Younger Infant: Self-Regulation

Infant opening mouth as spoon with food is approaching.

Self-regulation is an important part of social emotional development for infants. Healthy relationships are the cornerstone for progress in this domain. At this stage, children begin to understand limitations, start to show an ability to manage own behavior, become increasingly independent, and even develop stress management techniques.


Age: 0-8 Months
Domain: Social Emotional Development
Sub-domain: Self-Regulation


Progress and Support

Younger infants show progress when they

  • use a pacifier or thumb to sooth themselves when upset,
  • expect to be comforted when they cry,
  • open mouth as caregiver is feeding them with a utensil,
  • try to find a familiar adult, toy, or blanket,

You support development when you

  • support the child’s moves toward self-regulation by removing distractions, loud sounds, and bright lights when necessary,
  • make sure the child has plenty of time to explore his environment,
  • talk to the infant about what you are doing while you are doing it,
  • notice strategies the child develops when trying to calm himself down.

Resources: Minnesota’s early childhood indicators of progress, 2007

Author: Nate McCallister

Nate McCallister started with SonShine Learning Center in 2003 as a preschool teacher. Today, he works as the organization’s director of operations and is the site director at the Luther location. He earned a bachelor’s degree in technical communication and professional writing from Metropolitan State University and studied early childhood education at St. Paul College.