As the parent to a bouncing 7-month-old, your schedule probably just got a little more hectic. Where it was once all about multiple naps during the day, you're probably more focused on making sure your little one stays put for more than five minutes. That's because your little Curious George is getting more mobile by the day, along with other developmental changes that mean your life just got a lot more interesting. Get prepped and ready for the new stuff you'll be dealing with this month.
Loves to Play. Your little one is now interested in objects and their relationships with each other. For instance, if you hide a rattle or small toy under a blanket, she'll probably pick up the blanket because she understands that it's hiding what she wants. She'll also show more interest in board books with tons of colors, shapes, and textures.
- Read with your baby, even if she's too young to "get" the storyline. Pediatrician Dr. Tisa Johnson-Hooper points out that it's the perfect time to bond with your budding reader. "Snuggle with baby and read aloud to her. Share books with baby by letting baby taste and hold the books," she suggests. "Name and point to the pictures, and help baby turn the pages of the book."
- Get ready to play endless games of peekaboo! Hidden item activities are your baby's favorite, because she finally has the skills to manipulate objects or understand how you're hiding your face with your hands. Get older siblings to play along; they'll love finally getting to interact with the family's newest addition.
- Since your child's beginning to understand how objects relate to each other, she'll likely start grouping and stacking her playthings. If she's hypnotized by a mirror, jump into the frame behind her. Your baby will spin instinctively to look at you, instead of mistaking your reflection for her mama.
Starts to Crawl. Your little one loves to roll, but is constantly looking for other ways to move around. Don't worry if she's not crawling yet; barring any developmental issues, she'll start army crawling on her belly soon. If your little one has already graduated to getting around on her hands and knees, you'll need to get down on the floor too. Survey your space and make sure electrical outlets, choking hazards, and cords are all out of sight from your curious little one.
- If she's not crawling just yet, place your babe on the floor on her belly and then set down toys that are just out of her reach. She'll reach out first, then probably scoot on her belly, which helps build the muscles necessary for crawling.
- Time for babyproofing! Besides the outlets and computer cords, it's a good idea to install stair gates at the base and top of each of your stairways.
No Means No. Your baby Einstein is quickly learning more and more about communication. Not only will she start responding to her own name, but she'll also begin reacting to the word "no". That's great, because if she's mobile, you'll probably be uttering that word more often!
- Try baby sign language to help your little one communicate. She won't be able to mimic the signs just yet, but making a sign when you say certain key words, like milk or no, can help lay a foundation for when your little learner's ready to try the signs herself.
- Use no sparingly. If you want your baby to both understand and learn to respect the word no, only use it when your she's doing something that could be dangerous. That way, your child learns to listen as well as understand what you're saying.
- Call out to your baby—you may be surprised at her reaction! Not only does your tiny tot know when you're talking about her, she can identify your emotions by the tone you use. This will prompt her to answer back with her own peals of laughter or grunts of displeasure.
Jump Around. A 7-month-old should have the body strength to put some of her weight on her legs. When you lift her up to stand on her legs, she'll probably start bouncing around.
- Invest in a jumper. Some come on stationary frames, while others clip safely onto doorways. They have springs and harnesses so your baby can bounce until her heart's delight. She'll love the freedom and you'll get a few seconds with your hands free to pop in a load of laundry. Thoroughly research what's on the market, and pick the jumper you think fits best with your baby.
- Talk with your pediatrician if your little one refuses to put weight on her legs. She should be comfortable with supporting some of her weight herself. If she tucks her legs out or shows discomfort, it could be the sign of a delay or muscular issue.
Time to Teethe. While the actual appearance fo those pearly whites varies from baby to baby, most kids get their first tooth in between four and seven months. When she's teething, your happy tot might get fussy, so it's important to help relieve teething-related pain.
- Use a mesh feeder to allow your little one to feed herself and get relief from teething pain. A mesh feeder is a small tool with a mesh pocket and a plastic ring base. Pop frozen strawberries, peaches, or even a couple of ice cubes into the pocket, and your little one can suck away. She'll love tasting the flavor, and the cold helps to relieve her pain.
- Allow your babe opportunities to chew and gnaw. The edge of a wash cloth, dipped in apple juice and frozen is ideal, but board books, teething toys, blankies, and even your fingers can definitely help to soothe away pain.
Sleeps Longer Stretches. By 7 months of age, you should have nailed down your baby's sleep schedule. If you're still struggling, you can try some gentle sleep training to help regulate a more predictable routine.
- Cut back on nighttime feedings. Family therapist and parenting expert, Dr. Fran Walfish, explains how to wean your baby off of night feedings. "Step one is to no longer feed milk in the middle of the night. When your baby awakes crying in the middle of the night offer water, but no food." She then points out that nurturing a nighttime feeding habit can create an habitual eater who isn't necessarily hungry, but craves the comfort of the breast or bottle.
- Offer comfort and a sippy cup of water when your baby wakes in the middle of the night, but don't take her out of her crib. Unless there's something distressing her (like a dirty diaper) she's crying because she wants attention or she's dealing with separation anxiety. She needs to know you're there, but also that she'll be staying in her crib at night.
The seventh month brings about tons of changes for your little one, but don't worry; they're all positive. As your baby develops her strengths, you develop your skills as a parent, trading in uninterrupted nights of sleep and spontaneous plans for a gummy grin and nighttime snuggles. Worth it? Oh yeah.