Your little baby is now 7 months old and he is really enjoying all the quality-time you have spent with him showing him just how fun interaction can be. You are absolutely his favourite person in the world! So, how is all this play time helping your little one and what progress can we expect to see at around 7 months old...
This is a crucial month for enhancing the development of communication skills through influencing the baby’s everyday environment. Lots of new nerve connections in the brain are happening right now, especially in the speech centres of the brain, and we can do lots to encourage this growth.
Your baby’s fascination with speech sounds has helped him to already be able to recognise the names of some familiar people and objects. You may notice him looking around for members of the family not present when their name is mentioned.
He will also be able to understand really familiar and everyday phrases that happen the same time each day, e.g. will wave back when parent says “bye bye” when leaving each morning for work. However, he will not be able to generalise this understanding to other situations, e.g. waving when leaving a friends unfamiliar house.
Your baby is much more able to understand the emotional tone of speech as opposed to what the words mean at this age. In fact, your baby is actually pretty good at this. He loves lots of things that have some melody to it, such as singing and music, and will smile and wiggle with delight.
Your baby can recognise his own name and will ‘answer back’ when you say it.
Your baby is getting pretty good at communicating different things to you now, such as drawing attention to himself (or to other people or objects), greeting people, refusing things, asking for things, even commenting on and acknowledging things around him. Of course this is not all communicated via speech sounds, but by using more gestures, tugging, pulling, pushing and through facial expression.
He is getting pretty good at controlling people around him. He knows that when he makes a sound with his voice (babbling, shouting…), something will happen, e.g. someone will come - therefore, you will probably find him doing a lot of this! The start of more ‘intentional’ communication directed at another person.
Not only will he purposefully babble to get someone's attention, he will also start babbling to other babies. In fact, he is becoming quite the little social butterfly and enjoys little sound making ‘conversations’ with other babies.
Your baby’s awareness of social interactions are developing and he may start to relate playing with certain toys or games with certain people, e.g. that his auntie loves playing ‘peek-a-boo’. The more shared-focus of attention between you and your baby, the better...this is a vital step in language development.
Your baby is starting to notice that he has the ability to do different things with his lips and tongue to make different sounds, e.g. smacking your lips together makes a ‘p-p-p’ sound. You will notice that your baby will start to make more of the specific speech sounds of the language he is hearing around him, and fade-out the sounds that are not speech related. Other non-speech sounds become less important and distinguishable in the environment, whereas he maintains his accurate ability to discriminate between subtle differences in speech sounds.
Your baby is now much more aware of the sounds he is making. He will start making a smaller number of sounds, but will use these sounds much more frequently. Repetition of strings of sounds is now more apparent, e.g. “mamamama”, “bababa”. Your baby will now start to use more than one syllable and may even start to combine a string of two different sounds, e.g. “bedebedebede”. The rhythm and tune of babble is now sounding much more speech-like.
Your baby is starting to name some very familiar objects by using the same sounds for that object. It is likely that your baby’s attempt at naming the object may sound nothing like it yet...but consistency of sounds used is a good starting point! Recognising that sounds can refer to specific objects/activities is an important milestone for your baby.
Attention and listening skills
Your baby’s attention skills are improving but they are mostly still only able to focus on one sensory input at a time, e.g. if you give your baby an interesting object, he will need time to explore it first before he is able to look or listen to anything you say. He will, however, be able to focus on an object or an activity for a bit longer before being distracted by something else. This is great because it shows that his attention span, and vital memory skills, are developing.
Listening skills are also improving at this age. Your baby is still not yet able to find where a sound is coming from straight away (has to look around first), but he can find the sound quicker, even sounds that are now coming from above his head.
As mentioned, your 7 month old baby is starting to discriminate and differentiate between all different sounds in speech and understand what some words mean. This is such a critical time for babies listening skill development and the effects on speech and language development.
It is important to remember that; the focus of attention should always be on what your baby chooses, he is not overly involved with either listening or looking, what he is looking at and listening to is the same thing, and the environment is as distraction-free as possible.
Your baby can now take his weight on his feet when held upright, and can keep his head steady and back straight when sitting.
His movements are also getting much stronger on the floor. He can now roll over from his back to his tummy!
He is also getting better at repositioning his body to see something better, and will attempt to reach and grasp objects just out of reach. If he is lucky to get them, he can transfer the object from one hand to the other, or bang two objects together. If he cannot reach, then he is still able to imitate banging by using his hand on the table instead.
As well as motor and communication skills, your baby is also getting pretty clever. He can understand some of the properties of partially obstructed objects, e.g. he will know that a soft object would be squished by a rotating screen, but a hard one would not...incredible!
It is worth noting here that, in order for your baby to master these wonderful achievements in different areas of their development (e.g. motor skills, communication skills), it is likely that all their energy and focus will be on one achievement at a time. For example, a baby who may already be starting to crawl may not be as interested in communication for a time. However, there are still lots of things we can do to help your baby keep up with their communication development at the same time.
Remember, every child is different and their development progresses at slightly different rates. As mentioned above, it is often the case that when progress is seen in one area, this can result in a temporary delay in another. The developmental stages described above are averages only and need not be a cause for concern if your child does not meet each average milestone exactly on time. There is quite a bit of flexibility to be found, however, there are some factors to consider that would require you to seek further advice and support.
Is your baby already 8 months old? I hope you are loving every second of this journey with your little bundle of joy. Find out what your baby may be doing on their 8 month birthday here (coming soon).
Your Speech Therapist,
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