Lunging—and Maybe Crawling
Sitting becomes a favorite pastime for babies in their seventh month. Most babies can now sit unsupported—although consider keeping those cushions nearby in case she topples!
When your child sees an interesting object out of reach, she may try to get it. Lunging forward from a sitting position is a very important movement. In time, as she continues lunging, she may pivot up onto her knees for an extra long stretch. She’ll learn that she can hold herself up on all fours. She may rock back and forth with this new position, practicing for the next big movement: crawling.
Crawling in itself is not a milestone: Seeing an out-of-reach object and figuring out how to get it is a milestone. Some babies creep on their bellies, some crawl, others scoot on their bottoms. Some babies skip this stage altogether and start pulling up to a stand and walking. But your baby is probably very content right now to sit and observe the interesting sights around her. Enjoy this time, because she will soon be in constant motion.
With Baby becoming more mobile, now is a good time for you to think about safety. Look at your home carefully. Cover electrical plugs, encase cords for blinds and draperies, and remove breakable or sharp objects from coffee tables and other places where baby will be able to reach.
Consider spots in the home which might require a gate—definitely at the top and bottom of stairs! It’s important that Baby has a safe space to explore, because for the next months that will be her job: to check out and investigate every nook and cranny in your home.
There is a continuum for how active and inquisitive babies can be during this stage. Some parents have reported doing minimum babyproofing of the home for one child and then doing a major childproofing overhaul for the next.
If you have a very active child who is almost crawling, consider having a safety expert come to your home and point out potential dangers. If your baby seems content sitting and is not as interested in learning how to crawl, you may still have some time. Either way, check out this babyproofing checklist to think about which steps to take next.
Big Tub for Baby
By now, Baby is probably too big for the infant tub, but wet baby bodies are slippery, and placing a baby directly in the tub may be frightening for parents. You may want to use a bath seat, a small seat with suction cups on the bottom that attaches to the floor of tub, especially now that Baby enjoys sitting. Often these seats swivel and have seat belts and toy bars. They offer a helpful way to introduce Baby to the big tub.
Additionally, there are devices on the market designed to minimize drowning risks; these items help maintain shallower bathing depths while recirculating clean bath water at a temperature comfortable for your baby.
Just remember, whether Baby is in an infant tub, a seat, sitting on her own in the tub, or even in a tub with a shallow-water device, you should never turn away from your child in the tub—not even for a second. It takes very little time and very little water for disaster. Enough said.
Another fun way to handle bath time with your child is to join her in the tub. She will feel secure with you right there, and you can both relax and enjoy the water (and the bath toys!).
Bath time is a great opportunity to connect with Baby after a long day. Test the water with your elbow, a part of your anatomy that is more sensitive to temperature than your hands. Have your supplies ready: towel, washcloth, cleanser, shampoo, and anything else you need. Take Baby out of the water carefully and quickly cover her in a fluffy towel and dry off. Often, it is not the water that bothers babies who don’t seem to like the bath, but being wet and cold.
There are, of course, great toys for the bath, ones that squirt water or soft sponges in the shapes of animals. Plastic cups for baby to stack, fill with water, and pour are winners. And no baby’s bath is complete without a rubber ducky.
(Are you a baby-bathing pro? Take our quiz to find out!)
Sometime between month six and 12, your baby may show the first signs of being wary of strangers. She can now clearly distinguish between people she knows and people she doesn’t. It is a normal phase and affects children in varying degrees.
You play a very important role in helping her deal with strangers. First, you never have to apologize to anyone for her reactions. Her response is not an indicator of insecurity or a reflection of your parenting skills. Instead, talk to your baby about the stranger: “This is your Uncle Peter. He has heard a lot about you. He looks very happy to meet you.” Your baby will accept the stranger must faster if she can feel your own acceptance. If you like this person, then maybe he is safe.
From the safety of your arms, Baby will watch the stranger’s face and listen to the tone of the conversation between you and the mysterious, new person. Give her the space to become more comfortable. If your baby is more sensitive to strangers, it may not be a good idea to hand her over to the new person to be held. In time, she will warm up and engage the stranger in her own individual way. (Click here to see other social and emotional milestones in Baby’s first year.)
Also, around this time, your baby may seem to have a harder time separating from you. Separation anxiety can appear anytime after 6 months, but usually peaks closer to 12 months.
Separating from Baby is a huge milestone for parents, too. If your baby is upset or clinging, it can be heartbreaking. This raises questions for parents such as “Is my baby insecure?” “Is she too dependent?” “Why can’t she trust others?” “Am I a bad parent for leaving her?” Hard as it may be, try not to worry. This is a normal stage in her development, and there are specific strategies that you can use to help you and Baby separate more easily.
- Leave her with a caregiver that you and she know and trust. Stranger and separation anxiety often go hand in hand. Spend some time with this caregiver together, so she can feel your own trust in this person.
- Communicate to the caregiver about the specific ways to support your baby. Does she have a special blanket? Does she use a pacifier? What is her napping schedule? How does she like to be held? Does she have special words to signify special objects?
- If you are separating from your child regularly, try to establish a routine. Children thrive in predictable, responsive environments. If they know what comes next, they feel safe.
- Always, even if Baby is happily playing, say goodbye. Tell her that you will be back and you want her to have a good time with _____ (name of caregiver). Drawn-out goodbyes are hard on everyone. Be confident! Your baby will have a much easier time if she knows you feel good about leaving her with the caregiver.
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