by Don Bower
As your baby continues to grow in the seventh month, mobility is the key development. In a very short time, your baby will be in constant motion, and you can expect to see some of the following developments:
Expect Your Baby to:
- Be able to support himself on one arm
- Be able to keep his body erect for a very short time
- Suck his thumb
- Have increased energy
- Roll over from back to stomach
It may seem that all of baby's development is physical (and a great deal is), but your baby is developing in other ways, too. In order to develop mentally, your baby needs plenty of things to see, hear, feel, taste and touch. Toys are safe objects for him to examine, taste and feel. Be sure to offer plenty of sounds, too. Bells, singing, voices, reading and other sounds will encourage his mental growth.
Do you remember when your baby lived by the concept "out of sight, out of mind?" He did not realize that objects were permanent, even when he couldn't see them. He is learning more about permanence now. Hide a toy under your hand with your baby watching. He will lift your hand to get the toy. Only two months ago he could not! Now place the toy behind your back and place your hand where it was hiding the toy. Your baby will probably lift your hand again, but he will probably not think to look behind your back for the toy. Soon, he will have the ability to search for it.
His language development continues this month. Have you noticed that your baby likes "ooh" sounds? Does he also make clucking sounds? These are important skills for language development, so encourage them. Between now and the 18th month of your baby's life, his balance and posture skills will develop rapidly. These skills will enable him to walk.
Remember that all babies have their own developmental timetable. Some 7-month-olds may be standing at this point; others may not even be creeping. If your child is not moving along on his stomach yet, try encouraging this motion by placing a favorite toy just out of his reach. When he realizes that he cannot reach it, he may well decide to wiggle toward it. This is the first step in learning to crawl. Time spent in baby walkers may actually interfere with this important stage of development.
Parent-Baby Learning Games
Place a toy that makes a sound when it is shaken or moved in front of your child. Hit the toy to make the sound. Does he hit the toy too, in order to hear the sound again? He is learning that he has the ability to make things happen, to affect the world around him. This makes him feel capable and encourages him to try more!
Babies have differing temperaments. Some infants are passive, others aggressive and some are more irritable than others. Most like to be cuddled, but the amount of cuddling differs. Your baby may want to be on the floor instead of your lap. He is not rejecting you -- just exploring a new place. You may also notice your baby's attachment to a blanket, stuffed animal or other favorite bedtime toy. Having such a "comfort object" is a step in becoming more secure without your constant presence.
Your baby has learned by now that his cries usually get results! You will be helping him more if you make sure he is all right when he cries. Then limit your attention. When he smiles and laughs, however, lavish him with attention! He will learn quickly that smiles get the best results.
Your baby will probably begin trying to feed himself this month, and mealtime will become quite an experience! Your baby has not developed all the necessary coordination to feed himself, but he needs the experience of trying to develop that coordination. So messiness becomes a way of life! Food is usually picked up and "smeared" into the mouth with baby's palm. It is also smeared on the table, baby's body and you. Try not to become frustrated; simply relax and enjoy the pleasure your child is receiving from his feeding experience. Dropping food, spilling drinks and generally making a mess are steps in learning. Patience! You may find that it works better for you to feed him first, then enjoy your own meal after he has finished.
If baby simply will not take a new food that you are offering, do not force it on him. This could cause him to permanently dislike the food and probably make him mad with you, too. Instead, do not offer it for a few days and try again later. Eventually it may be accepted.
Number One Rule of Baby Safety: NEVER underestimate the rapid rate of a baby's physical development. A baby who has never rolled all the way over may decide to do so the first time you leave him unattended. Make sure your baby's "firsts" are safe.
Prevention is much better than trying to cure sickness and injury. Do not prop baby bottles in your baby's mouth when he is napping. He can become very attached to the bottle, using it to comfort himself (making the change to solid foods later on more difficult). His dental health may suffer as well, either from misshapen front teeth or from cavities if the bottle contains sugary liquid.
Unfortunately, all babies get sick occasionally. Here are some helpful hints when baby is sick:
- Keep his room quiet and darkened (he'll likely rest better)
- Talk or sing to him softly and rock him gently. This should have a soothing effect
- If he has a fever or diarrhea, make sure he gets plenty to drink
- Never give a baby medicine without your doctor's advice
Your baby is becoming more active now. Clothing should let baby move easily while remaining fastened. One-piece playsuits are convenient for you and baby. When selecting clothes, keep in mind your baby's activities. If baby is crawling, avoid dresses that get caught under moving knees. Also, avoid stiff clothes that limit flexibility. As your baby starts to stand, leave feet bare if socks make him slip on a smooth floor.
Traveling with Baby
Whether you are planning a short trip to the store or an all-day trip to Grandma's, traveling with a baby means remembering to bring a car full of needed items. Make yourself a checklist and keep it on the refrigerator to check each time you go out. Or keep a bag packed with baby care basics hanging near the door.
Ready-to-feed formula, powdered foods, tissues, moistened wipes and disposable diapers make travel much easier. If you don't use these items regularly, you might try them just for your trip. If you are carrying refrigerated foods, keep them well insulated with an ice pack.
Also, be sure to bring toys for your baby. You can make or buy an assortment of toys that attach to your baby's car seat. These toys should be soft so they don't become dangerous if the car comes to a quick stop. A cassette tape of children's songs may help entertain your baby.
More and more babies are traveling in airplanes. Just as in the car, babies are safest buckled into their car seat on the plane. Babies can get irritable with the air pressure changes when flying. Nursing or sucking a bottle or pacifier may help alleviate some of the pressure he may feel in his ears.
Even though babies are adaptable, you might want to follow your at-home routine as much as possible. A trip provides enough new experiences without changing sleeping and eating schedules, too.
Mom & Dad
We have spent so much time talking about baby's growth that we haven't mentioned yours. You are developing into a loving and responsible parent. Your knowledge has increased, and you are probably more secure with your parenting skills. But how are you feeling as a couple? It is sometimes difficult to find time for each other, and this can produce tension and hurt feelings. Even during this first, very important year of baby's life, make time to be together and talk with your partner. You are the reason the baby is a part of your life!
Copyright © Don Bower. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.