By 6 months, your baby will begin to learn that he can attract attention by expressing his needs, wants and interests. He has learned that when he cries, someone will come. He will explore with both his eyes and his hands. He will begin to show genuine affection toward his primary caregiver. You may notice that stranger anxiety is evident around 8 months, but it will pass.

Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of columns presenting an overview of child development. A specific age group will be targeted each week, ranging from newborn to 5 years. Nothing replaces contacting your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns, but the following may help you to identify and nurture specific developmental milestones.

So much growth occurs when a baby is 6 months to a year old.  

Cognitive development

By 6 months, your baby will begin to learn that he can attract attention by expressing his needs, wants and interests. He has learned that when he cries, someone will come. He will explore with both his eyes and his hands. He will begin to show genuine affection toward his primary caregiver. You may notice that stranger anxiety is evident around 8 months, but it will pass.

Your baby will start to develop the concept of object permanence, which means he can locate a partially hidden object, and will soon be able to find an object that you have hidden while he is watching. He uses simple gestures such as shaking his head for “no.” At this young age, your baby will begin to look at the correct picture in a book when it is named. He will start to respond to his name and will begin to investigate what happens when he repeatedly drops or bangs items.

By 10 months, he may visibly begin to express his moods, whether he is happy, sad, fearful or excited. By 12 months, your baby will explore your cupboards, dump and pick up objects, look for and find hidden toys, point to things he wants, learn to blow kisses, and “come to mommy.”

Physical development

Physical development is a big area of growth during these six months. Your baby can grasp quite well, and will hold and “let go” of objects, developing an understanding of cause and effect.

By around 8 months, your baby will self-feed with purpose and start to crawl. Your baby will sit up without support, pivot around on his stomach, transfer toys from one hand to the other, creep or pull himself along the floor, poke fingers into tiny holes, put on and take off lids, place and remove objects from containers, possibly climb to a height of 6 inches, and “cruise” along the furniture to gain balance for those first few steps. This is a critical time for safety-proofing. Your child’s life is in your hands, so never leave him unattended.

Language development

Your baby now deliberately vocalizes, both for practice and to watch your reaction. He will babble in long strings of syllables (dadada, mamama, gagaga). His cry will have a different, distinguishable pitch for various needs, such as hunger, hurt or fatigue. He babbles with inflections and uses exclamations, including “uh-oh!”

At around 9 months, you may note that your baby will echo sounds said to him, and may show increased receptive understanding of words such as “no-no.” Around 11 months, you will hear your baby experiment with his first words.

I introduced sign language to my first of three children when he was about 6 months old, and by about 11 months old, he was able to communicate that he wanted to take a bath or have a drink, through sound and gesture. Take time to read to your baby every day, to introduce new words and new pictures. Take a house tour each day and talk about what you are seeing and hearing. Go outside and ring the doorbell, let him push it, saying, “Ding-dong! Doorbell!” The more you talk to him, the more information he will obtain and process.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio. Send your child-rearing questions to Family Matters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources, along with links to all of her columns, at Diana Boggia’s website, www.yourperfectchild.com.