As you know, babies do develop at varying rates which can be hard on parents if your baby hasn’t met some milestones as quick as others. Below is a guide to some of the things you can expect from 8 months onwards, however do remember, if your baby isn't quite doing these things yet they will be soon enough.
Where to start, there is so much going on now! One of the big ones is the emergence of your little one's personality. Whether they be adventurous or considered, busy or methodical, gregarious or shy, one of the most precious experiences as a parent is learning all about who this little person is you helped create and what makes them, well, them!
Also around the 8 month mark you should notice an improvement in your baby's fine motor skills – things like hand-eye coordination improve with the ability to pick up toys and play with them in a more deliberate way. This also helps babies at this age to feed themselves which, as we know, is a very important skill which will stay with them for life.
During your baby's first year of life, they will grow quickly. It is almost like watching a time lapse video before your very own eyes! Around this age babies can put on as much as 100g per week but again, not all do so don't worry if your baby isn't putting on as much as this, a weight increase in itself is a good thing and a sign that your baby is developing well.
When they do have growth spurts you might notice large fluctuations on how much your little one eats.
As above, you might notice big swings in appetite at this age, depending on how much your little one needs. Getting in to a routine with food helps regulate your baby's appetite and gives you a good read on how much they are eating. When they are little, you may have fed them on demand. However, by this age, it is a good idea to start to set meal times, the optimum being 3 meals a day followed by their usual milk with a few small snacks in between.
Introducing new foods
Once your baby is happy taking food from a spoon, it is time to widen their exposure to different tastes and texture. Even if they don't have teeth yet, offering them soft lumps in foods or finger foods not only helps them with their jaw development and hand-eye coordination but also gives them a sense of independence when it comes to food. And also hopefully develops an eater not afraid of different textures and flavours.
Constipation isn’t pleasant for anyone mum and dad included! It’s not uncommon for babies to suffer with constipation around this stage, whereby your baby's poo will become small and hard like little pellets, and your baby might seem a bit cranky when they go to the toilet.
There can be a number of causes of constipation in little ones, often increasing their fluid intake helps. And it is less common in breastfeed babies too.
A few tips to help your constipated baby include:
- If your baby is formula fed, triple check that you are making up the bottles to the exact manufacturer's standards. Always use the correct scoop and make sure you are adding the powder to the water, not the other way around.
- As your baby moves on to solids, they may cut back on their milk intake so remember to offer water to keep their fluids up. Try giving them some extra cooled boiled water once or twice a day (around 50ml each time).
- If that doesn't work, you could try mixing one tablespoon of fruit juice with the 50 ml of cooled water, or one teaspoon of brown sugar mixed with 50 ml of cooled water) once or twice a day. Once their poo softens up, make sure you stop the juice and sugar. These remedies are treatment only, not preventative so if your baby's poo problems keep recurring do see your GP or maternal health nurse for advice.
- Avoid bran cereals as these are a bit too harsh on the tummies of little ones and can quickly make the problem worse.
The other end of the scale... diarrhoea
Diarrhoea in babies under 12 months is not much fun what so ever. Babies can quickly get dehydrated as well as losing vital nutrients, so it’s best to see your GP or speak with your maternal health nurse to determine the best approach and not let it linger.
There are two golden rules:
1) Be careful with your hygiene so as to avoid spreading the infection to other family members, or worse, reinfecting your baby.
2) Keep your baby's fluids up. If you are breastfeeding, you will need to try and get in a few extra feeds. Bottle fed babies over six months might be able to have an electrolyte solution for 24 hours but again, discuss this with your GP.
If your baby is sleeping through the night at eight months, congratulations, you have hit the sleeping baby jackpot! If not and you are desperate for a little shut eye, do talk to your GP or maternal health nurse as they might be able to give you some guidance. Alternatively, try to remember that all babies will sleep through the night eventually – how many 40 year olds do you know who wake up crying during the night?!
Babies at this stage also need around two sleeps during the day, say one in the morning and one in the afternoon. And as that old adage goes, 'sleep promotes sleep' so no doubt the better your baby is at sleeping during the day, the better they are at night and vice versa.
Bath time is (usually) a fun affair for babies around this age, as they learn to sit up on their own and splash around. It goes without saying, but never leave your little one unattended for a second in the bath at this age. If the phone rings or somebody knocks at the door they can wait, your baby's safety is all that matters.
Many babies start to crawl around this age (some earlier, plenty later). And once they are off, you will need to be extra careful as you will be stunned by the things they can get to and the speed with which they can move. It might seem a bit ridiculous but pop down on the floor as if you are going to crawl and see the world from their perspective and you might spy some potential hazards which you otherwise hadn't seen such as dangling cords or sharp corners.
Pulling to stand up
Curious to the core, your 8 month old baby may delight in a new found ability to pull themselves up and peer at the thrilling contents on your coffee table! As with the crawling stage, you will no doubt find yourself a lot busier baby proofing surfaces so as to not leave any hot cuppas or breakables in reaching distance. Some 8 months old start to practise moving from one piece of furniture to another which is a sign that they are well on their way to those all exciting first baby steps!