As your baby gets older, his physical achievements will have a ripple effect on the rest of his development. "The typical developmental charts divided skill areas into separate domains, but in fact they are all very interconnected," says Claire Lerner, LCSW-C, director of parenting resources at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit focused on infant and toddler development. "It's not just that the child can sit up; it's how sitting up allows for the development of skills in other domains as well."
What to expect: "Around 7 months children are either able to sit up on their own or can do so with some support," Lerner says. "That's major, because it's obviously a very important sign of physical and motor development, but it's what it enables the baby to do that is so extraordinary. He has the use of his hands to reach out and explore and manipulate things." Such hands-on activity is good for baby's brain. "It encourages cognitive development because that kind of exploration of objects is how children learn about how things work," Lerner explains.
Your baby's fine motor skills are also improving, although he still probably won't have the precise control of the pincer grasp, which comes later. Instead, your little one will probably use his whole palm to reach, grasp and bang toys together.
Your baby might also test out other new floor moves. "They're learning to go from sitting to a crawling or crouching stance, so parents might see them tipping over, which isn't a bad thing -- they're just trying to learn," says Yvette Warren, M.D., a family physician who helped develop Countdown to Growing Up: A Growth and Development Tracker for the National Fatherhood Initiative.
Progression: Although some babies are already creeping and crawling this month, others will rock back and forth on their hands and knees as they work toward figuring out how to push themselves forward. But even if these babies haven't taken off yet, they can roll toward whatever they're interested in. "Usually, if a child is motoring around a little, it's to reach a goal," Lerner says. "They already have a plan at that age -- they want to get closer to you or a desired object." Soon they'll expand the ways in which they can reach their goals. "Some 7-month-olds are even able to hold themselves up while supported," Lerner says. "If you place their hands on a couch they can support their body weight, which is a precursor to cruising and walking."
How to help: "You want to join them where they're at and then encourage them to build on it," Lerner says. If your baby is picking up blocks and and dropping them on the floor, bring over a bucket and show her how to drop them in.
Toy activity panels with knobs, squeaks, and other sensory elements are a big hit with babies this age, Dr. Warren says. But your own living room can also provide plenty of entertainment: Lean your little one against the couch, and put an interesting object nearby to see if she goes for it. If your baby is rocking on all fours, try placing an interesting item just out of reach to tempt her to crawl.
"The key is that you're following the child's lead," Lerner says. "You're being a good observer to see what your child is able to do and how you can encourage her to take the next step."
When you should worry: If your child isn't starting to sit or show interest in exploration, talk to your pediatrician or other trusted child development professional.
Don't freak out if: "At 7 months, not crawling or motoring is still very much in normal limits -- as long as your child is making progress," Lerner says. Also, don't worry if your baby still needs support to stand. "It's very rare for 7-month-olds to be able to pull themselves up," Dr. Warren says.
Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.
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