As your baby reaches the motor milestone of beginning to move about on his own, his curiosity and social skills are also taking off. It’s a busy but fun time for development.
Remember that milestones are merely general markers, and not every baby reaches them at the same time. So don’t worry if your baby isn’t exactly following this timetable. He may still be working toward some targets from the previous month or two—or toward ones that more typically show up in later months. Older babies in particular follow very individual timetables. Sometimes they focus on one new skill so intently that they put off working on others until they’ve mastered it. This behavior is normal. Just keep supporting him with your love, interaction, and good nutrition.
Here are some of the developments you’re likely to see by the end of your baby’s seventh month.
One of the biggest discoveries your baby has been making during the past few months is that things and people still exist even when he can’t see them. This concept is called object permanence. Now when he drops something out of his sight, he knows that it’s there and may cry for it or try to reach for it. When you play peekaboo, he understands that your face still exists behind your fingers and waits in eager anticipation of seeing it again.
Your baby is making leaps in both fine motor skills (use of his hands) and gross motor skills (use of his body—arms and legs, in particular). As his hand movements become more coordinated, your baby can pick up small objects using his thumb and index finger like a pincer. (Before this development, he could only use his hands like mittens to rake objects toward or away from him.) This new ability also lets him hold a wider variety of objects or hold one item in each hand. Meanwhile he’s getting better at sitting up on his own and looking around for longer periods. He can roll from front to back and back to front. Look out: All this rolling, combined with the rocking and scooting motions he may also be mastering, means he’s getting ready to crawl!
Without being able to say a word yet, your baby can now communicate in some fairly sophisticated ways. By paying attention to your speech, he’s learned about conversational turn-taking—that two people go back and forth when they talk—and will babble and then pause for you to take a turn before starting again. His babbles increasingly mix vowels and consonants and try to imitate words he hears you say. (So choose your words carefully!) When he wants or needs something, he may yell, bang his hands on a high chair, or squeal to get your attention.
Your baby knows exactly who you are and recognizes other familiar people in his world, and he’s happy to see his “friends.” He can also now distinguish who isn’t in that close inner circle. He may react with wariness or fear when faced with someone unfamiliar—the beginnings of stranger anxiety, a normal phase many babies go through. One development that may help interactions with “strangers”: your baby’s new ability to pick up on your emotions from your tone of voice. Try soothing words to comfort and reassure your baby.