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7-8 months: baby development

7-8 months

Babies come in all shapes and sizes, but baby development at 7-8 months typically has a few things in common. Here’s what your baby might be doing, how you can help and when to see a child health professional.

Baby development at 7-8 months: what’s happening

Around this time your baby starts working out how to learn more about his world. For example, he’ll look closely at objects like rings or bells, uncover toys after seeing them hidden, bang blocks together and look for them when he drops them. He’ll still put most things into his mouth too.

Your baby is getting better at picking up things using her thumb and pointer finger. She might also feed herself with her fingers.

Crawling, rolling or shuffling are all ways your baby might be moving around. He can sit on his own and might also pull himself up onto his knees.

At this age, your baby loves playing with you and really enjoys games like peekaboo, ringing bells and finding toys. Copying what you do and making funny sounds or animal noises together with you are lots of fun for your baby. Playing together also helps baby feel loved and secure.

Your baby is babbling. If she’s an early talker you might hear her say 1-2 words like ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, but she won’t know what these words mean. If she’s not using words yet, don’t worry – she’ll use body language to communicate with you. For example, she might shake her head for ‘no’ or wave goodbye.

At this age your baby’s emotions are developing, and he’ll let you know when he’s happy or upset. He might show strong attachment to you and other close family members or carers, but he’s still a bit afraid of new faces. This might show up as separation anxiety and stranger anxiety, which are both a normal part of children’s development around this age.

At this age your baby might also:

  • try to chew, which means she’s now ready for food mashed or minced into small pieces
  • try to feed herself – for example, by picking up her food or holding a drink bottle by herself
  • respond to ‘Come here’
  • look for family members if you ask her to – for example, if you say, ‘Where’s Mummy?’, she might look around for her mother
  • stand with help.
You’ll be surprised at how far your baby can roll and crawl and what he can reach, so always watch your baby. It doesn’t take long for baby to unexpectedly move into or reach for something that puts him in danger.

Helping baby development at 7-8 months

Here are a few simple things you can do to help your baby’s development at this age:

  • Talk to your baby: your baby is interested in conversation, so talking about everyday things like what you’re doing will help her understand what words mean. And the more talk, the better!
  • Listen and respond to your baby’s babbling: this will build his language, communication and literacy skills, and make him feel ‘heard’, loved and valued. Responding by talking or making sounds in your own warm, loving way is important. Your baby will enjoy hearing your voice go up and down and love watching your face as you talk to him.
  • Read together: reading, talking about pictures in books and telling stories develop your baby’s imagination. This also helps her build the skills she’ll need to understand language.
  • Introduce new foods: you could give your baby homemade foods like ground-up meats, whole rice or soft bread. Just make sure the solids are small and mushy enough to prevent choking. You could also introduce cereal softened with water or a little bit of pasteurised cow’s milk, but at this age breastmilk or formula should still be baby’s main type of milk.
  • Spend time playing outdoors: your baby will love being out and about with you – there’s so much to see and do. When you’re out and about, remember to be safe in the sun.
  • Prepare your home for a moving baby: it’s a good idea to look at how you can make your home safe for baby to move about in.
Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, he might be too tired or hungry. He’ll use special baby cues to let you know when he’s had enough and what he needs.

Parenting an eight-month-old

Every day you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. As your baby grows and develops, you’ll learn more about what she needs and how you can meet these needs.

In fact, as a parent, you’re always learning. Every parent makes mistakes and learns through experience. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know and ask questions – often the ‘dumb’ questions are the best kind!

Your own physical and mental health is an important part of being a parent. But with all the focus on looking after a child or baby, lots of parents forget or run out of time to look after themselves. Looking after yourself will help you with the understanding, patience, imagination and energy you need to be a parent.

Sometimes you might feel frustrated or upset. But if you feel overwhelmed, put your baby in a safe place – for example, a cot – or ask someone else to hold him for a while. Take some time out until you feel calmer. You could also try going to another room to breathe deeply or calling a family member or friend to talk things through.

Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.

It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your baby, call your local Parentline. Our coping toolkit has practical ideas to help you relax and feel calmer.

When to be concerned about baby development

See your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your eight-month-old is having any of the following issues.

Seeing, hearing and communicating
Your child:

  • isn’t making eye contact with you, isn’t following moving objects with her eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
  • isn’t babbling
  • isn’t turning her head towards sounds or voices.

Behaviour
Your child:

  • doesn’t smile or show if he’s happy or sad
  • shows little or no affection for carers – for example, he doesn’t cuddle you.

Movement
Your child:

  • isn’t rolling
  • feels very floppy or stiff
  • can’t sit up or stand up with your help
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other.

You should also see a health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills that she once had.

You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you notice the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men in yourself or your partner. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.

Video

Baby development issues

1:55

This short video is about baby development issues, particularly issues with vision, hearing and movement.

All babies develop in the same order but at different rates. There are signs that can tell you that a baby might be experiencing a delay in development. If you’re worried about your baby’s development, it’s a very good idea to have your child checked out by your GP or child and family health nurse.

Video

Developmental delay in babies

2:23

This short video has information about recognising and catching development delay in newborns and babies. If you’re worried about your baby’s development or you suspect a delay in development, you should talk with your GP or child and family health nurse. There’s no need to feel embarrassed if you're worried about your baby.

Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you’re worried about whether your child’s development is ‘normal’, it might help to know that ‘normal’ varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn’t quite right, see your child and family health nurse or GP.

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Last updated or reviewed
01-02-2016

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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