other kids. After talking to my husband we decided that we like what we do and we think our son is happy. We are expecting baby #2 so he won't be "alone" for long. We go to playgrounds and he sees a LOT of other kids there and we're almost constantly around other people. From what we can tell our son is a happy and well adjusted 18 month old. We won't be sending him to daycare. We're a little more relaxed about things though because we have not encountered the issues that come with a preemie and having to watch out with germs etc. For activities, we do pudding paint at home (get a white pudding and put different food colorings in it for edible paint), real painting, simple art activities, we go outside a lot since we live in the country. We read a lot, go to playgrounds of course and my son runs all my errands with M. which includes visiting Dad at work, visiting great grandma at the nursing home, visiting family when they're home. He "helps" M. cook simple things.. ie- he's the taste tester. He helps M. garden which mostly consists of him raiding my strawberries, blueberries and raspberries then digging in my garden. It all works out though. He's not a loner, will approach kids and adults without being prompted and plays well with other kids. He's never bit anyone, rarely hits and is very active. I think the only time he gets bored is when I'm not feeling well due to early pregnancy and I can't do much to get him out of the house or play at home.

So no, your little one does not need daycare. You're at kind of an odd age where they're becoming more active, but still need so much one on one care. It will be easier to plan things and do interesting activities when he's a little older. Right now its lots of tummy time, toys, you can still sit and read with him, sing kids songs and stuff. In the winter one of my son's favorite things was to play at a bay window we had and watch the snow plows and drive his cars. He loved the plows and trucks! We would get bundled up and go out and watch them too.He wasn't too into the snow, but it was new at least. Don't get M. wrong, the daycares now are usually great and when I worked at one I know the ladies in the infant room absolutely loved their job and the kids they worked with.. as did all the other teachers.. But I personally like having my son at home and I will have all our other children stay at home too. At least until preschool. So you're not alone, and you're not doing your child a disservice by keeping him at home.

By the way- anything a daycare can do in terms of potty training, teaching to dress etc can be done at home too. Its simply one on one work. They will get that no matter what.



answers from Minneapolis on

At 4 months, no need to worry about daycare now. However, later is a different story. Unless you have a interactive neighborhood with lots of other kids, at least think about daycare a few days a week! Kids need other kids. Kids also need germs! Especially at young ages. That's how their immune systems get built up. As long as you make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats healthy foods, and gets enough sunlight (Vitamin D), yes--he'll get sick, but he'll be able to fight it off much more quickly on his own. That's how humans evolved.

I'd start with daycare after one year of age.

Because kids like to try to copy each other, daycare really helps when you will want to potty train, teach children how to dress themselves, teach them how to share, learn how to make friends, etc. Especially if this is an only child.

Since I have to work full-time, I started my (only) child at 8 months at full-time daycare. Yes it was hard at first, but it was the best thing I ever did for him. I was estatic that this daycare had pets (like dogs) because I wanted my child to be exposed to all sorts of dirt, dander, and germs. (I work full-time, so I can't have a dog.) Yes, you read that right! And know what? he's 5-1/2 now and besides the continual runny nose that all kids get when they're teething, he's only been sick twice in his life (with strep throat). He has no allergies whatsoever. (Knock on wood.)



answers from Appleton on

You have got to be kidding!!!!! All this germaphob stuff will actually make your child sicker and more likely to pick up every little bug - cold - flu - etc once he gets to school. Yes kids do pick up colds and flu from one another at daycare but this also helps to boost their immune systems. When the kids get to kindergarten they become sick less often.
You are probably using all anti-bacterial cleaners in your home too. STOP NOW!!! Children who grow up in home that are too clean develop allergies faster than kids who don't. Allgeries are the immune system out of wack because it has nothing to do. Yes I know you don't believe M. so do your own research.



answers from Madison on

Babies are adaptable.

I stay at home with my 2 kids (2 1/2 year old boy and 8 month old girl). The advantages: I know who is with my child and what is happening; I know what my children eat and their diapers are changed frequently; they haven't been sick much, although, we had a few colds b/c of interacting with other children (my baby had RSV at 3 weeks because she got it from her brother who got it from a community playtime!); my children don't hit, slap, bite, kick or such - I believe b/c we don't have tv AND these are not behaviors that my husband and I do so they haven't learned them.

I have noticed that my 8 month old is "learning" faster than her brother did. Meaning, she is more developmentally advanced at this age than her brother was. I think it is because she is a girl and also because she learns a lot from him. So an advantage to daycare or interactions with other children is that. However, I don't feel that my children are deprived or developmentally challenged in anyway b/c they are not in daycare.

For my sanity, I look for opportunities to get out of the house and interact with other people - children and adults alike. So, we go to the library for storytime or the playground or the zoo or community events.

Good luck with whatever you chose. I've learned that there isn't a "right" way to parent. I make the best choices I can and then I work the decisions and results.



answers from Minneapolis on

Seems like there are a lot of different opinions on this. My son has been in daycare since 8 weeks and I feel it was a good thing. The teachers in the infant room were so loving and caring that if I couldn't be there during the day, I wanted to make sure he was exposed to that. Obviously we looked a LOT to find the best place we were comfortable with. They held each one individually as much as they could. I believe at an in-home, they are watching kids of all ages and may not bve able to give your child that attention. I think you are fine if you can stay home with him for a little longer as far as interaction with kids his age but I say by at least 12 months they definitely get it and start to interact more. I just see how much my son has thrived where he is and how much he loves being around his friends. And with a second one on the way, considered changing due to the cost, but don't want my second child to not have the same opportunity I see my first experiencing. We will make it work. As far as germs...they are everywhere and kids should be exposed to them. They say if they aren't exposed in daycare, then they'll be exposed when they hit school age. The exposure helps build up their immune system at the young age. All I can say is don't let other people make up your mind for you. You do what you are comfortable with, but also don't let your fears hinder your childs experiences and opportunities to be a kid.

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