Your baby is on the move. Whether he is creeping, crawling, or cruising, he is on the move. Whatever he sees, he wants to go and get. You need to keep your eyes on him more now.
What Your Baby is Learning
Vision: Your baby’s vision is almost as good as an adult’s vision by now. He can see both short-range and long-range. He sees with clarity and with depth perception. He recognizes people and objects from across a room. And his eyes are close to their final color, though there might be slight changes for a little while longer.
Now when he sees something across the room, he has learned that if he moves, he can get it. This is the first step toward controlling the world around him.
Crawling and standing: He may be pushing himself around on his belly, scooting on his bottom using his hands and legs to push himself, or he may be moving either backward or forward on his hands and knees. Whatever way he has figured out to move, his goal is to reach something to play with. All of these variations on crawling are strengthening the muscles he will need to walk.
He may be able to pull himself to a standing position while holding onto furniture. He is learning balance and developing strong muscles. Some 8 month olds can pull themselves up, but they cannot yet figure out how to sit back down. If this is your baby, he is still dependent on you to “rescue” him when he gets tired of standing. Show him how to sit back down.
It is best not to use a walker. They are unsafe and babies need to learn to get around on the floor to gain strength and flexibility for walking.
Shoes: Don’t be in a rush to have your baby wear shoes. Walking barefoot strengthens his arches and feeling the floor helps him balance. Only use shoes when he is walking around outdoors regularly.
Hands: He can use his hands more efficiently now. He still uses a “raking” motion, but it is more coordinated now. He slides the little finger side of his hand along the table and curls his fingers around the object. His thumb holds the object against the side of his index finger. This looks more like a “monkey” grab. But he can firmly hold an objects while he mouths it, shakes it, bangs it and throws it. He is beginning to point with his index finger and he will start to poke his fingers into holes. Make sure electrical outlets are covered.
Studies have shown that the variety of sounds and the length of a baby’s utterances increase after adults spend time “conversing” with them. So keep talking!
The more you talk to him, the closer his imitations of you will sound. Understanding of the meaning of words takes time and effort. He is interested when someone important to him uses a word. He not only hears the word and the tone of voice, he watches your facial expressions and hand gestures to learn the meaning of the word. What he repeats may still sound quite different from what you say, keep talking and he will keep trying.
Although babies use a wide variety of ways to move about before they walk, babies universally develop speech the same way. All babies understand words before they can say them. The first words babies speak are remarkably like those of babies around the world. The age when a child speaks his first words does not necessarily correlate with intelligence. Generally a first-born child begins speaking earlier and better than second or third children. Single birth children usually begin speaking earlier and better than twins or triplets.
Your baby will begin showing fear of things he can’t understand. Things that didn’t frighten him before, may begin to frighten him now. Sudden noises and the unexpected appearances may bring a wail of fear. Before you try to show him about whatever frightened him, hug him, reassure him you are there and he is safe. Whenever possible, show him he has nothing to fear. For example, let him watch you make the noise or show him where the cat was hiding and where it went.
Stranger anxiety becomes more pronounced this month. At about this time we begin to recognize he is no longer a baby, but a real person. Just a short while ago, he would let anyone feed him, but now he may want only his mother or father to feed him. He is comfortable with his parents and doesn’t feel comfortable with strangers now. His new attachment to his parents is his first love affair. He wants exclusive rights to his mother, particularly. He fears she is permanently gone when she leaves for a moment. Fortunately, this stage will soon pass.
Ways You Can Help
He has been learning to see you from different angles, in different lights, with all kinds of different expressions. He knows you now because some things about you never change. He now knows some changes about you are insignificant to recognizing you. Now this process must take place for every object and person he encounters. Although the block in his hand looks different from different angles and in different light, it is still hard and smooth and the same size. After many experiments with the block he is sure it is a block whether it is in his hand or across the room. Provide him many opportunities to experiment with objects in different places and in different light.
He is also learning that even though something is partially hidden, it is still there. He has to discover that even though he only sees part of it, it hasn’t changed, it is still all there. This is the source of endless games you can play. Cover a favorite toy with something that is clear, like a plastic cutting board. He can still see the toy, but something hinders him from reaching it. Then try covering it with something translucent like a filmy scarf. Later partially hide the toy behind a piece of furniture. Over and over again, he will prove to himself that the object is still all there, even when partially hidden.
You can do something similar by hiding part of a small toy with your fingers. Hold the toy on your palm and slowly let your fingers cover the toy. First leave gaps between your fingers so he can see the toy is still there. Later cover everything but the head. And still later cover the ends, only leaving the middle exposed. You are helping him with some very important experiments.
He is beginning to understand that there is a purpose for many objects in his world. He will begin to use objects for their intended purposes. He will try to use a spoon to put food in his mouth, drink from a cup, and comb his hair. He will be fascinated with the telephone and hearing someone talk to him with it. He will begin to be able to point to the correct picture when you name an object. Some of the first things he will be able to point to are eyes, nose, mouth and also favorite toys.
Your baby is getting more mobile by the day. As he learns to stand and walk, he will be having lots of spills and bumps. This is part of exploring his world and learning his limits.
Instead of trying to keep him from ever getting hurt, make your home as child safe as possible. He has to learn for himself how to move around safely and that most falls and bumps are not serious. Comfort your baby if he falls or bumps his head, but don’t over-react. Your over reaction will cause him more fear than the bump would cause him pain. However, if he bumps his head and a lump starts to form, you can apply an ice pack for 20 minutes.
Make your home child safe by getting down on his level and seeing what he will be interested in touching and pulling himself up on. Pad sharp corners, remove poisonous house plants, lock away all medicines and cleaning supplies, cover electric outlets, put child locks on cabinets and drawers that contain things dangerous to him. Put furniture that may topple over and precious, breakable objects away from areas your baby will be using. Use child gates at the top and bottom of staircases. If you have not yet done it, lower his mattress so he cannot climb out of his crib.
Signs Serious of Injury
Call your doctor if your baby loses consciousness, becomes unusually irritable or confused, or cries or screams for an extended period of time. He could have a concussion. Immediately take him to be checked by a doctor if has blood in the whites of his eyes or pinkish fluid from his mouth, nose or ears or if he has gotten into any poisonous substances. Most children will never have this serious an injury, but it is good for you to know when to seek medical help without delay.
What to Expect Next
- Standing while holding onto something.
- Using a pincer grip to pick up objects
- Says “Dada” and “Mama” to the right parent
At about this time, some parents begin to worry about developmental delays. There is a great variety in the rate that any particular baby may develop. Sometimes a baby will develop head control at about the average age. He may not roll over for a longer than average time and then stand ahead of schedule. Most babies are somewhat ahead in some areas of development and somewhat behind in others. Some babies focus so intently on one skill at the expense of developing others. Once they have conquered that skill, they will catch up in other areas. Small variations like these are normal.
Developmental delay is a slower than average progression through the childhood milestones. When 80% of babies have completed a developmental task like sitting unaided, a baby’s development is considered delayed. Preemies often have delayed development for a while, but catch up by the end of their first year of life.
Some reasons for delayed development are heredity, muscle or nervous system problems, hearing or vision abnormalities, complications from a difficult delivery, severe illness after birth, or a lack of opportunities to develop.
The earlier delayed development is recognized the more effective treatment can be. Know the average age your child should meet developmental milestones. If he seems to be significantly behind, write down your specific observations. Talk to your baby’s doctor about what you have recorded. Trust your instincts. If his doctor does not seem attentive to your concerns, take your baby to a pediatrician who specializes in developmental issues. If your child proves to have developmental delays, therapy and Head Start-type programs can significantly improve your child’s ability to learn. For more on Developmental Delays see our Developmental Delays.
Dear Heavenly Father, my baby is proving to himself that objects remain the same and are not gone just because he can’t see them. Help me to live in a way that demonstrates my faith that You remain the same and are not gone just because I can’t see You. Help me teach by my example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen