Thursday, October 15, 2009

Infant Development from 6 to 7 months: New Wonders, New Skills, and New Fears

By six months, babies have become more predictable and are sleeping longer stretches, making caring for them much easier for their beleaguered parents. With more control over their own bodies, 6-month-olds become eager to explore their worlds and practice their ever expanding motor skills, sometimes finding themselves frustrated and a little fussy. Despite the ups and downs, many parents find this age to be one of their favorites.

Social Development

Babies who are 6 to 7 months old are highly social and interactive with those they find familiar. They will squeal and smile, flirt and flail their arms and legs, hoping for a joyful response and approval from their parents. Sometimes the squeals will turn to shrieks if babies are not given the attention they crave. Now, before you start thinking that responding to your baby will spoil him, imagine how it would feel to suddenly realize that you have the power to communicate with those you love (like figuring out Skype for the first time). Wouldn’t you want to tell them how much you cared and how much you wanted to be with them? And wouldn’t you “turn up the volume” if you thought that they couldn’t hear you? That’s all that your baby is trying to do.

Interestingly, babies at this age also become wary of strangers, recognizing that some of the faces that they see are unfamiliar. While unfamiliar faces were of interest in the past, they now are a little unnerving. Around this time, you’ll want to take introductions a little slower, no more passing the baby from adult to adult as you did when she was younger. Let baby take her own time to get to know new people. If you are patient, you'll find that she is happy to accept new relationships that are not forced on her too quickly. By the second half of the first year, babies start to figure out that they want to stay closest to their parents and those they see each day. Separations that used to be easy are now a little rocky and may be filled with tears.

Cognitive Development

Along with their new found social skills, 6-month-olds become little scientists, experimenting with the world around them as much as possible. While it is controversial when “object permanence” emerges, many babies around this age will start to enjoy games where things apparently disappear then reappear. "Object permanence" refers to the understanding that objects that you can't see still exist. Very young babies will lose interest in things that are out of their sight and don't look for them. Older babies enjoy peek-a-boo and seeing objects that come out of hiding places, like an old-fashioned jack-in-the-box toy or a ball that rolls in one end of a tube and out the other. As they gain control over their arms and hands, babies explore objects with their fingers as well as their eyes and many will put everything they can into their mouths. Sucking on toys and tasting blankets become major pastimes. Obviously, care must be taken that only the right things end up getting investigated in this way. Building on earlier learning about “cause and effect,” 6- to 7-month-olds will start to vocalize in more consistent ways, hoping to get the same response. While using words is still to come, babies will babble using consonants and vowels, returning to sounds that seemed to get the desired response.

Physical Development

The rapid gains in motor skills over the last couple of months accelerate. As baby learns to sit for longer and longer periods without support, his hands become free for reaching and grasping toys in his reach, first with his whole hand and then with just his fingers. Moving forward becomes an important goal and babies will work hard to creep along on their bellies and eventually to pull themselves up on their hands and knees. Many babies find themselves crawling backward at first, often becoming a source of entertainment for older siblings. Practicing these new feats may be a 24-hour a day job and night waking may increase for a short time.

If you haven’t already completely baby-proofed, now is the time. Take it to a new level. Babies progress so quickly over the next few months, you should "proof" your house now as if your baby could stand and walk. It is vital that you make sure that baby can’t get hold of anything dangerous, because his instinct will be to poke, hold, and taste everything.

Next time: 8-10 months: Babies are learning to stand and may pull up on furniture; the view from the top is very exciting!


  1. It's so amazing watching babies at this stage in their development:) I love how you explained that babies my yell louder to get our attention little guy is at that stage right now! I'll use your well-pit explanation to inform people that he is not being rude, but that he just wants the attention of whoever he is trying to communicate with:)

  2. My 7 mnth old daughter is in this phase where she will yell. And it doesn't seem to just be yelling to hear her voice, its when she wants something. And if you do not respond, she gets louder and at times even shows an angered face. I am curious...Is this a negative behavior leaning towards fits or just her way of communicating? And how should I handle it. I feel if I respond to the yells, it is teaching her that yelling is appropriate to get things you want. But if I ignore her, how else is she going to communicate? A little confused.

  3. my bby is not yet sitting and crawling,,,she is very behave ,,,she stays only in one place,,i thnk her body is to heavy to sad because she can't do those things yet,,what is the problem? can you please hlp me people give me some few advise thanks

  4. My baby is at this stage and yells a lot at my babysitter's place. The babysitter just told me that she thinks that Wesley(my son) is jealous of other babies and been held too much. I am confused. I do not hold him much, he plays a lot on the floor. I guess I need to change the babysitter.

  5. my baby is sitting and moving along commando style, not yet crawling but i'm sure thats around the corner. she yells when she wants something and does a lot of squealing and enjoys it when we respond to her. she laughs easily and puts everything in her mouth, anything in hand goes straight to her mouth. lol. have to stand by her making sure what goes in to her mouth is what should. she's such a delight!..<3

  6. My baby is in the squealing phase, he loves smiling and shriecking to get my attention I always smile and respond by squealing back he finds this really funny and giggles. I think communication is the key, even if I sound like a wally.

  7. my baby is crawling & saying mama! he plays on the floor on a blanket with toys & loves it. he can pull himself up and stand..he gets the proudest look on his face. its adorable. ive been told by my doctor that he is advanced for his age. makes me proud.. hes a breastfeed lil guy..that will do the trick!

  8. My Baby is 51/2 months he can sit and he is crawlIng. I'm very happy for him :)

  9. Good job to all of yur babies