What a game of peek-a-boo teaches your baby about you.
As your baby begins to move about on their own, a world of exploration is opening up. At this point, their brain development has turned them into a confident and curious individual—one who now has the physical strength to begin to get where they want to go! By finding stimulating ways to play with your child and continuing to offer well-balanced nutrition, you’re boosting your little one’s ability to think and do for themselves.
Don’t worry if your baby isn’t exactly following this timetable. They may be working on some milestones from the previous month or two, or on those coming up in the next few months. Older babies follow very individual schedules, sometimes focusing so intently on one new skill that others don’t seem to change for a few weeks. This is normal.
Keep the camera ready; here’s what you may see in your 8-month-old.
Your baby’s eyesight is almost fully mature, enabling them to recognize people and objects from across the room. They are also beginning to know the sound of their name and may perk up or turn toward you when you say it. They continue to experiment with object permanence—that people and things still exist even when they can’t see them. When they drop something out of sight, they know it’s there and may try to reach for it or cry for it. When you play peekaboo, they understand that your face is there behind your fingers, and they wait in anticipation of seeing it again. This eagerness also means that your baby now knows you’re nearby when you move out of their line of vision or into the next room. As their brain grows, they are starting to realize that they can make things happen (“If I push this button, my favourite toy will light up!”).
Now that they are sitting up for longer stretches of time, they will soon start to test their newfound strength and balance. They may spy an interesting toy, for example, and will work to reposition themselves in order to reach it. The hard part for you at this stage may be resisting the urge to grab that toy and hand it to them. Instead, try making it into a game for the two of you: you place a toy within their reach and cheer their efforts to grab it on their own. They are also likely experimenting with different rolling and scooting motions as they get ready to crawl. They are making big advances in both gross motor skills (use of the limbs and body) and fine motor skills (use of the hands). They may still use their hands like mittens to rake objects toward them, but now as their hand movements become more coordinated, they are beginning to learn to pick up small objects using their thumb and index finger like a pincer. This new skill allows them to hold a wider variety of objects.
Without being able to say a word yet, your baby can now communicate in some fairly sophisticated ways. By paying attention to the ways you talk to them, they have learned about conversational turn-taking—that two people go back and forth when they talk. Notice how they will babble and then pause for you to take a turn before they start again. To encourage your budding communicator, talk a lot to them—ask questions, tell them what you’re doing, read books for them, and wait for them to respond back. Their babbles increasingly mix vowels and consonants, trying to imitate actual words they hear you say. And when they want or needs something, they may point, crawl, or gesture toward the object—it’s another way they communicate.
Your baby knows the familiar people in their world very well and shows delight at seeing them. This means they can also distinguish who isn’t in that close inner circle. They may react with wariness or fear when faced with someone unfamiliar, like a neighbour—a reaction known as stranger anxiety. You can ease their mind in these situations by holding them close and letting them slowly warm up to the new person.
- Data on file