The Eighth Month of Fatherhood

by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.

checking out the Christmas treeIn the eight months of fatherhood you begin to notice that your baby interacts much more with you. He can recognize you and may even begin to show excitement when the two of you are together. You may be gaining more confidence in understanding what his crying is trying to tell you.

At eight months your baby may be more adventurous and want to crawl or reach for things that may be dangerous. Start keeping a closer eye on him. You may find you may feel more adventurous too, and willing to attempt longer days at the park or even a longer car ride with him to visit friends.

Baby's grow and develop on different time tables. At eight months some are just starting to be more mobile while others are beginning to hold on to the furniture and "cruise" around, maybe even trying to walk. Dads also develop on their own unique timetable. While some dad's can go it alone and feel totally competent with their baby, others still need to get an agenda or list of things to watch for from their spouse. Since we as men are "trained" to be independent we often won't ask for help from our wives or reject what they may share with us about parenting.

The research on parenting shows that whoever, mom or dad, spends the most time with their baby will become sensitive to the baby's needs. If that is the mother then we as fathers have to be open to learning from what they have observed and value the suggestions. Too often as men and fathers we feel defensive about getting advise or help. We need to know we can't be expected to know how to do everything. Allow yourself to work as a team with your partner on this adventure as parents. Teamwork is the key to getting through this first year.

At eight months you recognize how time consuming it is to have a baby. Making plans or arrangements with friends means considering what is happening with your baby. Dinner plans or outings are organized around naps and feedings. Sometimes it may feel like your life is not your own, that all the spontaneity in life is gone. Be aware that becoming a family, especially at this stage, means staying flexible. The loss of spontaneity in your life is real. Learn to be flexible and open to the new routines of being a family. Just "letting go" can lead to deep satisfaction and fulfillment. As I have mentioned so often...be patient with yourself and your life, fatherhood will bring to you a feeling of contentment that comes from meeting one of life's great challenges!

Here are a few practical tips that new dads have shared with me to get the most out of your 8th month of fatherhood.

For your baby:

  • Waving, banging and throwing toys is what this month brings. Get plastic nested cups for him to play with. Give him a spoon and cup for mealtimes. Continue to feed him, but allow him to do so as he is able.
  • He may enjoy seeing himself in a mirror.

For your wife/partner:

  • Talk with your wife about a weekend family day. On that day make no plans but just for the three of you to be together.
  • Talk with your partner about what you feel are the biggest adjustments you have each has to make as parents.

For yourself:

  • Are there one or two friends that you haven't talked with in a while? Call them up and let them know how having a young baby makes "free" time or "hanging-out" very difficult. Reassure them that you are still their friend and ask them to understand that being a father is a big adjustment.
  • Ask your father if he remembers what the first year of parenthood was like for him and your mom.

Bruce Linton, Ph.D. is founder and director of the Fathers' Forum programs for expectant and new fathers. He is a former contributing editor to "Full-Time-Dads" magazines, and columnist for Parents' News in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Finding Time for Fatherhood. Bruce is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and received his doctorate for his research on men's development as fathers.

Copyright © Bruce Linton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.