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Baby Care: Your 8 Month Old Baby

Feb 25, 2022 | 3 Minutes Read

Your baby will be a wiggling, busy, inquisitive, and active little person at 8 months. They have learned that there is a whole world out there just waiting to be touched and explored. Many parents find this a challenging age because, although their baby has some mobility skills, they don’t have enough to keep them entertained for very long. They won’t want to be held all the time and will want to get down on the floor and have some freedom.

Frustration is a common emotion for little ones at this age. They see and they want but they don’t have the means to get to where they want to go. Which means you will find yourself needing to interpret just what it is they are complaining about.

You are likely to hear your 8-month-old develop a different range of cries now. Anger, protest, and frustration will creep into their repertoire but will be balanced by episodes of true laughter and glee. Your skills in reading your baby will grow each day and you’ll find you are going through your own stages of development and growth as well.

Feeding and sleeping at 8 months old

Your baby will have at least 2 solid meals each day now, perhaps 3. Milk is still the primary food source to help fuel their growth; solid foods will also help to supply them with the additional nutrients they need. If you are breastfeeding, you may find your baby does not want to feed as frequently as they used to and their hunger is being partially satisfied by their solid intake. It is still important that they have around 4 breastfeeds or formula feeds a day at 8 months.

Your baby is likely to still need 2 to 3 daytime naps of 1 to 3 hours. There will be more of a pattern to their daily routine, and you will find it easier to work and plan around their feeds and naps now. A tired baby is a cranky baby and not much fun to be with. You are unlikely to want to be out when it is their nap time.

Behavior at 8 months old

Your baby will be talking away now, practicing how noise is made and what it sounds like. They still won’t comprehend that what they say has any meaning, such as mama or dada. But with time and positive reinforcement from you, they will broaden their range of vocal skills and link intent, sound, and meaning.

Make sure you involve them in household conversation and activity. Babies learn how to be social through their families and communities.

This month, try playing games with them such as waving bye-bye, patty-cake, and peek-a-boo. These will all help develop early skills in communication and sequencing. Although they may seem simplistic, nursery rhymes and songs and silly games are vital in creating early building blocks for learning and education.

Developmental milestones at 8 months old 

This is a busy age and a time of discovery and wonder for babies. With increasing mobility comes access to all sorts of things in the house. You’ll have to be extra observant when your baby is playing on the floor. Expect some early crawling skills this month and more competence with sitting independently. Perhaps your baby will creep or drag themselves across the floor or get where they want to go by rolling. They will be using all their limbs to get where they want to be, but they still won’t be coordinated enough to get very far.

Your baby will be able to bear some weight on their legs and may even be standing for short periods of time. You could find them standing in their crib this month. They are likely to protest with frustration when they can’t reach a toy they want or something unsafe is taken away from them. Remember, it is from challenges that their skills will grow and be perfected. Celebrate their efforts and increasing mastery over their body.

Growth at 8 months old

If you are worried about your baby’s growth, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Every baby is a unique mix of genetics and individual factors which influence their own pattern or growth. Although it can be very tempting to compare your baby with other babies of the same age, there is little to be gained from this.

Keeping well at 8 months old 

Your baby will find and pick up the smallest bits of fluff and dirt from now on. They will be like a radar, zeroing in on particles so small you’ll wonder just how they located them! This is why you are going to need to be extra vigilant when it comes to ensuring your household is baby safe.

Make sure heavy furniture is secure and items like televisions, potted plants, bookcases, and tables cannot be pulled over and cause potential harm. Get into the habit now of locking up medicines and using safety latches on cabinets where you store cleaning and toxic products. Doing this early will mean you are well prepared for when your baby is really at the exploring age.

Play and interaction at 8 months old

Try not to overwhelm your baby with too much choice when it comes to toys. A few well-chosen, bright, colorful, and safe toys can be better than having an overflowing toy box which never sees the light of day.

Expect your baby to place everything in their mouth and chew and chomp as they explore the world with their mouth. Your feet, ankles, shoes, laces, even the family pet are all likely to be tasted or chewed on. If your baby has teeth, this oral fixation may even be more exaggerated. Try not to see your baby’s biting as a deliberate intent to harm you or others. They are incapable at this young age of linking cause and effect so you will just need to be careful and try to predict if they are about to bite.

What about mom?

Your baby will be so adorable now that you may find yourself thinking about having another baby. Many parents feel a sense of sadness around this age when their baby seems to be growing up so quickly. Make time every day to just sit and enjoy your little one. You will hear this said a lot and it is likely you will always find some reason to put it off. But as your baby becomes older, you will remember that you did this and be glad of it.

It will be the physical, daily, repetitive grind of parenting which fatigues you now. Preparing meals will be another task to achieve in your busy day, as will cleaning up the highchair, and the slightly nagging feeling that you need to constantly check if your baby is OK.

When they are safely asleep in their crib you can breathe a brief sigh of relief. Use this time to feed your own needs and top-off your own reserves. Take care of yourself! Your baby will not thank you for this but going without self-care for long periods of time can lead to anxiety, resentment, and anger. Consider your own needs and feelings as being equally important to everyone else in the family.

Your emotions
It is common for the primary caregiver to not see themselves as being a separate individual from their baby. Because you are so connected and attached to your little one it may be difficult for you to maintain your own sense of identity. This is a common but not commonly discussed issue of early parenting. If you have always valued your independence and maintained a strong sense of self, this can be a challenging time.

Talk to your partner about how you feel and others you trust who would understand. Counselling can be very effective in helping to sort out these feelings and gain a better understanding of why we feel as we do.

Your sleep needs
Your baby is likely to be sleeping for longer periods overnight now, giving you a chance to do the same yourself. If they are still in your room, you could find they are very sensitive to your presence. The safest place for them to sleep will still be in their own crib in your room but you may need to experiment with the layout of the room so they can’t see you so clearly. At 8 months, being able to see something they want but not be able to get to it can cause some pretty impressive protests.

If you find you are not sleeping well, think about your bedroom environment. Although our bedrooms should be a type of sanctuary, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house, the reality is that when you are sharing it with a baby, the function changes. Baskets of clean and dirty clothes, toys, and assorted household items tend to find their way into their parents’ bedrooms. If you can, clear away some of the mess and find new spots for it somewhere else. When the rest of the house is in chaos it’s important to escape from it into a de-cluttered zone.

Your relationships
You are likely to be so engrossed in your baby that it becomes difficult to find time to consider others. Do the best you can to stay connected but avoid feeling you need to apologize for not considering everyone’s feelings. Nature has designed parents— especially mothers—to be preoccupied with their babies so that their chances of survival are optimized. Be assured that other adults usually have the skills and means to satisfy their own needs, at least temporarily.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.