- A baby needs just one other person for fun, but he will enjoy almost any interaction with that person. The classic games of "peek-a-boo," "pat-a-cake" and "so-o-o big" are joyous discoveries. Play peek-a-boo and change your expression while your face is hidden. You can also play peek-a-boo while changing the baby's shirt or by simply flipping his bib up and down, and soon he'll try his own hand at the trick.
- Between 7 and 9 months of age, a baby begins to understand mirrors and pictures. Take your baby close to a large mirror and enjoy watching her make the connection between your familiar face and what must be herself. Once she's made this fascinating discovery, make a safe mirror available among her toys. She may also enjoy cloth or board books and will begin learning the words you use to name the animals and objects pictured there.
- By about 8 months, your baby should be experimenting with sound---babbling repetitive syllables, smacking his lips and doing "raspberries." You can encourage this important step toward forming words by making it a conversation and appreciating the baby's efforts. Mimic back nonsense sounds, but use real words for objects and people. Supply more words whenever you can, discussing the people and things you see around the house or on an expedition.
- Your 8-month-old may be able to maintain a sitting position, probably can roll both front to back and back to front and may even be crawling. She will stand if you help her with her balance. There are plenty of dangers in independent mobility, but she needs the practice to advance to walking. Use a small resistance ball, both as a support to bounce on and as a target to encourage the baby to reach for something herself. Roll the ball back and forth across the floor to her as you sit face to face with your legs extended around hers.
The Finer Things
- Small muscles need exercise, too, and your baby will learn to grasp with his thumb and a finger or two, instead of his fist. Be careful to avoid things he could choke on, poke himself with or get tangled in, but supply hollow stacking-and-nesting cups, collections of "keys" or shapes meant for babies, and things to flip or spin while they stay attached to a board or blanket. Allow him to feed himself, though it will be messy fistfuls of puree. Books, especially those with a variety of textures to explore on their pages, help babies with their fine-motor skills, too.