8-Month-Old Baby:Big Moves Ahead
Now that your baby has turned 8 months old, you may be finding that he's more curious and active than ever before. His muscles are getting stronger, and he's getting ready to use those legs for crawling, scooting, and eventually walking. Here's what you need to know about sleeping, feeding, health concerns, and more so you’ll be prepared during this exciting time of growth and development.
Baby Development Milestones
You're about to see some big changes in your little one! If he hasn't started crawling already, he's likely preparing to crawl, so he'll be on the move before you know it. He may also be about to experience some changes in his sleep habits and his attachment to you and other caregivers, so read on to learn more about what's happening during this month.
Growth and Physical Development: Putting His Best Foot Forward
By this time, your baby has likely more than doubled his birth weight. The average 8-month-old baby boy’s weight falls somewhere between 17.5 and 22 pounds; girls usually weigh about a half a pound less at this age. Keep in mind, though, that it’s normal for babies’ growth to slow down in the months leading up to the first birthday. At each checkup, your healthcare provider has been weighing and measuring your baby, and using baby growth charts to make sure he's progressing well. You may want to learn more about how to read and interpret baby growth charts.
Have you taken a good look at your baby’s feet lately? You may have noticed that his feet and toes may point inward when he's lying on his back; once he takes a step or two, they may point outward. Not to worry, as those foot positions will correct themselves in due time. By 18 months, most babies are no longer pigeon-toed, and shortly after this time their hip ligaments tighten, and their feet are able to point forward when walking. The soles of your baby’s feet are also protected by a layer of fat that makes his feet appear flat. This fatty layer will also disappear in two to three years, and arches will begin to form.
Senses: New Experiences and Reactions
Improved hand-eye coordination is one of many 8-month-old baby milestones your little one may reach right about now. At this point, he is probably able to spot a toy across the room, go after it, and pick it up. He loves to experience different textures, whether in his hand or in the foods he eats. His hearing and early language skills are also improving, so make sure to talk with him as much as possible, and describe all the sights you're both seeing throughout the day.
Movement: Preparing to Crawl
An exciting 8-month-old baby milestone you might observe is that he's sitting up on his own without support. Watch as your baby starts to lean forward to reach for and pick up objects with one hand! Right now, he's working on strengthening the muscles he needs for crawling, which usually starts somewhere between 7 and 10 months. Now that your little one is more mobile than ever, it's even more important to keep a close eye on him, especially when changing him or during play time.
One way to help him get ready to crawl is by giving him tummy time. During tummy time, he's in the perfect position to start crawling, and he’s learning how to push up onto his hands and knees. He may start by rocking back and forth before he’s able to propel himself forward. You can even encourage him further by holding a toy or other object just beyond his reach.
Cognitive Development: Playing With Words and Sounds
Your 8-month-old baby's language and communication skills are continuing to develop, and you may find you both understand each other a little bit better these days. In fact, what may have sounded like gurgles and babbles until recently can begin to sound like real syllables. Simple syllables like “ma” and “ba” start to form the basis for simple words, like mama and bye-bye. Your baby now understands more of your words, too! If you mention his favorite toy that’s across the room and he looks in its direction, he’s understanding you. He’s likely starting to respond to his own name and the word “no,” too.
He's also starting to understand object permanence, the concept that objects exist even when they're out of sight. He's becoming more curious and may start to search for items if you hide them. You can both have some fun honing this skill through games like peekaboo.
Separation anxiety is not uncommon at this stage. Your little one is learning that objects (and people) continue to exist, so your absence may cause him some stress. And, with little or no concept of time, he can't work out when or even if you'll return to him. You may be able to help him through these periods of separation anxiety with a transitional object, like a security blanket or a special, always-by-his-side toy, which will help reassure and comfort him.
How to Support Your Baby's Development
There are lots of ways to encourage your baby's intellectual and physical development. He's curious, increasingly mobile, and eager to enjoy new experiences with you. Here are a few tips for supporting his progress:
Keep talking and reading. By introducing new sounds, syllables, and simple words, you can encourage him to repeat what he hears.
Play peekaboo. This simple game can provide endless entertainment and giggles, and you can take turns “finding” each other under a soft cloth.
Give him a spoon. As his motor skills improve, try letting him play with a spoon during meal times. He'll get used to the feeling of the utensil in his hand, and it's a great step toward feeding himself.
Get creative with toys. Remember, 8-month-old baby toys don't need to be fancy. He'll be just as entertained by a plastic container and a wooden spoon as by an expensive gadget.
Get on his level. Quality time spent playing together on the floor is great for his development. Try rolling a ball back and forth and watch as he gets more skilled at this activity.
Feeding Your 8-Month-Old Baby
Your baby's daily menu now includes mashed or pureed solids (aka baby food), which should provide about half of your 8-month-old baby’s caloric needs. The other half should come from breast milk or formula. In total, babies need about 750 to 900 calories per day. Your little guy is starting to develop food preferences as his senses of taste and smell improve, so now is a great time to offer new flavors and textures. Try introducing him to slightly coarser foods like yogurt, oatmeal, or mashed bananas, which will also help him work on his chewing skills. Don't worry if he doesn't take to a new flavor right away. Your baby may need repeated exposure to a new food, as many as 10 to 15 attempts over a few months, before he’ll eat it.
How Much Sleep Does an 8-Month-Old Baby Need?
By now, your 8-month-old baby may be sleeping about 9 to 12 hours at night, and be taking about two naps a day. Naps can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. This might sound like a lot of snoozing, but be prepared for some disruptions in your baby’s sleep routine around this time.
For some little ones, the onset of separation anxiety at this stage can lead to sleep regression, meaning your 8-month-old baby may sleep less than she used to, or she may wake in the night after previously being able to sleep through the night. Here are some tips to help your little one sleep more soundly:
If your baby has her own room or nursery, put her to bed with her bedroom door open. She may feel more comfortable if she can hear you and won’t feel completely closed off.
Allow thumb sucking as a way to comfort herself.
Provide a transitional object like a small blanket or special toy to help her soothe herself in your absence. This blankie or lovey will be something she’s developed a particular attachment to, and it will remind her that everything is OK.
Offer a pat on the back and a few consoling words if she cries for you in the middle of the night.
If she does cry for you in the middle of the night, try not to turn on the bedroom light, rock her, or walk with her. And you’ll also want to avoid feeding her and taking her into your bed. All of these will make self-soothing more difficult in the future, because she’ll learn to associate bedtime with these acts and come to expect them as part of the bedtime routine every single night.
Your Baby's Health: Staying Safe at Home
All that wriggling and moving your baby has been doing prepares her for some big steps, and it's important to make sure your home is as safe as it can be for your little explorer. You may have already started babyproofing your home (if not, now is a great time to do it); keep in mind that your baby furniture and equipment need just as much attention as your electrical outlets and cabinet doors.
Falls are among the most common household accidents, so you'll want to check your baby's crib, changing table, high chair, and other equipment to make sure they meet safety standards and are assembled correctly. Here are some other tips to make sure these items are as safe as can be:
Make sure any vertical slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart to prevent her head from becoming trapped between them.
The crib's mattress should be the same size as the crib and fit tightly, with no more than a slight, two-finger gap between the mattress and the frame of the crib.
Set the mattress to the lowest level possible before your baby is able to stand on her own.
Don't use crib bumpers, pillows, loose sheets, blankets, or stuffed animals in the crib to avoid suffocation or strangulation.
Baby changing tables should have a two-inch guardrail on all four sides, and the top of the changing table pad should be concave to keep your baby from rolling off the table.
Always use the table's safety strap, but keep a hand on your baby at all times during changes, just to be safe.
Keep your supplies like diapers and wipes within easy reach of you, but out of your baby's grasp.
Choose a chair with a wide base, and never place it so close to a counter or table that your baby could kick or push hard enough to tip the chair over.
Use all safety straps when your baby is sitting in the high chair.
Make sure any small parts on the chair (such as caps or plugs on chair tubing) are securely attached. These could become choking hazards if your baby is able to remove them.
Make sure the playpen's enclosure is free of any tears, holes, or loose material.
If your baby is able to pull herself up, remove any larger toys or objects from the playpen that she may be tempted to use to try to raise herself and climb out.
Regularly check the playpen for damage, including loose parts or bite marks from your teething baby.
Babies and small children can drown in only a few inches of water, so you'll want to be especially careful in the bathroom, as well as outside if your home has a pool, pond, hot tub, or other small body of water.
Never leave your baby alone in the bath, or around any open containers of water (like buckets and watering cans). Also, keep toilets closed and use a lid lock to keep your baby out of the toilet bowl.
If you do have a swimming pool, install a four-foot high, or higher, fence with a self-locking gate around the entire area, and completely remove any pool covers before swimming. Make sure you have a safety ring and rope handy in case of emergency, as well as your phone. Many little ones love the water, and you can have tons of fun splashing around, but always give your baby your complete attention when you're swimming and try to eliminate any distractions.
FAQs at a Glance
How much do babies weigh at 8 months? An average 8-month-old baby boy’s weight is probably between 17.5 and 22 pounds. Girls this age may weigh between 17 and 21.5 pounds.
What can I feed my 8-month-old baby? At 8 months, “junior” foods that have a coarser texture are good choices. Your little one may enjoy things like yogurt, oatmeal, mashed bananas or potatoes, or thicker pureed veggies.
How many hours of sleep does an 8-month-old baby need? Your baby will probably sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day. This includes a longer stretch at night with two naps during the day. Prepare for some interruptions in this schedule, though, as separation anxiety can make her a bit fussier than usual. She may wake during the night and not sleep as many hours as she used to, but this is a phase that will pass.
Can a baby nap too long? If your baby is having trouble sleeping through the night, it may be helpful to limit her daytime naps. You may want to shorten her afternoon naps if nighttime sleeping is a problem.
Your Life as a Parent: Introducing a New Sitter and Handling Weaning
If you’re dealing with separation anxiety and you also happen to need a new sitter or caregiver at this time, you may need to take some additional steps to help prepare your little one for a new face. Here are a few tips for introducing your baby to a new caregiver:
Hold your baby while you and the sitter talk. She'll get to know that this is a trusted person.
Let the sitter talk to your baby while you hold her to build confidence.
Place your baby on the floor with her favorite toys and invite the sitter to slowly come closer and engage with her in play.
Try to briefly leave the room, and, if all goes well, you can confidently leave her with your trusted caregiver.
If you've been breastfeeding, you may find that around the time when your baby is starting to sample different foods, she may be less interested in breastfeeding. This is called natural weaning or infant-led weaning, and it's perfectly fine to let your baby's preferences take the lead. Continue to offer her new food options while still allowing her to breastfeed when she wants.
Some mothers face pressure to wean their babies for a variety of reasons, including a lack of support and encouragement from family and friends, or even a lack of facilities for pumping and feeding at their workplaces. The decision to wean is an intensely personal one, but it’s still advised to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life, and continuing while providing other foods for at least the next year or even two. Consult with your baby's healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for advice on weaning.
As long as you're confident your baby is getting all the nutrients she needs, there is no need to feel any pressure to wean if the time doesn't feel right for you and your baby.