Your baby is now rolling over, starting to sit up, grabbing toys
and other interesting objects, and possibly even crawling.
While most of their energy now is spent developing motor skills,
babies this age also are honing all five senses, understanding and
anticipating more and more of what they see, hear, and feel.
As your baby's interaction with the environment increases,
you should notice a corresponding rise in visual awareness. By 6 or
7 months you may see your baby staring in concentration while
holding a toy or studying his or her own face in a mirror.
While still nearsighted, your baby sees much more than just a few
months ago, focuses without going cross-eyed, and distinguishes
colors at an adult level.
In keeping with their ability to move around, babies can track
even rapid motion with their eyes. Your baby can follow the course
of a rolling ball and probably can focus on watching the quick
movements of an older sibling playing nearby.
Your baby also will be practicing newly acquired hand-eye
coordination, so watch as your little one stares for a while
at an object, then slowly reaches out to get it.
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.
Don't forget that babies older than 6 months will start to pull
themselves up to a sitting position, so if you have a low-hanging
mobile over the crib or wall hangings within reach, remove them so
your baby doesn't get hurt.
Babies this age enjoy more complex designs and can
distinguish colors. Try reading books with 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.
Hearing is crucial to developing the ability to talk, and your
baby is just now beginning to understand the fundamentals of
communication. When younger, your baby understood your meaning
through the tone of your voice: soothing tones made your infant
stop crying, agitated tones meant something was wrong.
Now, your little one is beginning to pick out the
components of speech. Your baby can hear and understand the
different sounds you make and the way words form sentences. Babies
now respond to "no" and notice new sounds, like the
bark of a dog or the hum of a vacuum cleaner.
By the seventh month, babies should recognize and respond to
their own name. They also make more attempts to imitate sounds and
spend more time babbling. Make no mistake, these are your
baby's early attempts at speaking and should be encouraged as
much as possible.
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 in the months
Taste and Smell
Your doctor may suggest the addition of solid foods to your
baby's diet during this period. If so, select foods
carefully, introducing one new item at a time. This will help
you pinpoint any food allergies that may occur, and also discover
which tastes your baby likes best.
While humans innately enjoy sweet tastes best of all, you'll
want your baby to be open to vegetables and other not-so-sweet
tastes. Consider introducing sweeter vegetables like carrots or
sweet potatoes right after those initial days of baby cereal so
your baby won't protest that he or she would rather have
bananas or applesauce.
You may see your baby respond to the sight and smell of your own
dinner. Perhaps you can provide your baby with similar foods,
pureed to baby-food softness.
The opportunities for exercising your baby's sense of touch
at this age are endless, even during the course of a regular day.
Let your baby roll a while in the coarse grass of your yard. See if
your baby prefers to touch the silky trim of the baby blanket, or
feel the texture of a carpet. Labeling the textures - "This is
rough," "This is soft" - will help your baby learn
more about the world.
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
Should I Be Concerned?
Between 4 and 7 months, you should see a noticeable increase in
your baby's awareness of sights and sounds. Your baby should be
responding appropriately to more and more visual and audio
Ask your doctor to perform an eyesight assessment if your baby
doesn't seem to:
- recognize you by sight or know you're in the room until
he or she sees you
- be interested in looking at any new books, toys, or
- have good control of eye motion (although some crossing or
independent eye movement is still normal until 6 months)
An evaluation also may be necessary if you have a family history
of serious eye diseases or abnormalities.
Since hearing is such a crucial component of language
development, 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 by the end of the seventh
month, or shows no interest in babbling or having a
"conversation" with you, ask your doctor about getting a
Warning signs of vision or hearing problems to look for:
- one or both eyes turn in or out consistently
- fluid draining from one or both eyes or persistent
- extreme sensitivity to light
- 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 by 6 months
- does not babble or make a variety of sounds by 8 months, or
concentrates only on making vibrating sounds that are felt in the
throat rather than imitating sounds he or she can hear
Caught early, many vision and hearing problems can be treated
successfully, so be sure to report any concerns you have to your
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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