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Baby Development: Your 8-Month-Old

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Your Baby’s Language

Soon your baby will learn a meaningful word which, when you think about it, is an amazing intellectual feat.  However, as you well know if you have ever tried to learn a second language, it’s easier to understand than it is to speak.  So it takes months after the brilliant idea for first words to actually be spoken.

Your Baby’s Cognitive Skills

By entering the realm of language and symbolic thought, object permanence takes a leap ahead.  No longer solely at the mercy of the senses (“If I can’t see or touch it, it doesn’t exist”), your baby has the beginnings of this concept: “Things continue to exist even if I can’t directly sense them.”   So now she will continue to look for an object that is completely hidden.  After all, it must be somewhere.

Time to Get Serious About Baby-Proofing

All of these developmental leaps make for an exciting, if somewhat hair-raising time.  But as your little one gets more mobile and more curious and more able to corral small objects, new safety issues emerge.

As a start, pretend you’re your infant and crawl all around your house looking for danger (“What’s that under the couch?”  “How did that little toy -- so easy to aspirate -- get under the bed?” “What happened to the plug on that electrical outlet?”) and remove all risks: 

  • With increased mobility often comes the need to put gates on thoroughfares so they can’t tumble down the stairs.
  • Put latches on all kitchen cabinets, especially those with toxic cleaning and other bottles.  But leave one or two open, filled with pots and pans and wooden spoons that your child can happily and safely play with in explorations of planet kitchen.
  • Have the number of Poison Control by your phone.
  • Watch for choking hazards. 
  • Keep all medications safely stored.
  • Be sure your water temperature is <120 so no scalding accidents can occur.
  • Rear facing car seats at all times are a must.

I don’t mean to make you paranoid (actually, I suppose I do), but the No. 1 priority of  parenting is to help your child make it through childhood intact, and of all the risks for your baby’s well-being, unintentional injuries by far leads the list.  Now, by virtue of the wonderful developmental milestones soon to come, many of those risks will be greatly increased.  Don’t be caught napping.

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