Your child has gone from tiny newborn to curious infant, reaching out and exploring his or her surroundings. That curiosity and readiness to learn will continue as your baby becomes more mobile during these next few months.
Your little one will make great strides in learning. Play will take on a new dimension as language emerges. During these next few months, your baby's babbling will start to morph into words like "mama," "dada," and "baba." These will emerge randomly at first, but your baby will soon learn to associate them with mom, dad, and bottle.
Your baby will begin to use gestures like pointing and waving for expression. This is also the stage where your infant will understand more of what you are saying, including the word "no!"
As your child gets more mobile and interested in exploring, it's important to provide supervision and to make sure to childproof the house to prevent accidents.
Babies this age are very busy learning how to move around. They learn to crawl during this stage, though some will develop more novel ways of getting around, such as creeping on their bellies, scooting on their bottoms, or rolling to where they want to go. It doesn't matter so much how babies get around as long they're able to move their arms and legs equally and coordinate both sides of the body.
Babies also become better at changing positions, moving readily from lying to sitting, then pulling themselves to stand. Holding on to furniture and other large objects nearby, your infant will take tentative first steps and start cruising along the furniture. Some babies may even learn to walk independently during this stage.
As hand-eye coordination improves, your baby will explore objects in greater detail, also learning their functions: you use a brush on your hair, you talk on the telephone.
Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety also can start now. Your baby may get upset when a stranger approaches or you try to leave, whether you're going into the next room for a few seconds or leaving your child with a sitter for the evening. Your baby may cry, cling to you, and resist attention from others. This is normal and appropriate for this stage of development, and might intensify in the next few months, then slowly improve as your child develops the language and social skills to cope with a strange situation and feels secure that the separation isn't permanent.
Your baby's ability to get around and never-ending curiosity boost learning now, so it's important to provide chances — and a safe place — for exploration. Your baby may enjoy playing with egg cartons, blocks, balls, stacking toys, and push-pull toys. When your baby is in the bath, provide squeeze toys and cups and containers to splash around with.
Infants are learning to understand language so continue to talk to your baby. Introduce simple words by naming familiar objects and let your baby try to imitate you. Reinforce the words by repeating them. Encourage your infant's expressions by waiting for a response when you are having a "conversation."
Continue reading from books with large, colorful illustrations. Point to the pictures and say what's in them to create associations between the things your child sees and the words that describe them.
Here are some other ideas for encouraging your 8- to 12-month-old to learn and play:
There is a wide range of what is normal for babies, and some babies develop slower and faster than others. Talk with your child's doctor if you have any concerns.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2015
|U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) This federal agency collects information about consumer goods and issues recalls on unsafe or dangerous products.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Zero to Three Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers.|
|The Senses and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Here's how you can stimulate your baby's senses and provide a safe environment for exploration.|
|Feeding Your 8- to 12-Month-Old At this age, babies start to explore table foods.|
|Movement, Coordination, and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old From scooting to crawling to cruising, during these months, babies are learning how to get around.|
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|Learning, Play, and Your 4- to 7-Month-Old Your infant will learn to sit during this time, and in the next few months will begin exploring by reaching out for objects, grasping and inspecting them.|
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|Choosing Safe Toys Toys are a fun and important part of any child's development. And there's plenty you can do to make sure all toys are safe.|
|Sleep and Your 8- to 12-Month-Old Certain sleep problems may crop up as your child approaches the first birthday, often as he or she becomes aware of time spent away from you.|
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