Your 7-month-old is one-of-a-kind! Your child is developing their unique likes and dislikes, from what makes them giggle to how eagerly they babble (or just quietly observe). Even identical twins often show clear differences at this age. 

The flipside to that amazing individualism is very common parent comparison trap. When a group of new parents gets together, it usually doesn’t take too long before the conversation turns to milestones. One baby is ready to walk…one is speaking five words…and another mom proudly informs the group that her brilliant baby was just accepted to college! 

Taking pride in your baby and their accomplishments is perfectly fine. But worrying because your baby isn’t hitting the same marks as the 7-month-old next door isn’t helpful for anyone. All babies develop at their own rates—even their rate of physical growth and achieving milestones in physical, social, cognitive, and language abilities. 

Of course, if you have ANY concerns about your child’s development you should ask your child’s doctor. And, as for those conversations at playdates: Smile, cheer on the other babies, and then remind yourself that your special sweetie is perfect just the way they are!

Your 7-Month-Old Baby’s Development

Remember when decoding your baby’s cries meant going down the checklist of possibilities? (Hmmm, hungry? Wet? Bored?) These days, your little buddy’s opinions are much more obvious. Now they have a whole vocabulary of smiles, squeals, frowns, and finger pointing to use in communication. By 7 months you and your baby are now starting to speak the same language! 

Of course, you will be talking up a storm with your little one, but none of your baby’s “chatting” will be actual spoken words. In the beginning it is all gesturing and grunting, exactly like you would do if you suddenly found yourself in a country where you couldn’t speak the language! Gestures let you speak…without words (non-verbal communication). No need for the brain’s advanced ability to make sentences (that lives in the “adult” left half of the brain…and takes many more months to blossom). Gesturing is a very basic way to communicate that lives in the very social “toddler” right half of your baby’s brain.   

Language Development at 7 Months 

After closely listening to the world around them for seven months now, your baby should be able to recognize some common words—including their name, mama, dada, milk, and so on. One great way to help them link the spoken word to the actual thing it describes is by reading a favorite picture book over and over…and over again. 

Reading familiar books with little kids helps them learn new words and new ideas. And—here’s the really fun part—don’t just read the books, always add one or two little comments or questions about each page (notice the color on the page, point out the same color in the room, count the number of things on the page, ask: have you ever seen/eaten/touched one?, what does it feel like? taste like?) This is a precious opportunity to feed your baby’s brain a rich selection of delicious words and ideas!

Even if your baby’s not saying words yet, they’re definitely working on making sounds. By 8 months infants have already learned the particular sounds that make their native language special and distinct (be it Mandarin or Icelandic…or a Southern accent in the US!). 

All babies are born with the ability to hear sounds…and they can even hear the difference between the 600 consonants and 200 vowels used in every single language…in the entire world. That shifts around 6 months when they start focusing on the sounds of their family’s language…sounds they hear over and over, every day. After that age, their ability to hear sounds that are not used by their family gradually lessens. This is why it’s great to expose your child to as many languages as you can. Little kids are great at learning to understand and speak multiple languages…with a perfect accent! 

Mobility at 7 Months

Ready for takeoff! Most babies find some way to be mobile around this point, but not all methods of getting from Point A to Point B are the same. Some of the most common styles of crawling or scooting include the classic crawl, bear crawl, belly crawl, bottom scoot, crab crawl, or even simply rolling.  

Although they can’t stand unassisted yet, they probably love exercising their chubby little legs by bouncing up and down when you’re holding them or in a standing play gym. Pretty soon, they will get onto their hands and knees and start rocking back and forth…preparing to crawl.  

You should be able to tell if your baby is on the verge of crawling when they can push up from their tummy into a seated position, begin to rock onto their hands and knees when seated, or try to pull themselves along with their arms while doing tummy time. If your baby isn’t yet making moves toward crawling, don’t worry. Some babies are simply content to stay in one place for another few months! 

It’s pretty funny to watch babies as they start to crawl. Some can move their legs back and forth, but they can’t yet figure out the arm movements…so they are trying to crawl but end up staying in place. Others want to crawl forward, but their bodies end up getting confused and their little faces look so surprised when they end up crawling backwards!  

Note: When your baby is ready to go places (or ideally before then), start babyproofing the house. you don’t have much time left before your little one is on the prowl. Get on your hands and knees and see everything from their POV. Block off stairs, lock cabinets that contain cleaners or other toxic solutions, secure heavy furniture with wall anchors, cover outlets, put pads on sharp corners, and swap corded blinds for versions without cords. 

Fine-Motor Skills at 7 Months 

While your little one is working hard at big muscle coordination, also be sure to notice (and cheer!) the gradual improvement in their fine muscle skills.

You’ve been experiencing your child’s iron grip for months, but now things start to get more interesting as two new things begin to develop: better aim (nabbing your glasses on the first lightning grab) and letting go. Infants learn to grab first, but they try so hard to grab, they can have a hard time sending message to their hands to let go.  But, around this age they are much better at releasing (this becomes very important when they start feeding themselves!).

Over the next few months you will see a very specific development of the grasp:

  • First in the palm– everything is captured in the palm with all fingers being used (no particular use of the amazing thumb that makes humans so special!)
  • Then towards the thumb and next two fingers.
  • By 9 months a pincer grasp (first thumb and side of the index finger…then tip of the thumb and tip of index finger…perfect for picking up individual Cheerios…and also, lint, staples, etc.) 

One last point about control of the little muscles…a couple of months before the hands can do a pincer grasp, your amazing child will be mastering a pincer of...the mouth! It usually starts in the back of the throat (making a “ga-ga” sound then marches forward over the next couple of months to “da-da” and then a very precise “ma-ma” and finally “pa-pa”!)

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