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Babies from 8 to 12 months

There they go! Once they can move, babies take off to explore everything in their environment.

With a crawl, a slither and a scoot, they're off. Babies from 8 to 12 months are on the move—exploring their surroundings and strengthening their muscles for walking.

It's time to batten down the hatches and childproof your home so they can explore safely.

Allow babies freedom to explore with your supervision, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Resist the temptation to do things for them all the time. Allow them to be challenged, but intervene when they get frustrated.

To help babies develop their skills, try the following activities from the AAP:

Get a move on

Encourage babies to crawl by placing interesting objects just beyond their reach. Create obstacle courses with cushions, pillows or boxes for them to crawl over and between, but be sure to supervise babies as they play. They can easily fall between pillows or under a box.

Open sesame

Babies love opening closed cabinets and drawers. Keeping one bottom drawer in the kitchen stocked with safe objects such as plastic food containers, lightweight pan lids or wooden spoons provides them with entertainment while you prepare a meal. Parents should be careful that babies don't shut their fingers in drawers and cupboards.

Get down and dirty

If you're going to be doing yard work, provide babies with a set of small, plastic gardening tools or utensils to play with while you work.

Stepping out

Babies are not satisfied with crawling for long. They soon want to stand and walk. They begin by pulling themselves up to a standing position every chance they get. They may walk a few steps holding your hands for support.

A sturdy wagon or push toy can help steady a new walker. Eventually, they'll totter for a few steps on their own before dropping to a sitting position.

What's happening?

Babies acquire new words rapidly during this time. They will begin to use "mama" and "dada" and name familiar toys and objects. Tell babies what is happening around them, especially when you are feeding, changing or bathing them. They comprehend far more than their speaking vocabulary shows.


By 10 months, you can hide toys under a blanket and babies will try to uncover them, a response they didn't have three months earlier. This is called "object permanence." Playing peekaboo with babies helps them learn that objects (and people) still exist when they can't see them.

Every day's a play day

Babies are fascinated with normal household items, such as wooden spoons, egg cartons and plastic containers. They like to explore different textures, shapes and sizes.

They start to use some toys to mimic adult behaviors, such as talking on a play phone, brushing their hair or scooping with a spoon. Appropriate toys for babies at this age are:

  • Stacking toys.
  • Cups, pails and other unbreakable containers.
  • Bath toys.
  • Squeeze toys.
  • Balls of various sizes (but not small enough to fit in the mouth).
  • Push-pull toys.
  • Large dolls and puppets.
  • Paper tubes, empty boxes, old magazines, egg cartons, empty plastic soda, juice or milk bottles (well rinsed).

Reviewed 5/1/2023

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