Your baby makes sense of the world through their senses: the five common ones (touch, smell, taste, hear, see)…and a few more (like, balance, position). Plus, they use their natural ability to notice cause and effect (I shake a rattle and it makes noise).

There is a  wonderful book, The Scientist in the Crib, that shares all sorts of interesting examples of how infants get enormous pleasure from using their new skills—touch, movement, making sounds, etc—to discover and understand the world! That means a lot of fun interaction opportunities for you both. 

Your 8-Month-Old Baby’s Development

Your 8-Month-Old's Social Development 

For months, your baby has probably been incredibly generous with their smiles and giggles, giving them freely to strangers on the street. But around 6 to 8 months, even social babies may show fear of strangers. 

Of course, it is hard when your baby bursts into tears when Grandma tries to give a kiss, but this is totally normal. It’s a sign that your baby has a strong and healthy attachment you and that not everyone is a trusted member of the family. Sometimes kids develop special worries around clear physical differences (anxiety around people with beards or glasses) and sometimes they are sensitive to someone speaking too loudly or to strange smells (tobacco or a strong perfume). 

What should you do is your little one is ultra-cautious around strangers? Be patient. 

If the new person is not a frequent visitor, the adult should be understanding. (“Sorry, Aunt Edith, he’s not used to this many new faces. I’m going to hold him for a while and help him warm up.”) If it’s a close friend or family member, have the person stay a little distant, hold a toy that the baby likes, and sit on a low chair or floor. Encourage them to smile, but only for a few seconds (cautious infants don’t like to be stared at or be the center of attention). 

It helps for you to play together, so your baby gets to see that the other person is a friend to you and not a threat to them. (Pass the toy back and forth or practice a little song together). Then every once in a while, offer the toy to the child as a token of friendship. 

Don’t worry…it will get better. The key is to realize that it can take three to five visits—with you being patient and not pushy—for your cautious infant to get comfortable. (PS: This protective instinct is what will keep your 2-year-old from taking the hand of a stranger and just walking away.) 

Exploring the World Through the Senses

Getting from one place to another is so exciting because it is filled with new challenges and joys! In practicing using their muscles, your baby is having a constant “conversation” with their body and senses. They practice—over and over again—but they see what you can do, and they believe they can do it, too. When they can finally stand while supported, the thrill is enormous. (“Yay! I did it! And wow the world looks so cool from here!”) Every day, your child will have the pleasure of being a winner—saying or doing something they couldn’t do the day before. And you get to be their beloved cheerleader!

Between better hand-eye coordination, teething, and starting solids, your baby will likely try to put everything into their mouth. In terms of development, “baby mouthing” is perfectly on track, but from the POV of sanitation and choking…it’s not so charming. 

  • Pick things that are safe to chew on, like teethers or toys without small pieces. 
  • Vacuum and sweep—a lot!—to catch tiny bits of plastic, wrappers, etc. they might find on the floor. 
  • Make sure chemicals and small objects are locked or stored out of reach (washing machine tablets and laundry detergent pods are unique dangers). 
  • Learn baby CPR. (Spoiler alert: It is way different from adult CPR.) 

Your 8-Month-Old Baby’s Sleep

How much should an 8-month-old sleep? 

Of course, being a world explorer is exhausting. By 8 months, your baby is probably still napping twice a day for three to four hours total (some are still napping three times). Your child may also enjoy some quiet time during the waking hours, like a daily walk (daylight and fresh air are a great way to get your baby’s days and nights unconfused) and afternoon storytime. 

If “the morning” still starts a bit too early for you, you’re not alone: Most 8-month-olds wake around 7 a.m., but 10% are early birds who start stretching their wings between 5 and 6 a.m. Early birds tend to run in families, but sometimes it’s a sign that bedtime needs to be pushed a tiny bit later or something is happening that is waking your baby too early. Two easy fixes: Blackout curtains can stop light from rousing your bub, and turning up the sound machine (about as loud as a shower, around 70dB) can drown out noise from other people who are up at the crack of dawn (including noisy trash trucks!) and help them sleep through their feelings of morning hunger.

The 8-Month Sleep Regression

If your baby hit a gnarly sleep regression around 4 months, it may send shivers down your spine that yet another sleep regression is common around 8 to 10 months. So, what’s up now? Separation anxiety, teething, and new milestones are big factors. 

  • Waking up alone in a quiet room can be difficult for a cautious child. Place some friendly helpers nearby to reassure them when they wake (white noise, a pacifier, a little silky lovey, white noise, a night light.) 
  • If your baby is mouthing and drooling like crazy during the day, those little chompers cause annoying throbbing during sleep. Ask your doctor about using some medicine (like ibuprofen) for a few nights to reduce pain and break the waking cycle.  
  • Is your baby loving to crawl or pull up during the day? They may have so much fun practicing, that, when they wake during the night, they want to do it some more. Sometimes they even pull to stand but can’t figure out how to get back down. The goal is to practice getting up and down a lot during the daytime so that they are not as excited about doing it when they should be sleeping. (Oh, and the lovey and white noise can help here, too.)  

If your baby is upset because they wake up and—wah!—realize you aren’t there, fall back on the techniques that worked for you when establishing healthy sleep habits in the first place. 

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.