This is an interesting month, because just when you think you have your baby all worked out and their routine established, they are likely to do something which fills you with doubt. Your baby’s sleep routine may change, they may become more clingy, perhaps they won’t want to eat what they have loved previously or they just change in some small way.
Seven months is a kind of transitional age when your baby will have some mobility but not enough to really get into mischief. There will be times when they see a toy that they want, but can’t quite get to it themselves. This can lead to frustration and protests – the first of many in the years to follow. At 7 months your baby is really learning what it means to want something but not have the skills in obtaining it. Try not to be too quick to help your little one out. From challenges, skills grow and even though it can be very tempting to quickly satisfy their longings, this won’t support them in the long term.
Feeding and Sleeping
If your baby is breastfeeding, they may still be waking overnight for at least one feed. Once solid food is introduced at around 6 months, many babies start sleeping though the night. Sleep is a very individual state and every baby will have their own sleep needs and patterns. If you are keen to change some aspect of your baby’s sleep behaviour, think first about your own responses and if you always need to be with them to help them fall asleep.
Your baby will be eating a range of solid food by now, exploring tastes and textures, flavours and even different colours. Unless your baby has a proven food allergy or there is a diagnosed food allergy in your family, try not to be too hesitant in introducing new foods. Babies benefit from having a range of foods in their diet. But you may need to offer the same food a few times before your little one will accept a taste so be patient and stay calm.
Aim to role model healthy eating behaviours and avoid seeing your baby’s food intake as something which is under your direct control. Your job is to provide, prepare and serve their food; whether they eat it and how much they eat is entirely dependent on your baby.
Your baby may protest a little now when they are going down for their sleeps. At seven months, babies can be loud and noisy, making it clear to anyone close by when they are not happy. Use your voice to soothe your baby, your facial expressions to reassure them and cuddles when they are feeling unsure.
Try not to see your baby’s behaviour as being deliberately challenging. Babies are incapable of forming intentional thoughts which are designed to make their parent’s lives hard. Your baby is still learning and there will be times when they don’t even know what they want themselves. Never hesitate to ask someone for help if you are struggling. The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child has some semblance of truth. Parents are not meant to raise their children in isolation and we all need some help, some of the time.
Seven months is a lovely age, full of wonder and exploration. Although your baby still won’t be crawling, they will be able to manouveure themselves into all sorts of positions when you place them on the floor. Try not to limit their mobility by leaving them in their cot or pram for long periods.
This month your baby is well on the way to learning how to sit without too much support. You’ll need to watch them though because they’ll still be learning what’s involved in balancing and maintaining a steady position. If your baby still isn’t showing too much interest, don’t be concerned. Many babies don’t becoming proficient at sitting until after they have learned to crawl.
Seven months is an important age for babies because by now, they have become very familiar with their primary caregivers. They are developing social and emotional skills in learning who they can trust and who can best meet their needs. If you find your baby just wants to be held and cuddled by you, isn’t too interested in getting to know new people and cries when you aren’t in sight, try not to see these as irritations. Instead, be reassured that you have done a good job in supporting your baby’s sense of security. They love you and want you to be near.
Your baby will be responding readily to a friendly voice now, turning their head in the direction of sound and be able to talk and chat to themselves. Play peek-a-boo with your baby this month and make sure you read to them and show them books every day.
Your baby is likely to have more than doubled their birth weight by now. You’ll see their head, length and body shape changing as they become more like a compact little person. Seven month old babies are easier to hold; they can support their own head well and can sit on a parent’s hip without needing too much support other than under their bottom of course.
You may need to dress your baby in the next clothing size as you find their legs are getting longer. Girls are often longer in the legs than boys at this age, but individual factors play such a strong influence that there is no one way for babies to appear.
No immunisations this month so unless your baby is sick, you won’t need to see a doctor. Remember to wash your baby’s hands before they eat if they have been playing on the floor. Sensible hygiene precautions are important but try not to become too concerned about maintaining an ultra clean environment for them. Their immune system is designed to deal with fighting infection and needs to be exposed to a range of microorganisms to work effectively.
Play and Interaction
Discover your own inner child as you play and interact with your baby. They won’t be critical of your attempts and will only thrive on the attention and pleasure you bring to your play sessions. Try to match your body language with the words you use when you talk with them. Speech and language are learned through linking actions with sounds and it is through many hours of communication that babies learn what is involved. Try not to insulate your baby’s world too much or limit their experiences. As long as they are safe and loved they will only benefit from being exposed to noise, colour, games and movement.
Look for toys which make a noise and which your baby can interact with in some way. At 7 months the concept of cause and effect is developing and your baby will enjoy learning how they can influence change and movement in their toys.
When you are playing with your baby watch them as they look for something they may have dropped. They are learning about an important concept this month known as object permanence. No longer will they subscribe to the “out of sight out of mind” philosophy. Try hiding their favourite toy under the corner of a blanket and watch them as they seek it out.
What About Mum?
This is the time for a little more payback for all your hard work. When babies are 7 months, there is a lot of joy to be had for mothers and even though you are still likely to be feeling tired, the bone weary exhaustion to the first few months should be decreasing. Your baby will be more portable now, more predictable and a little more regular with their feeding and sleeping routine. This means you will be able to plan for outings and have some windows of time when your baby won’t need as much attention.
If your moods have been unstable, more sleep will help. If however, you still aren’t enjoying motherhood as much as you feel you should, see a health professional. Hormonal fluctuations in the first few months account for a lot, but at 7 months it is fair to expect to feel on a more even keel with every day emotions.
Think about how you feel towards your baby and if you are as deeply attached as you would like to be. It can take time to fall in love with our babies and by 7 months there has generally been enough time and exposure for this to have happened.
Your Sleep Needs:
You may look back on the time since your baby’s birth and wonder how you coped with so little sleep. If you are still tired in the afternoons, have a rest and give yourself a break. Make sure you are eating well and not snacking. Your energy levels are directly influenced by your dietary intake and if you aren’t eating good, quality food, you will not be able to get through the day without struggling. Occasional treats are fine, but make a point of investing as much time and energy into feeding yourself as you do your baby.
Try not to keep your baby all to yourself and share them with your family. Babies can often unite families which have for all sorts of reasons, become separated from each other. Although you may not always agree with the recommendations of your older relatives, try to accept them with good grace. If your parents or your parents in law are minding your baby, try to look at the big picture in terms of what you are all gaining. Babies benefit being exposed to diversity and often have something to teach us in terms of being flexible.