Baby development – what do you want to know?

Our health visitor shares her advice to answer your FAQ’s


Q: My 8 month old is showing no signs of crawling, unlike other babies I know. She’s happy to sit and let everything come to her. Should I be worried?

A: Your little one will only move independently when she’s good and ready. Not all babies crawl. Some shuffle on their bottoms, roll around or pull themselves on their tummies. But before that, they must sit unsupported, as your baby does.


Give her lots of time on the floor to play. Entice her to move using fun push-and-pull toys and balls. Use the time to ensure your home is safe for when she’s on the move. Do you need stair gates, cupboard locks, plug covers and so on?

Q: My friend says I should read to my baby, but she’s only 6 months old. She wouldn’t understand a story now, would she?

A: Your right, she wouldn’t understand a story yet, but it’s never too early to start. Research suggests that the earlier babies are introduced to books, the better. It helps to develop her speech communication skills and attention span, and can even give her a head start at school.

You are your baby’s first and most influential teacher, and sharing books at this early stage will help her develop positive attributes towards learning. It’s also a fun way of spending time together, and a great distraction to have up your sleeve.

Q: Since learning to crawl, my son has become clingy. Is this normal?

A: It’s completely normal. Babies learn to crawl at around 8 months, the stage where they’ve developed a strong attachment to their main carer, usually mum. You’re his source of comfort and security. When he can crawl away, he realises that he’s separated from you and that you can leave him, making it an anxious time for him.

But it’s an important lesson for your son and shows the healthy bond between you, so be calm and reassuring. He’ll gain confidence that mum is always there for him, even when out of sight.

Q: My 6 month old baby is the last of his group to be able to sit up unaided and I’m worried he may have a problem. Could there be something wrong with him?

A: Most babies are beginning to sit up by around 6 months. To begin with, some will need more support around them than others, but nearly all can be expected to sit comfortably by 8 months.

A lot depends on the individual child and his environment. If your child has plenty of opportunities to play on his tummy at floor level, he can develop the necessary upper body strength and neck, shoulder and head control required for sitting up. Some babies are reluctant to be on their front at first but with short, frequent play sessions, your little one will grow in confidence and enjoy this new position.

To help, increase time on the floor together, rolling over and playing with balls and pull-along toys on the carpet. Also try baby massage to stimulate body awareness, and review his progress with your health visitor at around 8 months.

Q: How will I know my baby’s ready for weaning?

A: As with most stages, this depends on your baby’s individual needs. Current guidelines suggest the majority are ready at 6 months. Until then, nutritional needs are met with breast or formula milk. Some signs your baby’s ready for first foods to include:

  • Being able to sit up, but may need support.
  • Trying to chew – with or without teeth!
  • Getting interested in what everyone else is eating.
  • Still being hungry after milk, even though the volume and frequency have been increased (monitor this).
  • If considering weaning earlier, wait until your baby’s at least 17 weeks, and talk to your health visitor first.

Q: I’m confused about when to wean my baby. Are there any signs I should be looking out for which tell me he’s ready?

A: Weaning guidelines have been updated, and this has caused confusion. Most babies get all they need from breast or formula milk until they’re about 6 months old. Signs your baby is ready for more solid, varied diet include showing an interest in food and still being hungry even though you’ve increased the amount of milk you give him. If your baby’s not yet 6 months and seems very hungry, talk to your health visitor – if you choose to introduce solid food before your baby’s 6 months, there are certain foods you should avoid.

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