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Month 8: Crawling & Standing

by Penny Warner

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Crawling – Around this time your baby is able to pull her tummy off the ground and crawl on all fours. Once she gets the hang of it, there will be no stopping her. When she reaches this stage, she’ll quickly progress to other gross motor skills, including standing and sitting alone. 
  • Sitting Erect – Your baby is making rapid gains in all areas of body strength and movement, which enables her to sit erect and alone for a few moments. You’ll see her lean forward, place her hands on the floor in front of her, and support herself with her arms and hands. This is another major milestone.
  • Standing – Another major milestone is baby’s ability to stand erect for a few seconds, bearing the weight on her feet. She’s gaining strength in her legs from kicking, creeping, and standing practice, and should be able to stand alone for a few seconds, as she tries to balance herself.

How You Can Help

  • Crawling – Once crawling begins, a whole new world opens up to your baby – and to you – in the form of fun and games. As baby gets up to crawl a few spaces, carefully pull her legs out from under her and pull her back. This strengthens her legs and gives her more practice getting to all fours.
  • Sitting Erect – If your baby needs a little practice sitting up straight, you can help her by placing her in a sitting position, with her legs tucked Indian style, or with one leg in front of her and one behind, depending on her preference. Lean her over slightly and place her hands on the floor. Place a toy on the floor in front of her. When she reaches for it, she may sit erect for a few seconds.
  • Standing – As your baby’s leg strength increases, give her lots of opportunities to practice standing. Hold her upright with her feet on a flat surface – no shoes. Hold her arms, then her hands, then her fingers, then let go, making sure you’re right there to catch her when she collapses. Watch her excitement!

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Cognitive Manipulation – Although we think of baby’s fingers as fine motor tools, they’re also cognitive tools that help baby learn and think about her world. Watch her manipulate objects in a number of ways beyond just grasping, such as squeezing, turning, banging, throwing and transferring.
  • Expectation – As your baby plays more games, she’ll learn to anticipate the actions and outcome. She loves repeating the same games, because she learns to anticipate better, and as her skills improve, she gets better at the actions and responses.
  • Object Permanence – By this time your baby understands object permanence – that when something is out of sight, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gone for good. She will hunt for toys when you hide them within her range, and she’ll fuss when you take objects away from her and try to hide them!

How You Can Help

  • Cognitive Manipulation – Make sure your baby has lots of interesting objects to manipulate so she can study them and learn their different properties. This would be a good time to let your baby hold a sponge, playdough, a slice of bread, a new squeeze toy, a Koosh ball, or rubber ball (large enough she can’t swallow it), wrinkled paper, and so on. Make sure she doesn't place objects in her mouth.
  • Expectation – As you play a favorite game with your baby, begin the game but pause, to see if she anticipates what’s going to happen next. Proceed with the game as usual, but add a new step to it at the end. See if baby learns to anticipate this new addition. For example, if you’re playing Peek-A-Boo, make a funny face when she pulls the cloth off.
  • Object Permanence – Play a game with baby to enhance her awareness of object permanence. Choose two favorite toys and place them in front of your baby. Cover one toy with a cloth and ask baby, “Where did it go?” See if she will pull the cloth off to find it. Repeat with the other toy. Then cover both toys and see what she does. Take it another step by hiding the toy behind your back to see if baby tries to get it.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Fears – If your baby hasn’t shown any fears regarding strangers yet, she may still develop them, a normal stage in her psychological development. It means she’s able to distinguish between those she’s familiar with and those she’s not. Some babies seem extremely fearful, while others are mildly affected. 
  • Exploration – As your baby uses her crawling ability to explore her environment, she may start to get into things that are dangerous or valuable to you. She needs as few boundaries as possible, so set up an environment that she can freely explore. Save the “No!”s for important times. 
  • Caregivers – Babies need to learn to cope with others besides their parents. An occasional babysitter offers a chance to play with someone else, develop independence, and learn new games. 

How You Can Help

  • Fears – If your baby seems very fearful of others, don’t be concerned. She’s just more sensitive, and will outgrow it. You can help her by allowing her to hold onto you, which reassures her that you’re there for her. You might have her share a toy with the other person as a substitute, and let it move slowly from there.
  • Exploration – If you don’t want “No!” to be your baby’s first word, then use it sparingly. Better techniques for helping baby stay within her safe boundaries are: 1. redirection – distract her with something else. 2. simple explanation – “That’s dangerous. Come over here.” 3. removing – remove the object or the baby so the temptation is gone.
  • Caregivers – When leaving baby, make sure it’s someone she’s familiar with. Have the babysitter over to play for a while before you leave her alone with the sitter.