Your eight-month-old baby

by Julie Snyder

8 month oldCuriosity is the focus this month. What is it called? How does it feel? Can I get to it? Can I eat it?

In the sake of discovery your little one may empty drawers, unroll paper towels, tear up magazines, unfold laundry, attempt to remove your nose and eyes.

In the midst of your now topsy-turvy house, he is learning how the world works. She will be mobile, and ever-vigilant in their quest to discover the world around them.

Social and emotional development

Your bold, outgoing little boy may suddenly be frightened by new experiences and new people. Stranger anxiety is a normal developmental milestone indicating that he is gaining a sense of himself and others. He knows the difference between close family and friends and others.

Of course this isn't much consolation if your parents are arriving for a visit next week and your son has turned into Mr. Cling and Fuss. What can you do? Try these steps:

• Allow your baby to make friends at his own pace.
• Be relaxed and comfortable; it will reassure your baby.
• Introduce the visitor, perhaps taking your little one's hand and patting Grandpa's cheek.
• Have the new-to-baby person offer a toy or play a distant game like peek-a-boo.
• Remind relatives and friends that this stage is normal and will pass. Ask them to please not take it personally.

Language development

please pick me upShe is using gestures, instead of cries to express herself. Responding to these forerunners of spoken word reinforces her use of body language.

In and out! On and off. Under and on. Her understanding of concepts is blossoming.

Games such as "hat on/hat off" bring squeals and giggles...especially if it is your head! Squeak a toy, partially hide it under a blanket and search for it together. Clap and cheer when she finds it.

Cognitive development

She remembers simple word games. When you ask "how big is baby?" she will throw her arms high in the air in anticipation of "sooooo big!"

She's connecting gestures with words. Waving bye-bye and saying good-bye have the same meaning.

Mirror play has moved beyond simple fascination with an interesting and moving image. She has discovered that she's the one in control of the moves! She'll touch her nose; that baby touches its nose. She'll watch you and watch your image in the mirror. Most interesting!

Create simple problems for your baby to solve. Tie a short string or ribbon to a toy. Set the toy just out of reach. When he pulls the string to get it, tell him how wonderful he is for solving that problem! Other simple problems can include pulling a towel or blanket to get a toy on it and lifting a box to find a toy.

Large motor skills

baby reaching for toyYou can no longer plop your baby on a blanket and expect her stay there. Most little ones are ready to roll, scoot, creep, crawl, or cruise in whichever way works for them. Even if she's not moving on all fours, she is probably exploring from corner to corner -- scooting on her bottom or imitating an army crawl.

If she's been crawling a while or getting in the hands and knees position, she may pull to a stand, leaning against furniture or your legs for balance. Depending on her personality, she may have trouble getting back down. Some babies let go and fall. Others holler to be rescued, over and over. Encourage her new mobility by arranging furniture so she can cruise freely around the room.

Fine motor skills

Did you know fingers can work separately? He is discovering this important fact. Instead of the whole arm, he uses just a finger for pointing. This ability corresponds well with his improved memory and new-found interest in naming objects. Although "eh" and pointing at Auntie's candle holder could mean "I want to examine that up close," it might also mean, "What do we call that?"

The thumb, index and second finger work in cahoots and he is beginning to develop a pincer grasp. Those microscopic crumbs and bits of string that took time and effort to scoop into his mouth last month can now be vacuumed up in seconds.

Another milestone this month -- he learns to release items. The result is new favorite game. Baby drops it; you pick it up! Giving him a batch of blocks or soft toys and a large box or bowl to drop them in, one at a time, can provide hours of entertainment.

Note: These milestones may first appear this month. It's normal for them to happen later. Worried your little one isn't developing normally? Check out these developmental red flags.

The big picture

Dislikes become apparent. If he doesn't want his face washed, he'll covered with his hands. He might shove your hand away or simply turn away from food he doesn't want to eat.

Equally intense, he loves to practice his newly emerging skills of crawling and picking up things. His favorite games give him that opportunity -- crawling over mountains of pillows and scuttling away while you chase!

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