The Eighth Month: Curious and Tempermental

by Don Bower

Not only is your baby's world fascinating -- so is she! This eighth month she continues to grow, develop and change.

Baby's Development

Have you noticed that your baby understands more of what you say now? Many children at this age are beginning to associate whole ideas quite well. Because their ability to remember is also improving, some very interesting behavior can be expected this month.

Does your baby notice when something "new" appears in her room? Many 8-month-olds can now remember what an entire room looks like, so, when entering a room, your baby may go directly to a new object and start examining it.

Surprisingly, this age child is beginning to make time associations. Does your child move toward the door before Daddy comes through it at the end of the work day? Does she ever drop something and cover her ears, anticipating the sound it will make? She is developing important new thinking skills and abilities.

Watch for the Following Mental Developments:

  • Curiosity about everything
  • Imitation of you and your behavior
  • Transfers objects from one hand to the other

Your baby must learn to trust herself and her own body before she learns to crawl or stand. Many babies will begin to creep this month, and some will crawl. A few active babies may even learn to stand. Most babies will begin experimenting with standing, so here is what to expect.

Starting in a seated position, most babies will draw their knees in toward their chests and pull on a crib side or chair into a squatting type of position. They will be unsteady at this point, not quite standing or sitting. Most babies will eventually try pulling up by moving one hand over the other until they are standing at full height. This will take a while.

After standing has been accomplished, a baby must learn to sit down! This may take several weeks, and you may expect many banged heads and bottoms. You can help give your child the idea of sitting by moving her body into a sitting position as she would need to do herself.

Other Physical Developments to Expect Are:

  • Appears to dance when held in standing position. (This is the first stepping reaction.)
  • Can get into a sitting position alone and sit without support.
  • Has pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger together).

Baby's Temperament

Your baby is probably more temperamental and difficult this month than ever before. There are reasons for her behavior. Have you had difficulty getting your baby to bed and getting her to sleep through the night? Many 8-month-olds are restless. Their world is so exciting now, they simply cannot make themselves "leave" it to sleep. However, their sleep is important, so you will probably have to force the issue. These suggestions should help get your child to sleep:

  • Always put her to bed at about the same time within her routine.
  • Put her to bed in the same room and bed where she will awaken.
  • Involve her in "slow-down" (relaxation) activities such as bath time, snack time, soft music and reading.
  • Cuddle and talk with her a few minutes before sleeping time.

Routine really helps children at this stage. Many children also play a game of calling you when they don't want to sleep, whether at bedtime or after awaking in the middle of the night. Should your baby get into this habit, be firm. Even though your child may not fully understand, tell her firmly that you will not come again until morning. Lay her down, leave the room, and don't return to continue the "game." She may cry for a short time several nights, but a busy mother or father cannot afford to be up and down all night. Neither can an active baby. Be sure she is well and happy before using this routine. [Editor's note: For other methods of sleep training, see Helping Your Baby Get to Sleep.]

Does your baby cry uncontrollably when you leave her? Is she frightened and/or cold to people she has liked in the past? This can be normal now. Your baby is beginning to realize that she can be independent of you because she can now move on her own. This is a little frightening as well as exciting to her, and for the next few months she may become very dependent on you.