Babies this age are honing all five senses, understanding and learning more and more from what they see, hear, and feel.
What Can My Baby See?
Babies this age can see much farther away (several feet or more) than just a few months ago. They can usually focus without going cross-eyed and can tell the difference between different colors.
Your baby is becoming much more aware of the environment. He or she can now follow the course of a rolling ball and watch the quick movements of an older sibling playing nearby. You may see your baby staring in concentration while holding a toy or studying his or her own hands. Hand–eye coordination is improving, so watch as your little one stares for a while at an object, then slowly reaches out to get it.
Help improve your baby's sight skills with these tips:
If your baby has been looking at the same toys or crib mobile for several months, now is a good time to change the scenery. Around this time most babies start to pull themselves up to a sitting position, so if you have a mobile over the crib or wall hangings within reach, remove them so your baby doesn't get hurt.
Babies this age enjoy more complex patterns and color variations. Try reading bookswith large, brightly colored pictures to your baby, who will enjoy staring at the pages.
Stimulate your baby's vision with trips out into the world. Walks in the neighborhood, a trip to the supermarket, or an outing to the local zoo all provide wonderful opportunities for your baby to see new things.
What Can My Baby Hear?
Hearing is crucial to developing the ability to talk, and now your baby is picking out the parts of speech.
When younger, your baby understood your meaning through the tone of your voice: soothing tones made your baby stop crying, agitated tones meant something was wrong. Now, your baby can hear and pick up on the different sounds you make and the way words form sentences. In the next few months, your baby will respond to "no" and recognize and respond to his or her own name.
Babies this age also are cooing and may start to babble and make more attempts to imitate sounds. Make no mistake, these are your baby's early attempts at speaking and should be encouraged as much as possible. So repeat sounds you hear your baby making and introduce simple words that apply to everyday life. Have "conversations" with your baby and wait for a pause in the babble to "answer." The give-and-take of these early discussions sets the stage for your baby's first real words.
Most babies have had some solid foods by 7 months of age. Continue to introduce one new item at a time and wait several days before trying something else new. This will help you pinpoint any food allergies that may occur, and also discover which tastes your baby likes best.
While babies naturally favor sweet tastes, you'll want your baby to be exposed to a variety of foods. It may take several tries before your child starts to enjoy a new food, so don't give up after the first or second attempt if he or she doesn't seem to like it.
Why Is Touch Important?
The opportunities for exercising your baby's sense of touch at this age are endless, even during the course of a regular day. Your baby will enjoy toys and books with different textures. See if your baby likes to touch the silky trim of the baby blanket, or feel the texture of a carpet. Let him or her safely explore surroundings.
Don't forget how important the feel of a gentle caress or a tender kiss is, and hold your baby when you are able. This kind of touching shows your baby that he or she is safe, secure, and loved.
If You're Worried
Compared with the first few months of life, you should see a noticeable increase in your baby's awareness of sights and sounds. Your baby should be responding to more and more sights and sounds.
Talk to your doctor if your baby doesn't seem to:
recognize you by sight
be interested in looking at any new books, toys, or pictures
have good control of eye motion, or one or both eyes turn in or out consistently (although some crossing is still normal)
Also speak to your doctor if you notice persistent tearing or extreme sensitivity to light. An evaluation also may be necessary if you have a family history of eye diseases or vision problems.
You'll also want to discuss with your doctor any concerns you have about your baby's hearing. If your baby doesn't seem to imitate simple sounds, or shows no interest in babbling or having a "conversation" with you, ask your doctor about getting a hearing evaluation. Warning signs of hearing problems to look for include:
no response to sound (for example, doesn't turn in direction of loud noise)
response to only some sounds, not all (some children can hear certain pitches, some hear in only one ear)
does not laugh out loud
does not babble or make a variety of sounds by 8 months
When caught early, many vision and hearing problems can be treated successfully, so be sure to report any concerns you have to your doctor immediately.