There’s a whole world out there and your little cutie’s starting to figure it out. Their developing brain turns them into a confident and curious individual. As their physical strength improves, they’re off to explore on their own. Of course, every 8-month-old’s development will be different. Older babies follow very individual schedules, sometimes focusing so intently on one new skill that other skills don't advance for a few weeks. And, that’s completely normal.
Your 8-month-old baby’s cognitive development
Your little one can recognize people and objects from across the room now that their eyesight is almost fully mature. They begin to understand the sound of their name and may perk up or turn toward you when you say it. Brace yourself; it’s adorable. Your baby is starting to understand object permanence—the notion that people and things still exist even when they can't see them.
For instance, when they drop something out of sight, they know it's there and may try to reach for it or even cry for it. Or if you play peekaboo, they understand that your face is there behind your fingers, and they’ll wait in anticipation of seeing it again, which is a pretty great feeling.
This eagerness also means that your baby now knows you're nearby when you move out of their line of sight or into the next room, easing their anxiety. As your baby’s brain grows, they begin to realize that they can make things happen. "If I push this button, my favorite toy will light up!"
Your 8-month-old’s motor skills
Now that your baby sits up for longer stretches of time, balance and strength will be put to the test. Interesting toy? They’ll work to move and stretch to reach it. At this stage, the hard part for you may be resisting the urge to grab that toy and hand it to them. Be strong! Instead, try making it into a game for the two of you. Place a toy within your baby’s reach and encourage them when they make an effort to grab it on their own.
Eight months means big advances in both gross motor skills (use of the limbs and body) and fine motor skills (use of the hands). They might roll and scoot getting ready to crawl or use their hands like mittens to rake objects toward them. As their hand movements become more coordinated, they’ll learn to pick up small objects with their thumb and index fingers like a pincer. This new skill allows them to hold a wider variety of objects. For example, everything that’s around.
Your 8-month-old baby’s communication skills
Without being able to say a word yet, your baby can communicate in some fairly sophisticated ways. They learn about conversational turn-taking—that two people go back and forth when they talk—by paying attention to you. They might babble and then pause for you to take a turn before starting again. Cuteness. Parents who speak to their child and read books to them start building their little one’s vocabulary.
To encourage your budding communicator, talk to them, ask them questions, tell them what you're doing, read them books, and wait for them to respond back. Your baby will increasingly mix vowels and consonants with their babbles, trying to imitate the actual words you say. Other ways they communicate at this stage are by pointing, crawling, or gesturing toward objects.
Your 8-month-old’s social skills
Your baby knows their familiar people very well at this age and is happy to see them. This means they can also distinguish who isn't in that inner circle. They may react with wariness or fear when faced with someone unfamiliar, like a neighbor or new babysitter—a reaction known as stranger anxiety. In these situations, you can ease your baby’s mind by holding them close and letting them slowly warm up to the new person.
It’s fun to watch as they understand more and more of the world around them. Your 8-month-old’s development is just beginning. As they continue to delight and amaze us with their progress, get ready for even more incredible developments next month.