Your baby is on the move. Whether she is creeping, crawling, or cruising, she is on the move. Whatever she sees, she wants to go and get. You need to keep your eyes on her more now.
What Your Baby is Learning
Vision: Your baby’s vision is almost as good as an adult’s vision by now. She can see both short-range and long-range. She sees with clarity and with depth perception. She recognizes people and objects from across a room. And her eyes are close to their final color, though there might be slight changes for a little while longer.
Now when she sees something across the room, she has learned that if she moves, she can get it. This is the first step toward controlling the world around her.
Crawling and standing: She may be pushing herself around on her belly, scooting on her bottom using her hands and legs to push herself, or she may be moving either backward or forward on her hands and knees. Whatever way she has figured out to move, her goal is to reach something to play with. All of these variations on crawling are strengthening the muscles she will need to walk.
She may be able to pull herself to a standing position while holding onto furniture. She 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, she is still dependent on you to “rescue” her when she gets tired of standing. Show her 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 her arches and feeling the floor helps her balance. Only use shoes when she is walking around outdoors regularly.
Hands: She can use her hands more efficiently now. She still uses a “raking” motion, but it is more coordinated now. She slides the little finger side of her hand along the table and curls her fingers around the object. Her thumb holds the object against the side of her index finger. This looks more like a “monkey” grab. But she can firmly hold an object while she mouths it, shakes it, bangs it and throws it. She is beginning to point with her index finger and she will start to poke her 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 her, the closer her imitations of you will sound. Understanding of the meaning of words takes time and effort. She is interested when someone important to her uses a word. She not only hears the word and the tone of voice, she watches your facial expressions and hand gestures to learn the meaning of the word. What she repeats may still sound quite different from what you say, keep talking and she 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 her 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 she can’t understand. Things that didn’t frighten her before, may begin to frighten her now. Sudden noises and the unexpected appearances may bring a wail of fear. Before you try to show her about whatever frightened her, hug her, reassure her you are there and she is safe. Whenever possible, show her she has nothing to fear. For example, let her watch you make the noise or show her where the cat was hiding and where it went.
Stranger anxiety becomes more pronounced this month. At about this time we begin to recognize she is no longer a baby, but a real person. Just a short while ago, she would let anyone feed her, but now she may want only her mother or father to feed her. She is comfortable with her parents and doesn’t feel comfortable with strangers now. Her new attachment to her parents is her first love affair. She wants exclusive rights to her mother, particularly. She fears she is permanently gone when she leaves for a moment. Fortunately, this stage will soon pass.
Ways You Can Help
She has been learning to see you from different angles, in different lights, with all kinds of different expressions. She knows you now because some things about you never change. She now knows some changes about you are insignificant to recognizing you. Now this process must take place for every object and person she encounters. Although the block in her 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 she is sure it is a block whether it is in her hand or across the room. Provide her many opportunities to experiment with objects in different places and in different light.
She is also learning that even though something is partially hidden, it is still there. She has to discover that even though she 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. She can still see the toy, but something hinders her 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, she will prove to herself 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 she 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 her with some very important experiments.
She is beginning to understand that there is a purpose for many objects in her world. She will begin to use objects for their intended purposes. She will try to use a spoon to put food in her mouth, drink from a cup, and comb her hair. She will be fascinated with the telephone and hearing someone talk to her with it. She will begin to be able to point to the correct picture when you name an object. Some of the first things she will be able to point to are eyes, nose, mouth and also favorite toys.
Your baby is getting more mobile by the day. As she learns to stand and walk, she will be having lots of spills and bumps. This is part of exploring her world and learning her limits.
Instead of trying to keep her from ever getting hurt, make your home as child safe as possible. She has to learn for herself how to move around safely and that most falls and bumps are not serious. Comfort your baby if she falls or bumps her head, but don’t over-react. Your over reaction will cause her more fear than the bump would cause her pain. However, if she bumps her 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 her level and seeing what she will be interested in touching and pulling herself 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 her. 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 her mattress so she cannot climb out of her 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. She could have a concussion. Immediately take her to be checked by a doctor if has blood in the whites of her eyes or pinkish fluid from her mouth, nose or ears or if she 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. She 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 she seems to be significantly behind, write down your specific observations. Talk to your baby’s doctor about what you have recorded. Trust you instincts. If her 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 Development Delays.
Dear Heavenly Father, my baby is proving to herself that objects remain the same and are not gone just because she 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 Is can’t see You. Help me teach by my example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen