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Your 8-Month-Old

Is your baby on the move yet? He may have figured out a unique form of scooting, or he may be starting to crawl (or looking like he wants to). It's a trip the first time you set your baby down, leave the room and come back to see him in a different spot. Imagine how it feels from his perspective, to know that so much is within reach! If you haven't already, it's time to take the glass vases off low shelves and cover sharp corners—the more baby-proofed space your little one has in which to move, the more exercise and safe experimenting he can do.

Eat

New foods are opening up to your baby with each passing week. Within reason, you can start thinking of your baby as eating what you eat (allergies and certain foods, like honey and nuts, notwithstanding), but in mashed or diluted form. It makes sense to expose your baby to lots of textures and flavors, and feed him whole, not processed, foods. Eat with him—make him a version of what you're eating, sit together at the table and chat while you experience the joy of shared meals. Try not to show big praise or frustration with your baby over what he eats.

Instead of: "Oh wow, you really don't like that food, do you?" (insert yucky face)

Try: "Oh, you don't know that food yet, huh? It's a different flavor."

Board-certified infant feeding specialist Cynthia Epps shares some of the foods your baby could be eating in the next couple of months:

Protein

Egg yolks (hard-boiled or scrambled)

Beans—cooked, pureed or mashed

Lean beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork and/or tofu—pureed

Veggies and fruits

Spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, winter squash—steamed, pureed and diluted with water.

Grains

Kasha, buckwheat, quinoa, corn meal, millet, flax, brown rice, farina and amaranth may be served individually, or as mixed whole grain cereals, breads, toast, muffins, pasta (pureed or in small, soft, cooked pieces). Mixed whole-grain infant cereals, and/or white or brown rice infant cereals may be mixed with breast milk or formula to boost the iron absorption in each serving.

Any commercially prepared Stage 2 baby foods. (Read the labels to avoid dairy and sugar.)

Sleep

Even the best sleepers will have an off day. You may have a carefully crafted sleep routine, but what happens when you travel, your baby gets sick or she learns a new skill that she's excited to practice at night? "Babies aren't robots; they're bound to naturally have nights when sleep is disrupted," says "The Happy Sleeper" author Heather Turgeon. This is why in her work with parents, Turgeon encourages them not to think in terms of "sleep training."

"The best sleepers come from families who don't think of good sleep as a one-time fix, but as an overall philosophy that lasts through the years." The habits you set up now, like an early bedtime, a good bedtime routine that ends with baby falling asleep on her own and a sleep-friendly bedroom, says Turgeon, will last through childhood and beyond.

A sample sleep schedule for an 8-month-old taking 3 naps:

Wake: 6:00 a.m.

Nap: 8:00 a.m.

Nap: 12:30 p.m.

Nap: 3:00 p.m.

Bedtime: 7:30 p.m.

A sample sleep schedule for an 8-month-old taking 2 naps:

Wake time: 6:30 a.m.

Nap 1: 9:00 a.m.

Nap 2: 2:00 p.m.

Bedtime: 7 p.m.

Play

We all know that talking to your baby is important—the number and sophistication of words little ones hear from us directly influences their verbal skills, social skills and more. But here's a tip that parents don't hear as often: Listening to your baby is just as important. It's tempting to jump in when your baby starts babbling and finish her "sentences," but challenge yourself to truly listen. Yes, right now it's mostly strings of repetitive syllables, but if your baby gets the feeling you're paying attention to her unique contributions, she'll be motivated to share more. Imagine how important that parenting skill will be as she grows.

Milestones

  • Your baby probably sits unsupported.
  • The average baby starts to crawl around 8 months.
  • Some babies find alternative ways of getting around (scooting or moving while sitting up).
  • Baby babbles are becoming more sophisticated and adapting word-like sounds.

LOOK AHEAD: Your 9-Month-Old

Photograph by: Getty Images

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