Playing peekaboo with your baby during the eighth month will help her social development tremendously. Find out what else you need to know.
Your 8-month-old will develop more complex communication and cognitive skills though everyday interactions with you. Back-and-forth games are fun ways to help her social-emotional and cognitive development while the two of you share some laughs.
What to expect:
"Babies are making more and more complex sounds and may even start to try to imitates some words, like ba for ball," says Claire Lerner, LCSW-C, director of parenting resources at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit focused on infant and toddler development. If you greet your baby with a sunny "Hi!" every time you enter the nursery, one of these days he might surprise you with a "Hi!" in response. Your baby is also capable of demonstrating a range of emotions. If an older sibling snatches away his toy, he'll likely let you know just how that makes him feel.
Your baby is starting to understand some language. "By 9 months, if you say 'Where's the ball?' and you've played with the ball hundreds of times and labeled it, your child may actually look at the ball," Lerner says. "You're building that skill over time by narrating what you're doing as you go through your day together." Your little one should also be communicating more through sounds and gestures as time goes on. "For example, your baby might reach out toward a favorite book and vocalize to let you know she wants you to read it with her," Lerner says.
How to help:
"Tune in to your baby's cues and respond [to her] to help further build her communication and social skills. Babies are also starting to understand object permanence, that things still exist even when out of their sight," Lerner says. Help your baby master this important concept by covering a toy with a blanket and encouraging her to find it. At least some of the time, make sure to talk to your baby the same way you would with an older child, says Yvette Warren, M.D., a family physician who helped develop the Countdown to Growing Up: A Growth and Development Tracker for the National Fatherhood Initiative. "Some parents with new babies will do a lot of baby talk, which is okay, but parents want to make sure they're still describing a toy or food while they're engaging with them," Dr. Warren says.
When you should you worry:
If your baby isn't vocalizing at all, mention it to your pediatrician at the 9-month checkup, Dr. Warren suggests.
Don't freak out if:
Your baby is suddenly clingy, Dr. Warren says. "You may notice if a baby is going to day care, [he] might start to seem more upset. [He] may have developed stranger anxiety, and that's a normal developmental thing for babies -- to recognize that these are my parents and these are strangers," she explains.
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