7-8 months: baby development

7-8 months: baby development

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Baby development at 7-8 months: what's happening

Around this time your baby starts working out how to learn more about his world. For example, he'll look closely at objects like rings or bells, uncover toys after seeing them hidden, bang blocks together and look for them when he drops them. He'll still put most things into his mouth too.

Your baby is getting lots of practice picking up things and uses her fingers to catch and drag objects towards her.

Crawling, rolling or shuffling are all ways your baby might be moving around. He can sit on his own and might also pull himself up onto his knees.

At this age, your baby loves playing with you and really enjoys playing peekaboo, ringing bells and finding toys. Copying what you do and making funny sounds or animal noises together with you are lots of fun for your baby. Playing together also helps baby feel loved and secure.

Your baby is babbling. Her babbling might even have up and down tones that sound almost like talking. At this age most babies still use body language to communicate, like making noises to get your attention . If your baby is an early talker you might hear her say 1-2 words like 'mama' or 'dada', but she won't know what these words mean.

At this age your baby's emotions are developing, and he'll let you know when he's happy or upset. He might show strong attachment to you and other close family members or carers, but he's still a bit afraid of new faces. This might show up as separation anxiety and stranger anxiety, which are normal parts of children's development around this age.

At this age your baby might also:

  • try to chew, which means she's now ready for food mashed or minced into small pieces
  • try to feed herself - for example, by picking up her food or holding a drink bottle by herself
  • look for family members if you ask her to - for example, if you say, 'Where's Mummy?', she might look around for her mother
  • stand with help.
You'll be surprised at how far your baby can roll and crawl, so always watch your baby and never leave him unattended on a sofa, change table or bed. It doesn't take long for baby to unexpectedly move into or reach for something that puts him in danger.

Helping baby development at 7-8 months

Here are a few simple things you can do to help your baby's development at this age:

  • Talk to your baby: your baby is interested in conversation, so talking about everyday things like what you're doing will help her understand what words mean. And the more talk, the better!
  • Listen and respond to your baby's babbling: this will build his language, communication and literacy skills, and make him feel 'heard', loved and valued. Responding by talking or making sounds in your own warm, loving way is important. Your baby will enjoy hearing your voice go up and down and love watching your face as you talk to him.
  • Read together: reading, talking about pictures in books and telling stories develop your baby's imagination. These activities also help her build the skills she'll need to understand language.
  • Introduce new foods: you could give your baby homemade foods like ground-up meats, whole rice or soft bread. Just make sure the solids are small and mushy enough to prevent choking. You could also introduce cereal softened with water, expressed breastmilk, formula or a little bit of full-cream pasteurised cow's milk. But at this age breastmilk or formula should still be baby's main type of milk feed.
  • Spend time playing outdoors: your baby will love being out and about with you - there's so much to see and do. When you're outside, remember to be safe in the sun.
  • Prepare your home for a moving baby: it's a good idea to look at how you can make your home safe for baby to move about in.
Sometimes your baby won't want to do some of these things - for example, he might be too tired or hungry. He'll use special baby cues to let you know when he's had enough and what he needs.

Parenting an eight-month-old

As a parent, you're always learning. Every parent makes mistakes and learns through experience. It's OK to feel confident about what you know. And it's also OK to admit you don't know something and ask questions or get help.

With all the focus on looking after a baby, you might forget or run out of time to look after yourself. But looking after yourself physically and mentally will help you with the understanding, patience, imagination and energy you need to be a parent.

Sometimes you might feel frustrated or upset. But if you feel overwhelmed, put your baby in a safe place like a cot, or ask someone else to hold her for a while. It's OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. You could also try going to another room to breathe deeply or calling a family member or friend to talk things through.

Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.

It's OK to ask for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for your baby, call your local Parentline. You might also like to try our ideas for dealing with anger, anxiety and stress.

When to be concerned about baby development

See your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your eight-month-old is having any of the following issues.

Seeing, hearing and communicating
Your child:

  • isn't making eye contact with you, isn't following moving objects with his eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
  • isn't babbling
  • isn't turning his head towards sounds or voices.

Your child isn't smiling, doesn't show whether she's happy or sad, or shows little or no affection for carers - for example, she doesn't smile at you.

Your child:

  • isn't rolling
  • feels very floppy or stiff
  • can't sit up or stand up with your help
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other
  • has difficulty eating solid foods.

You should also see a health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills that he once had.

You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.

Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you're worried about whether your child's development is 'normal', it might help to know that 'normal' varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn't quite right, see your child and family health nurse or GP.