Get Your Running Shoes
By this age, babies are usually very mobile. As a result, so are you! Their abilities to move include crawling quickly, flip-flopping into sitting from virtually any position, and possibly even walking.
Don’t rely only on your childproofing to keep Baby safe: His job right now is to move, explore, and learn. You need to be one step ahead of him. (Learn from other parents’ babyproofing mishaps, here.)
A coffee table is just the right height for baby to pull up to a stand and practice cruising or taking steps while holding on for balance. He may cruise from one piece of furniture to another around your living room. This is very satisfying because Baby can now view an object and move himself while standing up to reach it. He may even hold on with one hand and make attempts to bend down and pick up an enticing toy off the ground. Or, watch his face as he lets go and stands all by himself. This is a triumph—only to be topped by those first few steps that are just around the corner.
What about Walkers?
You may have been given a walker as a gift or offered one as a hand-me-down. Infant walkers are controversial. Some parents swear by them. Developmentally, however, experts feel that walkers do not support the skills needed for Baby to learn how to walk as they utilize muscles in a different way. Basically, walkers enable babies to do things that they are developmentally ready to do on their own. They are also the cause of more accidents than any other type of children’s toy, particularly if they are used near the top of stairs or in the kitchen near a hot dish. These examples may seem obviously unsafe, but the point is, walkers allow children to move very quickly. Since the children are standing, they are at a better vantage point to reach things. Combined with non-stop curiosity, a walker could potentially put Baby in a very unsafe situation.
This being said, you may decide not to offer your child a baby walker and then find him using a chair or another large item to push and walk at the same time. This is a bit different because these items are heavy and not on wheels, so he cannot really get the same speed that he can with a commercial walker.
(Are you thinking, “But what about Exersaucers?”
Baby’s Not Crawling?
If your baby is not crawling or pulling to a stand by this age, you may be concerned about his development. There are many normal, healthy babies who are not as interested in gross motor activities and are quite content to sit and play quietly. These babies may be great observers of more active babies—constantly watching and absorbing information.
Chances are your baby will start crawling suddenly. Remember, some babies don’t crawl: Many scoot on their bottoms, creep on their tummies, or figure out other means of getting from point A to point B. Some go straight to pulling to a stand and cruising around furniture. Once these babies start moving, they tend to learn how to move themselves at a faster rate than the more active babies did a few months back.
It is far more important to support your baby’s individual interests than to push him into doing something before he is ready. If you are still concerned about your child’s lack of interest in moving, talk to his healthcare provider who can do an assessment, which will probably result in your peace of mind. Our advice? Enjoy not having to chase your baby while you can!
Peek-a-Boo and Object Permanence
Baby’s memory has made great strides this month. He is developing the cognitive ability to remember that you still exist even when he doesn’t see you. There are some games that babies like to play that support learning about the permanence of objects.
Even if you haven’t initiated a game of peek-a-boo with your baby yet, he probably will. A lot of babies like to take their favorite blankets, put them over their heads, and then pull them back to see parents’ smiling faces. He will love it if you say something while he is covered, such as, “Where did baby go?” If he is not initiating the game with a blanket, try your hands over your eyes. He’ll surely imitate you, have great fun, and be learning at the same time.
Another interesting game for Baby is to hide a favorite object under a blanket. He is learning that he can pick up the blanket to get his toy back. (Click here to see this in action!)
Now that he understands object permanence, Baby may react strongly when you say goodbye. (This is tied very strongly to the separation anxiety around month 7.) He knows that you exist and are just somewhere without him. It is very important for you and your caregiver to explain that you will always come back to get him. He’ll get through this phase with your support and love.
It will probably be another month or two before you hear Baby’s first real word, but even now he is communicating with you all the time. You two can teach each other signals to communicate his needs.
If he is in the high chair and wants to get out, for example, teach him to hold up his arms as a sign. Of course, keep exposing him to language by explaining to him what he is telling you. “Oh, are you done? You want to get out of the high chair? You want to get down?”
Another popular signal is a simple bye-bye wave. When Baby is separating from you, give a wave and tell him that you’re leaving and will see him later. In the beginning, Baby may wave after the fact, showing that he is absorbing the information and practicing. In time, he’ll wave right back to you.
More Development Help
As you’re considering your child’s development, keep in mind that all babies are unique. Whether your baby reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s development, please check with her healthcare provider.
Now…Let’s Take a Closer Look at Each Week
- Week 40: Following Your Gaze
- Week 41: Using Tools
- Week 42: Pairing Objects with Actions
- Week 43: Demystifying Separation Anxiety