Your baby has now realised that there’s a world out there and he wants to explore it. This, combined with his limited mobility, can lead to some frustration. You’ll notice that he’s getting progressively stronger. As before, he’ll constantly explore you face and will put his fingers into your nose and mouth. He’ll also try to get around, by crawling, rolling or walking on his bottom.
It takes some time before babies realise that you exist even when you don’t see them, so they’ll cry if they see you leave the room. They also benefit from being played with, cuddled and spoken to. The more you talk to your child in these first few months, the easier it’ll be for them to learn to talk later.
Now’s also the right time to give him blocks to mess around with. You’re learning to read his body language now, although at this stage it’s fairly easy to tell whether the kid wants to play or not. By now you’re finding it impossible to get “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” out of your mind, but keep going with the nursery rhymes and songs. They’re good for building the baby’s powers of retention off by heart – that’s memory for us earth-bound mortals. The same applies to those endless games of peek-a-boo.
Remember that your baby will take his cues from you. If your tone of voice is harsh or aggressive he’ll become anxious or even start to cry.
What you’re feeling
By now you have actually had a few nights’ sleep – or maybe not. Some babies sleep through from around six months, while others wake up regularly until they’re five. Theories on how to make them sleep through abound, but it really depends on the child and the parents.
Apart from the matter of chronic exhaustion, you’re probably setting into some routine. You’re both closer to accepting that your world has changed forever and are adjusting your life accordingly.
What she’s feeling
Your partner’s likely to be getting back into shape and may be preparing to return to work. This is cause plenty of anxiety for both of you – to many, the idea that you’d leave your infant in the care of strangers is appalling at this stage.
What to do
Find time for yourselves and each other. Harness willing grandparents and other relatives to look after your baby while you go out for a meal. Even going to gym together can be beneficial. You’ll also need time away from each other.
Set one evening aside each week to eat together. Lay up some good wine, lose the TV and do some communicating. You might find it productive to draw up a weekly to-do list. Your baby is likely to benefit from ongoing exposure to music. Not all doctors agree that it stimulates intellect, but it can’t do any harm. Baroque music is best – try Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Purcell, Pachelbel or Scarlatti.
Pick a hand: With your baby watching you, hold a small toy in on hand, then close both hands. When you ask him to choose, slather on the praise if he chooses the correct hand.
Crumple zone: Give him a sheet of paper and let him crumple it up and toss it around.
Hide it: Hide one of his favourite toys under a blanket or duvet and exclaim in surprise when he finds it.
Take a knock: Give him a metal pot or a plastic container and a wooden spoon and lry him thump on it.
Pack, unpack, pack, unpack: Babies love unpacking things and kitchens can be places of wonder and learning. Fill a five-litre ice-cream container with measuring spoons, empty plastic bottles and toys. Encourage him to pack and unpack the box.
Get down: Show your baby how to crawl by crawling with him.
Get lost: Once your baby is mobile, hide from him and let him find you.
Block the way: Stack some cushions in your baby’s way so that he has to climb over them.
Get rolling: Roll a ball to your baby across the floor. Encourage him to roll it back.
Read a story: If you haven’t started reading to your baby yet, do so now. While you do, let him cuddle with a stuffed animal or blanket.
Light up: Give him a pocket torch to shine around the room so he can comfort himself while he drifts off to sleep.
Make up a photo album of family pictures, as well as pictures cut from magazines. Tell your baby what he’s seeing. He’ll soon start to identify images with sounds.