Seven months ago, you arrived home with a weird little house guest and set out trying to keep it alive. By the half-year mark, you were probably starting to feel a little confident—cocky even. You figured out the most practical stuff and even understood a fair amount of what the little critter wanted, despite the fact that it came with no owner’s manual. But now it’s all changing again, with a crawling (or soon-to-be!), babbling little creature who is no longer content to lay sleepily in your arms or focus on your boob while it drinks. And dammit, it may even be starting to bite. Welcome to the second half of the first year.
7-month-old development & milestones
Benefits of babbling
It’s not just noise; studies show that babbling is good for infants’ brains. Babies build vocabulary based on how much their parents talk to them, but they advance even further when they’re given space to babble back. Talk to your baby whenever you can, narrate your day and then pause and give them a chance to contribute to the conversation.
Biting and breastfeeding
It’s a painful truth that many babies, particularly those with new teeth, bite the boob that feeds them—but often only once. After months of blissful (or boring) breastfeeding, your baby will clamp down out of nowhere during a feeding. Mama will yell and jerk away, baby will start to cry, and both of you will be a little traumatized by the whole event. The negative reinforcement that comes as instinct may have ended biting for good, but there are also ways to prevent and discourage any nipping if it continues.
Sleep and feeding schedule for your six- to nine-month-old baby Whether your baby has been friendly or shy up until now, most babies will start to get more attached as they begin to figure out the world around them and realize that their favourite person in the world can disappear without warning. Separation anxiety can be one of the hardest phases of infancy for both of you as your baby gets more desperate and needy—just as solid foods and a sleep schedule seemed to promise a little more parental freedom. There’s no cure, but experts say that consistency helps. Come up with a parting phrase (“See you soon!”) and one for your return (“Here I am!”), and practise for trips to the bathroom to help your baby learn that their mama or papa will come back. Don’t be tempted to sneak out—your baby will get even more anxious if they fear missing your departure. Brace yourself because separation anxiety comes and goes several times before your tweenager is ready to roll their eyes when you lean in to kiss them goodbye. Here’s more advice about the infant stage of separation anxiety.
If your baby has a month—or three—of solids under their belt, they will probably be reducing their intake of breastmilk or formula and be more determined to feed themselves. If they aren’t enthusiastic about solids yet, it’s time to push a bit because they will find it easier to accept new foods, tastes and textures now than later in the first year. If they don’t like purées, offer soft finger foods, such as cheese, parboiled or grated veggies and soft baby crackers or breads, as well as chunks of ripe banana, avocado and scrambled eggs.
Your life after baby
Postpartum sex: Why it sometimes hurts It’s been months since you got the go-ahead to resume sex, but when you take sleep deprivation, add a dollop of postpartum body changes and months of having your best bits monopolized by your baby, it can result in a whole lot of loving not going on. Today’s Parent talked to social psychologist and sex-shop founder Veronica Kazoleas to see what couples can do to get their sexy back.
Chafing about chores?
If you’re resenting the heck out of your partner these days, you’re not alone. There’s nothing like a baby to highlight all the ways that household chores are unevenly distributed, and let’s not even mention who has more time to themselves these days. Even perfect partnerships typically take a turn for the worse when an infant is added to the mix.
Stuff no one tells you
Cleaning baby’s first teeth
Those first two teeth are adorable, like tiny white Chiclets in pink gummed perfection, but now you’ve got to clean them. Didn’t think you’d have to worry about dental hygiene so early in infancy? Think again. Ideally, they need to be cleaned twice a day with a soft brush or cloth, but it’s too early to worry about toothpaste. (Some dentists and hygienists even recommend wiping down your baby’s gums before their teeth come in to promote gum health and good habits.)
These necklaces have become all the rage in recent years, with advocates insisting that they’re a cure for teething pain. But there is no medical evidence that they work, and Health Canada is warning parents against using them. There are a few alternatives you might want to try.
Just for fun
When I almost kissed the nanny
A travelling husband, an exhausted mom with a little boy and the surprising sex appeal of the nanny who offered a helping hand. Shoshana Sperling tells the tantalizing story.