As your baby grows and develops you may notice they display certain behaviours which you may find surprising. Knowing why your baby is displaying certain behaviours will help you be able to respond to them.

Many of your baby’s behaviours are related to their stage of development. The most effective way of managing the behaviours that you see for your baby at this age focus around offering your baby reassurance and distracting them. 

Babies learn by exploring objects, you'll notice your baby puts almost everything in their mouth. This could include food, toys, everyday objects, their hands, fingers and even their toes. 

Ensure their toys are age appropriate and don't have any small parts which could pose a risk to them. Keep small household items out of reach. This is a normal developmental phase which will pass as your baby gets older.

You may also notice your baby starting to touch their own genitals, particularly during a nappy change or during their bath. They do this as a way of learning and exploring their bodies in the same way they play with their hands and feet. 

Be reassured this is a normal developmental phase and the best way to manage this type of behaviour is by accepting that it's normal and distract them with a toy when you see them doing this. 

Your baby is developing their own personality and some of their behaviours will seem highly amusing to them. At times you may notice that your baby uses their behaviour to influence your behaviour.

Usually around this age you'll notice your baby may start to cough as a way of gaining your attention. As long as your baby is not unwell you can be assured this is another normal developmental phase that your baby will go through.

What is separation anxiety?

By the time your baby is around the age of 8 months they have learnt that you're a consistent feature in their life. It's usually around this time you'll notice your baby may become distressed and upset when they can't see you or you leave them with unfamiliar people. This is entirely normal and you may have heard it called separation anxiety. 

It's a normal developmental phase that a lot of babies go through and is reflective of the bond that your baby has with you and your baby will grow out of. However, there are certain things you can do which might help your baby adjust to you being away from them and help build up trust that you're going to return. 

  • Try leaving your baby for a few minutes initially whilst you go into another room. Offer your baby reassurance and let them know you're coming back to them. When you return to them, tell them where you've been and reassure them. 
  • Gradually start to increase the amount of time that you spend away from your baby. 
  • Try to leave your baby in a familiar environment with familiar people. If you're planning to leave your baby in child care, have a few practice runs before you need to leave them. 
  • Leave your baby with a familiar object which has your smell on it. 
  • Try not to let your baby’s behaviour upset you and try not to let your baby see you getting upset. 
  • Have a consistent goodbye routine and do the same things every time you leave your baby so they get used to you leaving them. 
  • Talk to your baby and tell them what's happening and that you'll be back later. 
  • As distressing as it is to see your baby upset and distressed when you leave them, try and avoid sneaking off without saying goodbye to them because this will confuse and distress your baby.

As your baby gets older they are able to start and understand cause and effect behaviours and be able to have some control over what they do. Therefore, this is an ideal opportunity to start to teach your baby the implications of their behaviour.

An ideal example of this is if your baby was to try and pick up a valuable ornament, they would be told no and then moved away. Repeating these actions with daily hazards is an ideal way to teach your baby and reinforce positive behaviours you want to see from them.