In eight short months, your baby has probably done some incredible things. They may already be sitting up on their own, enjoying solid foods, and looking downright adorable munching on their toes.

Despite your baby's tremendous accomplishments, you may still be wondering what developmental milestones they should be moving onto next.

Here's what you can expect from your baby's development at 8 months.

Emotional development

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Around 8 months of age, babies may start to develop "separation anxiety" when separated from their primary caregivers. The anxiety is a result of babies being able to differentiate themselves from their caregivers. It's a completely normal and necessary stage of development.

Prior to this age, babies don't really have a sense of object permanence, meaning they don't realize that objects or people are always around. As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains, this boils down to the fact that your baby is old enough to realize when you are not with them. They may be very upset by the fact until you’re reunited.

You may notice your baby starting to learn the concept of self when they look in the mirror and recognize themself. This stage is also responsible for the infamous clinginess, when it feels like your baby doesn't ever want to be anything but physically attached to you.

How long does separation anxiety last in babies?

This rather emotional stage your child has reached can last until 2 years old. But the good news is that it's also very short-lived when it happens. Most likely, when you leave your baby, even if they cry at being separated from you, they’ll be distracted very quickly once you're gone.

Contrary to what you may think, the AAP explains that babies who display intense separation anxiety actually have healthy relationships with their caregivers. A secure attachment translates into them feeling safe enough to express their emotions to you. That's a good thing.

In fact, babies that have extraordinarily close relationships with their caregivers may even move through the separation anxiety phase earlier than other babies.

Cognitive development

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At 8 months old, your baby will love exploring new items. It will appear like they are beyond excited to constantly move onto the next thing. Your baby's play at this age is actually how they are learning about the world, such as the classic cause and effect law.

You'll most likely see this when your baby never tires of seeing what happens when they throw their spoon off of their high chair. They’ll also display object permanence and search for objects that they once may have dismissed.

At this age, your baby might start to develop an insistence for a favorite object, like a beloved blanket.

Between 8 and 9 months, your baby will also develop the exciting milestone of more advanced language development.

For example, your baby will start to say "mamama," or "dadadada," and understand the word "no." Your baby may also gesture with their finger as part of a serious "conversation."

Physical development

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By 9 months, babies should be able to:

  • sit independently
  • start to stand while holding on to something (like the couch)
  • pull themselves up to a standing position.

Most babies will be crawling by this age. Between 8 and 9 months, your baby will be able to play "peekaboo" and can follow objects that fall with their eyes.

Babies at this age also are still exploring the world through the mouth, which means they will constantly be putting things in their mouth.

Your baby should also be starting to self-feed with simple foods, picking up a snack between their finger and thumb.

Next steps

Overall, it's important to remember that every baby develops differently. Some babies will have special needs that may affect developmental milestones. Milestone markers aren't meant to cause you concern as a parent, but to be a helpful guide to help you gauge your baby's development.

If there’s a potential problem, early intervention can help you identify and treat any special needs your baby may have. Talk to your pediatrician about any concerns.

Q:

How can I tell if my baby is developing on pace for their age?

A:

Each baby develops differently, but let your pediatrician know if you have any specific concerns about your baby’s behavior. Your pediatrician may have you fill out a questionnaire asking about activities that your baby may do to gain further information. Make sure to mention if you’re worried about your baby’s vision, hearing, if you notice they don’t make sounds at all, or if they are unable to sit with support, or support some of their weight when standing with assistance. 

Katie Mena, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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