All of a sudden your eight-month-old seems to understand so much more about the world. Tell him to look at something and the chances are, he will. Watch him when the key is put in the door, or the doorbell rings. He’ll start looking towards the door to find out what’s going to happen next. He’s starting to make connections about cause and effect.
1. If he’s going to crawl at all, he’ll probably start this month. About 15 per cent of babies never crawl, and there’s no problem with that, but by eight months the majority are getting around somehow. Often they’re bottom-shuffling if not crawling. Moving around independently is exciting for him, and once he gets the hang of it he’ll put all his resources into honing his skills further.
2. His memory is coming on in leaps and bounds this month. In one experiment, eight-month-olds appeared to recognise complicated words two weeks after listening to them on an audio tape.
3. His sight is now adult-like in its depth and clarity. Your baby can now recognise someone he knows well across a room. But his short-range vision is still better than his long-range sight.
4. He’s starting to empathise with your emotions. If he sees you or someone else crying he might start to cry himself. The fact that people feel things as well as see and hear them is just beginning to make sense to him. He is beginning to understand that people have moods.
5. By eight months your baby has got the idea that things don’t just exist, you can do something with them. When he picks something up you’ll see him trying to work out what to ‘do’ with it. Does it rattle, does it play a tune, and does it fit into something else? He’s worked out that life is about questions, and he’s started looking for some answers.
Your eight-month-old will want to work out what things ‘do’
- With thanks to Professor Annette Dionne Karmiloff-Smith, head of the Neurocognitive Development Unit at the Institute for Child Heath
Help them learn
There’s a lot you can do to stimulate and encourage your baby
- Look for different toys and objects that can ‘make things happen’. For example, show him that if you press the doorbell there will be a ringing sound. Do it several times and let him try to have a go himself. Then when the doorbell rings pick him up and go together to find out who is there on the doorstep.
- Talk to your baby about what you’re seeing and experiencing. Research has found that babies learn to speak more through feedback and social interaction than through merely imitating others. Experiments have found that a baby given lots of verbal feedback can start to improve the noises he makes during that very play session, so results may be instant.
- Remember that mealtimes should be fun. Don’t obsess about how much your baby is eating; in fact try not to think about that at all. Instead, concentrate on letting your baby enjoy the whole experience of food and eating it. Give him lots of interesting finger foods, and encourage him to make a mess.
- This is a good month to spark his musical interest. Let him experiment with different ‘instruments’, banging a box with a wooden spoon for example. If you have a piano, you could sound out different notes and let him have a try too. Find songs with actions; point up at the sky during Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, for example.
At eight months old your baby will be getting around and showing an interest in ‘cause and effect’ games and music
- Remember, babies are individuals and develop at different rates. If you have any concerns, see your GP or health visitor.