Your Baby's Growth: 8 Months
Babies this age continue to grow — in size, physical skills, and how they interact with the world. Your baby probably has started eating solid foods like pureéd baby food and baby cereal. This is an exciting (and messy!) time as your baby learns to eat. But most of your baby’s nutrition will still come from breast milk or formula.
How Much Will My Baby Grow?
Babies continue to gain about 1 to 1¼ pounds (450–560 grams) and ½ inch to ¾ inch (1–2 centimeters) in length this month. But it’s also OK if your baby grows a little more or a little less.
How Is My Baby’s Growth Checked?
Since your baby's birth, the health care provider has recorded your little one's growth in weight, length, and head size (circumference) during your baby’s checkups. By now, you should begin to see a growth curve that shows your baby growing steadily.
Babies who were born early might still be behind in size compared with their full-term peers, but they should also be growing steadily at their own rate.
What Happens if My Baby’s Growth Is Slow?
Is my baby big enough? Is my child going to be tall or short? Parents might worry about growth or compare a baby with siblings and peers. It's important to remember that kids come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The growth curve they're on now won’t necessarily be the growth curve they stay on.
Growth depends on many things, including:
- genes passed on by the parents (kids tend to resemble their parents in height)
- the amount and type of food a child eats
- overall health
- how well the hormones that control growth work
- whether a child has any medical conditions
Based on your child's growth chart, the health care provider can see if your baby is growing as expected. If you think growth has slowed or your baby's had a drop in weight, the doctor may ask:
- How much breast milk or formula are you giving your baby? Have they switched from a bottle to a cup? Sometimes parents don’t realize that a baby is drinking less breast milk or formula than before.
- Has your baby been sick? A couple days of not eating, especially if combined with vomiting or diarrhea, can lead to weight loss. The weight will come back when your little one feels better.
- Is your baby on the move? Crawling will burn calories, so weight gain might be less with this new mobility.
- Is your baby more interested in playing peek-a-boo or dropping the spoon on the floor than eating? The world is a fascinating place, and your baby is learning new things every day. Try not to distract your baby during mealtime. Also watch for signs that your little one has eaten enough.
They'll also ask about your baby's health, development, and any illnesses that run in your family, and do an exam. All these things together will help the doctor decide if your baby is growing at the right rate. If needed, they may recommend that you take your baby for tests.
Could My Baby Gain Too Much Weight?
The doctor is tracking your baby’s growth and can tell you if your baby needs to slow down with weight gain. This usually doesn’t happen, but overfeeding a baby or giving extra calories through juice can sometimes make a baby gain too much weight.
Never withhold food or use watered-down formula to try to slow weight gain. Your baby needs proper nutrition, including fat, to grow and develop.
One of the best things you can do for your baby is to eat well and be physically active yourself. Your baby has a better chance of growing up fit if healthy habits are part of the family's way of life. You'll be a good role model — and have the energy to keep up with your little one.
Here are some healthy habits for your baby:
- Make sure your baby's calories come from nutritious sources — like fruits, vegetables, and fortified cereals. Breast milk or formula should still be the main source of nourishment in the first year of life.
- Stop a feeding when your baby seems satisfied. As long as your baby doesn't have trouble gaining weight, you don’t need to “top off” a feeding with a few extra minutes on the breast or more formula.
- Do not give your baby juice. It adds extra calories without the balanced nutrition in formula and breast milk. Drinking too much juice also may lead to excess weight and tooth decay, or cause diarrhea in infants and toddlers.
- Feed your baby when they seem hungry. But be aware that sometimes when your baby fusses or cries, it's not a sign of hunger. They might just want to play or be with you.
- Talk to the health care provider about which solid foods to give and how much. Watch for your baby’s cues that they've had enough (such as acting disinterested, turning their head away, or holding their mouth closed).
- Do not put cereal in the bottle (unless the health care provider told you to). It can cause rapid weight gain.
- Play with your baby and encourage physical activity. Limit the amount of time your baby spends in car seats, strollers, and playpens.
- TV, videos, and other types of screen time aren't recommended for babies this young. Video chatting is OK.
When Will My Baby’s Growth Be Checked Next?
Unless your baby needs to come in sooner, the doctor will see your baby and check growth at the 9-month checkup. For the rest of this year and next year, expect your baby's growth to slow down. As your little one becomes more and more active, they may thin out a little. But as long as they grow at a steady rate, there is no reason to worry.
Call the doctor if you have any concerns about your baby’s growth or health.