Baby is now over half a year old – and you may well be asking yourself where the time has gone! He will continue to develop at a fast rate and take in the world around him during months 7, 8, and 9. Here’s what milestones to expect during these months, how to keep him safe, and how to help encourage his development.
How mobile will my baby be in months 7-9?
Up until now, your baby has more or less stayed put whenever placed somewhere, but now he is growing more mobile, and you can rest assured that he is eager to explore. Now that he’s growing stronger, it’s likely he can sit up unsupported and turn himself onto his tummy so he can start crawling. It may not just be crawling that he’s doing, either; he could be scooting, rolling, and slithering around on his tummy too. You might have also noticed that he crawls backwards. This is because his arm muscles are stronger than his leg muscles, so it’s easier for him to push backwards with his arms – this is perfectly normal and many babies do this.
As your baby gets into his ninth month of life, he may also start cruising – where he uses furniture to pull himself up to a standing position and then shuffles himself along. Cruising can be a sign that he is getting closer to walking, and while it is possible for some babies to take their few first steps as early as nine months old, most babies aren’t able to walk independently until after their first birthday.
And bear in mind he may not even be crawling at this point. It’s normal for some babies not to begin to crawl until later than nine months, so don’t feel worried if he’s still fairly immobile.
If you would like to encourage mobility and crawling, you can do so by having a soft carpet and place lots of toys that are not too far out of his reach. There are plenty of toys designed to help encourage crawling themselves, such as a ball that your baby can have fun rolling around the room and toy cars and trains.
Ensuring safety for a mobile baby
Remember that now your baby is mobile, you must, if you haven’t already, make sure all rooms of the house are properly babyproofed. His inquisitive nature will lead him to picking up and interacting with anything he finds, so here are a few key things to make sure of before your baby starts to crawl:
- Install stairgates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Block any wide gaps in stair railings with plastic fencing or other material.
- Ensure any potentially dangerous items, such as knives or any heavy objects, are put away and safely out of reach.
- If you have any cabinets and cupboards containing unsafe items, then you should place a lock or a latch on them.
- Use doorstops so that your little one is protected from getting caught in any slamming doors.
- Make sure electrical cords are hidden behind furniture, out of baby’s sight.
In what other ways is baby developing?
You likely now have a routine in place for bathing, napping, feeding, and sleeping. Baby is probably still having two naps a day, which could be causing him to not sleep through the whole night. If you are having trouble settling him at night, then it may be a good idea to cut his afternoon nap short if it is overrunning and starting to get too close to his bedtime.
His manipulative skills will continue to develop. He’ll enjoy picking up different toys and examining them closely, transferring them from hand to hand. As he is keen to investigate with his fingers, this means he will also have much more of an interest in finger foods at meal times. Suitable finger foods at this stage include well-cooked carrot sticks, slices of banana and apple, and sticks of cheese.
It’s during this period that he should develop object permanence – in other words, if something disappears from his line of vision, he understands that it still exists – meaning that he will start to look for a toy that has dropped out of his line of sight. This will lead to him starting to enjoy looking for hidden objects (you can cover a toy with a cloth and then encourage him to look for it) and games such as peek-a-boo. Development of object permanence also means he understands that if mum or dad leaves the room, they are not gone forever and will soon reappear.
You may start to realise that your child has become more reactive to your emotions. For instance, he may start to cry when he can tell you’re cross. It’s common for baby to have a fear of strangers at this stage, where new faces make him nervous. On the other hand, it’s also possible that he will be very sociable and smile at everyone he meets.
Why does my baby become distressed when I leave the room?
Your baby may start to show signs of distress if you leave the room – this is known as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a regular part of any child’s development. Baby will usually become anxious when he is left in the care of someone else, such as a close relative or babysitter, and is likely to start crying and screaming to prevent you from going.
The severity of separation anxiety and when it occurs is something that will vary from child to child, but it commonly starts in the 7-9 month period. To help calm his anxiety over being left with another person, you can help him get used to this person by having him spend some time with them while you’re present. It’s very important that you do not try to trick your baby by sneaking out the house while he’s not looking – he’s bound to find out sooner and later, and the shock of suddenly finding out that you’re not there is likely to make his anxiety worse. Instead, make it clear that you’re going by saying goodbye to him so he understands what’s happening.
What about baby’s communication skills?
You may find that your baby is babbling a lot at this age. To encourage development, you should continue to talk to him as much as you can.
It’s also possible he may utter his first word at this stage, a moment every bit as heart-warming and exciting as when he first smiled at you. If not words, you’ll find that he’ll be repeating sounds as he tries to imitate what he hears. All those ‘oh’s’ and ‘ah’s’ and other little noises are his way of gradually coming to grips with language. He will continue to experiment with consonants and vowels over the coming months.
Find out more about what to expect in months 10, 11, and 12.