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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Tuesday, March 17

Luck O' the Irish

Mac is 8 months old today. Some months drag by but his 7th month flew by. I know he will be one year old before I know it. Here are some "normal" baby milestones you can expect a child to achieve by the time he’s 8 months old and my comments on how Mac measures up.

Motor Skills

Eight-month-olds are gaining a lot of new strength. They may be strong enough to pull themselves up to a standing position while holding onto a chair or sofa. (Mac doesn't pull himself up but does stand with only a little assistance) In another month or two, they should start cruising around using the furniture for support.

Most babies are starting to crawl by now, but don’t be panicked if your 8-month-old isn’t there yet. Some babies take a few extra months to get moving, and a few go straight from rolling to walking without slowing down to crawl. (Okay, Mac isn't even THINKING about crawling nor is he rolling over...good thing since I STILL haven't gotten a gate for the stairs!)

At this age, your baby is figuring out how to pair up his motor skills with his senses. Babies this age typically can spot a toy from across the room, figure out they want it, crawl over to get it, and pick it up. They can also manipulate toys with relative ease, banging blocks together, tossing a ball, or fitting a series of different-sized cups into one another. (I don't think Mac is doing most of that. He can manipulate toys to wave them or bang them.)

The pincer grasp - using thumb and finger -- is now well enough developed for babies to pick up very small objects. Because almost everything your baby picks up will end up in her mouth, be sure to put away any small toy pieces or other objects that are lying around. Keep in mind that if something is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper tube, it’s small enough to choke your child. If your child has siblings older than 3 years, it is a good idea to keep separate play areas and remind that child of the toilet paper tube rule. (Other than his fingers, he doesn't put things in his mouth...yet at least! He CAN do the pincer grasp but I think it is an accident most of the time when he does!)

Sleep

By their eighth month, most babies sleep an average of 13 to 14 hours a day. They’ll take two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Naps average about an hour in length, but some babies can get by with a couple of 20-minute naps. (Hmmm...on a good night, Mac sleeps from about 8pm to 7am with one feeding around 4am. He takes a nap around 9am, 1pm and 5pm, but we are trying to phase out the third nap, as it messes with bedtime.)

Now that your baby has a sense of object permanence -- the knowledge that you still exist even when you’re not around -- bedtimes and nap times may be more of a struggle. This separation anxiety should go away by the time your child is around 2 years old. Don’t be too worried if your baby fusses every time you try to leave the room. The crying shouldn't last for more than a few minutes. Be consistent in your routine and that will help both you and baby adjust. (Gee, thanks...it will get better in a YEAR AND A HALF! LOL We were having a lot of problems with this because I was trying to phase out the swaddle as well. Jim, in desperation one night, swaddled him and he fell asleep immediately. I guess we'll continue to swaddle for a while. Although the last few nights, he's gotten both arms out of the swaddle, so maybe he will phase it out himself! I think I'm also going to get a crib soother to see if that helps calm him down.)

Eating

Your 8-month-old will still be taking 24 to 32 ounces of formula or breast milk every day. But mealtimes should also involve an increasing variety of foods, including baby cereal, fruits and vegetables, and mashed or pureed meats. As the solids increase, the breast milk or formula will decrease.  Some babies at this age are so fascinated by table foods that they are less interested in feeding from the bottle or breast. But they still need about 16-20 ounces of  breast milk or formula until they are ready to switch to cow’s milk after their first birthday. (We are doing better about giving him solids, but have only done veggies and a couple fruits. He LOVES bananas and sweet potatoes. If it is anything else, he still prefers to be breastfed rather than eating. I'm sure that will change as he gets older and gets used to more foods. He breast feeds between 5 and 6 times per day.)

Your baby’s pincer grasp and chewing skills should be developed enough by now for you to consider adding finger foods into the mealtime mix. The best first finger foods are bananas, toast, pasta, well-cooked meat, and cereal. Cut foods into bite-sized pieces, and avoid serving any items that are choking hazards, such as hot dogs, raw carrots, popcorn, grapes, blueberries, and raisins. No matter how finely finger foods are chopped, NEVER leave your baby unattended during mealtimes. (I found some puffs at Target that were approved for 7 month olds, so we've been experimenting with those. He likes them, but has a hard time getting them into his mouth...although why would he have to try with two Bigs just giving them to him when he whines! A few weeks ago, I tried cereal, but he wasn't ready for it.)

Communication

Your baby is developing a stronger sense of self and a greater awareness of his surroundings. Eight-month-olds understand the idea of object permanence and are starting to anticipate daily routines -- when I’m in the crib it’s bedtime; when I sit in the high chair it’s mealtime. They also realize the relationship between cause and effect -- when I drop this napkin, Mommy picks it up. (I use the high chair as a holding pen, so that might be messing with him eating food. I just saw him drop things this morning and then look at me like, 'aren't you going to get that?'. So funny!

At this age your baby is starting to realize what he likes and dislikes, which is why you might see a scowl when you offer the strained broccoli, and a smile when you switch to sweet potatoes. (He has NO problem letting us know what he does and doesn't like!)

At eight months, the babbles you've been hearing for a while may start to make sense. Mixed in with the “ba-bas” and “ga-gas” you might hear a “ma-ma” and “da-da” aimed in your direction. Your baby can now understand the meaning of a few basic words, including “bye-bye” and “milk,” and can follow simple commands such as, “Say hi to Grandma,” or “Wave bye-bye to Aunt Alice.” (He definitely understands "milk." I think he might understand that "mama" is me but I'm not positive. Other than that, none of that yet.

   
   
 

As far as these milestones, I can get a little discouraged when I see how much he isn't doing that other babies are. But I also need to remember that these are things that some babies do at the beginning of their 8th month and Mac was still three weeks early and I'm sure that affects some of this. When I look back at the 7 month milestones, he is doing almost all of them now and I guess that is probably a better judge of how he is developing.

Overall, Mac continues to be a happy, although an opinionated baby. If he doesn't want or like something, he will let you know. He likes to sit and play, especially if the Bigs are playing in the same vicinity. He rarely tips over when sitting any more, but when he does, he gets pissed about it. Still hasn't rolled from his back to his tummy nor shows any signs of crawling (as he'd have to be on his tummy for that). He LOVES to stand and tries to all the time. He also loves being in his jumper, as he loves to jump and bounce. Nicknames that have developed over the last couple months are Stinky, Chubbers and Crabbers...as you can see, they are very situational and evidence of his getting older. He is a GREAT car-rider and usually sleeps when we run our endless errands. I'm so thankful for that, as his big sister was NOT good in the car. He is super tickly, which I love. He still uses a pacifier but mainly if he is tired or for sleeping. Although, I think I rely on it more than he needs me to.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd share a little Irish history about MacKeegan's name. It was a surname established in County Tipperary in the 13th century in South-central Ireland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The family motto is "with fortitude (having courage through adversity) and prudence (being cautious)." While there are several spelling variations, McKeegan, is the most common. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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