Infant & Toddler Development
Do you feel overwhelmed with parenting information? Does some of the advice conflict? Does what your parents say differ from what your friends say or from what you read in books and magazines? It can be confusing when the “experts” are not in agreement. When in doubt, seek reliable information and then use your own judgement.
If you have been overloaded with advice, take some time to get to know yourself as a parent. What do you think makes a good parent? What do you feel is important for your child? No one knows your baby as well as you do. When you get advice, ask yourself if it fits into your feelings about your baby and your role as a parent. Rely on your ability to decide what works for you.
You have already learned a lot as a parent. You probably know what is best for you and your baby. Keep up the good work.
What it’s like to be 8 months old
How I grow…
- I pull myself up by holding onto furniture, but I have trouble getting back down.
- I reach for things and hold them with my thumb and first and second fingers.
- I can even see and pick up very tiny things.
- I hold onto a toy for several minutes.
- I may crawl backward and forward on my stomach. I may go from sitting to standing without creeping or crawling.
How I talk…
- I let you know if I am happy, sad, or scared by the sounds I make.
- I still babble a lot when I am by myself.
- I recognize some words.
- I watch and try to imitate your mouth movements.
How I respond…
- I like to kiss my reflection in the mirror.
- I turn and listen when I hear familiar sounds such as the doorbell or my name.
- I raise my voice to get attention.
- I may become quiet when you talk to me.
How I understand…
- I am very curious and want to explore everything.
- I understand the meaning of “in” and “out”.
- I look for things when they fall or when you hide them under a blanket.
- I understand the meaning of “no” but I don’t have self-control yet.
How I feel…
- I am frightened by new experiences and new people.
- I am upset when you leave me, even if it’s for a short time.
- I feel relieved when you return.
How you help me learn…
- Talk to me, sing to me, and hug me.
- Give me an unbreakable mirror so I can study my face.
- Help me understand my body by naming each part when you point to it.
- Let me feel textures. Find soft, hard, rough and smooth things in our house and talk about them. A “touch and feel” book would be fun for me.
- Tell me nursery rhymes over and over again. I am starting to imitate the rhythm of your voice. When I babble, imitate my sounds, but change the rhythm. Soon I will imitate the new pattern. This is great fun and I’m learning about language.
- Allow extra time for my bath. Let me play with sponges, cups, and a washcloth. Don’t forget to watch me closely.
- I’m interested in small and large blocks and toys with wheels. I like to crawl into a big cardboard box. I will use toys in many ways so I don’t need too many things. Don’t expect me to put them away yet.
- I will protest loudly when you want to take things away from me. Substituting one toy for another may work.
- Allow me time to concentrate on things that hold my attention. Don’t interrupt me even to hug me.
Feeding Your Baby
By now your infant probably has several teeth and is chewing on everything. Her appetite is good because she’s growing fast. In a few months, however, her growth will slow down and her appetite will taper off.
Enjoy your baby’s hearty appetite while it lasts and use this period to begin the transition from pureed foods to table foods. Mash table foods with a fork or select commercially prepared junior foods. This will allow your baby to use her new teeth.
Today’s commercial baby foods are low in salt. Your whole family will benefit if you reduce the amount of salt, shoyu, ajinomoto (M.S.G.), or other salty flavorings in the food you prepare.
In selecting or preparing foods suitable for an infant:
- Use freshly cooked foods rather than family leftovers to make baby foods. The bacteria content of foods left over from family meals can be dangerously high for an infant.
- Be aware of foods that can cause choking. Nuts, seeds, popcorn, chips, crack seed, and small pieces of hard raw vegetables are the most frequent problems. Marshmallows or peanut butter fed from a spoon are sticky and can become lodged in the throat. Round foods such as grapes or hot dog slices can block your baby’s airway. Always cut these foods into very small pieces.
- Serve foods cold, at least occasionally. It saves you time. Most babies don’t seem to care at what temperature their dinner is served as long as it arrives quickly.
- Don’t feed your baby raw eggs and make sure all meat is thoroughly cooked. These foods may contain dangerous bacteria when uncooked.
- Avoid honey, even in baked goods, until your child is at least 1 year old. Honey may harbor botulism spores that are dangerous to infants.
- Wait until your baby is at least 1 year old before giving her regular, low fat, or skim milk. Check with your doctor.
Tooth Time Means Chew Time
As teeth come in, your baby may like to chew on a teething ring, hard cookies, or biscuits. You can harden most breads by baking at 150 – 200 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also make teething biscuits at home.
Low Sugar Teething Biscuits
1 egg, eaten
1 1/4–1 1/2 cups flour (white and/or whole wheat)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. wheat germ (optional)
Combine ingredients. Add just enough flour so that mixture can be rolled easily. Roll out dough to 1/8–1/4 inch thickness and cut in rectangles about 1 x 3 inches. Bake at 350 degrees F on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10–15 minutes, or until browned. When cool, the cookies should be quite firm. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen biscuits.
Safety & Your Baby
Earlier issues of The Parent Line Keiki Guide stressed the need to baby proof your house or apartment. Now, as your baby’s mobility is increasing:
- Use corner protectors on sharp edges of furniture.
- Store plastic bags out of reach and tie them in a knot when discarding.
- Store all medicines, cosmetics, beauty items, perfumes, and cleaning aids well out of your baby’s reach.
- Keep balloons away from your baby. More children have suffocated on uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children. As a safeguard, equip your home with a smoke alarm and fire extinguisher.
- Move furniture away from windows.
- Avoid scalds by lowering the temperature setting of your water heater to under 120 degrees.
- Use roach traps (instead of poisons) and keep them out of your child’s reach.
- Cover unused electrical outlets. Outlet covers are available in clear and colored plastic.
- Put safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
At eight months, most babies express a variety of emotions. You may see signs of shyness, anxiety, and frustration, as well as excitement, happiness, and joy. These early expressions are the beginnings of adult emotions. You can help your child deal with these emotions by understanding what she may be feeling.
- If your baby crawls into another room and gets scared when she can’t see you, call her name, talk, or sing to her to let her know you’re still there. The fear and anxiety she feels upon separation shows a healthy emotional attachment to you.
- If she drops a toy and wants it back but can’t get to it, retrieve the toy and handle her tears with a hug or pat. It is never too early to empathize with your baby and accept her emotions.
- If your child tumbles over and isn’t hurt have a good laugh together. Of course, if she’s hurt, handle it calmly, let her know you are aware of how it hurts, and give her a hug.
- If your child is cranky, try distracting her with a song, a poem, or a toy. Don’t ever distract by teasing or name calling.
Your Baby’s Healthy
Your Baby is Unique
Learning to walk and talk takes a lot of time and effort. While your baby is learning to get around, her talking may not develop very rapidly. On the other hand, if she is working hard on her babbling, she temporarily may not be very interested in moving around. Give her the freedom and encouragement to develop at her own rate and in her own style.
- Parents and babies learn together.
- Parents’ needs are important.
- Your baby relies on you. You can rely on others.
- Guide your baby with love and limits.
Take Care of Yourself
For Teen Parents
Over 1,700 teens in Hawai‘i and 1/2 million teenagers nationwide become mothers each year. As a young parent, you may have difficulty finding time for yourself, your baby, your friends, and school.
Problems may arise because you’re a parent to your child but still a child to your own parents. Your parents may want to relieve you of your child care responsibilities in order to allow you to spend time with your friends and complete your education. They may also feel that they need to teach you to accept your new responsibilities as a parent. If tension is building up between you and your parents, here are some ideas that may help.
- Express your feelings as calmly and as patiently as possible.
- Recognize your parents’ concerns and try to understand why they feel the way they do.
- Show by the way you act that you are a responsible person. There are community agencies that can give you support and help in working out family, school, and social problems. Call The Parent Line to find out what agencies can help.
A Parent Asks
Q – I was spanked a lot when I was little, and I really want things to be different for my child. I read about child abuse and when I get mad at my baby, I worry that I could lose control and really hurt her. What can I do?
A – During the first year, you and your baby do a lot of growing and learning together. You have already faced some difficult moments. There will be more. Sometimes it may be difficult to cope.
The responsibility of raising a child creates a wide range of feelings in parents. Parents feel rage, anger, and frustration more easily when they are tired, ill, or under stress. Child abuse may happen at those stressful times. Children can be injured even by those who love them. It is not easy to think about or talk about since most parents do not set out to hurt their children. When you feel you are losing control, leave the room, call a friend, or contact a community support group. Help is available.
If you are worried about how to handle difficult times with your baby, it might help to:
- Call The Parent Line. It’s a free, statewide service, and you don’t have to give your name. You may ask any question about your child’s development or behavior. You can also find out about community services. Check the Parent Resource Directory.
- Talk with your family, friends, doctor, minister, rabbi or priest.