The days of putting your baby in one spot and expecting him to stay there are numbered or maybe even gone for good already. An 8 month old baby is ready to move and interact more with the world around him. Parents and caregivers can help nurture this natural development.
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You may notice your baby isn’t growing as quickly as she was in the first few months of life. According to Nemours KidsHealth, a baby’s growth rate begins to slow down at this age, though she should continue to gain weight and height. Sometimes weight decreases slightly because of an illness, during the introduction of new foods or when a child first becomes very mobile, but this decrease should only be temporary. If your baby hasn’t sprouted a tooth yet, according to the Mayo Clinic, expect teething to begin soon.
An 8 month old baby can usually roll over, sit up, grasp objects in his hands, transfer objects from hand to hand and scoot forward on his belly. Some 8 month old babies may get up on hands and knees and rock forward, getting ready to crawl or even begin to crawl. To encourage crawling, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends placing fun objects just beyond his reach, encouraging him to move toward them.
At 8 months, babies begin to show more interest in examining and playing with toys, though their attention spans are short. Help your baby explore the world around her by offering objects of different shapes, sizes and colors and objects that move or show a cause and effect, such as when you press a button music plays. According to the AAP, this exploration helps your baby understand how the world works. Babies don't need fancy toys to accomplish this--try pots, pans, a spoon and a ball. Babies like to look for hidden objects now, so peek-a-boo is a fun way to further develop the understanding that objects exist when they are out of sight.
Around 8 months, babies begin to imitate gestures and sounds they hear, though actual words are a few months off. Your baby may even begin to respond to his name. To encourage language development, the Mayo Clinic recommends talking with your child, telling him what you’re doing, asking him questions and giving him time to respond to encourage conversation. Reading to your child also helps language development.
Fear or shyness around strangers may appear at 8 months. If your child is upset when you attempt to leave her with a caregiver, the Mayo Clinic recommends saying good-bye with a hug, kiss and assurance of your return, rather than sneaking away. Most likely, she will recover quickly once you are out of sight and something distracts her attention.
Not all children develop at the same rate. If your child was premature or experienced a serious illness in infancy, he may not be expected to reach milestones at the same rate as another child. Children may focus on some developmental areas over others, such as motor skills over communication or vice versa. However, the Mayo Clinic recommends talking to your child’s doctor if your 8 month old baby is not rolling over, sitting, reaching for objects, responding to sounds or visual cues, making eye contact or babbling and cooing.