How Do You Get Anything Done with an 8 Month Old?

Updated on November 02, 2010
L.K. asks from Fargo, ND
30 answers

I'm a single mom and my baby is now crawling, and pulling herself up on absolutely everything. Which is great, except when I need to actually get something done like the dishes, or making supper...She will only tolerate being in her playpen for a few minutes at a time before she starts screaming, can wiggle out of her bouncy chairs and swing, and putting her in a baby carrier doesn't work when you're cooking or washing pots and knives! I can't seem to figure out how to do tasks where I need to get both my hands wet or dirty, since I have to stay within grabbing reach of her as she's falling down every 5 seconds! (Oh and we live in an open-concept space so I can't pen her into one small area!)
I'm getting really annoyed/hungry with not being able to make my own supper til she's in bed. Tips??

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU everyone for the suggestions, some of which are pretty funny too (I am def gonna try the duct tape thing). I am getting a high chair this week which hopefully will help (have made do with a Bumbo til now). I think it has been particularly stressing me out lately as she is teething and barely even napping for long, so that cuts out that time too that I'd normally have to get some stuff done.
It is nice to just hear some reassurances from other moms who have been through it. Thanks!

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answers from Evansville on

When my 2nd son was that age, he was into EVERYTHING and was always underfoot. When I would cook, I'd give him pots and pans, and if I had a free second I'd help him "play the drums" on them or give him one of his spoons so that he could cook too. I tried the highchair thing with my son and it didn't work so well. He didn't like to be confined to the chair unless it was time to eat.

I also found the crock pot to be a life saver. I would throw something in either in the morning or when he would take a morning nap, and then not worry about it for the rest of the day.

The cupboard was another trick that did wonders for us. I kept his cupboard empty and he would hide in it while we played "hide-and-seek" or "peek-a-boo" between washing dishes or while I was cooking. If he got ahold of towels or mixing bowls he would stash them in his cupboard, which he thought was great to "hide" them from Mommy.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

A walker? Maybe the highchair. The highchair was my best friend at that age! Throw on some cheerios and a suction toy and she was good for a while.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

most of the time i wait time my daughter is sleep before i try to do task that will take both of my hands. but if she's awake and i have to cook dinner or wash dishes I'll sit her in her high chair with a small snack facing me so that she can see me then I'll sing to her or give her a spoon to play with while I'm taking care of business. try a few different things you just need to keep her attention on something other than you for a few minutes.

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answers from Dallas on

Lets see, at that age my daughter would go in her playpen with toys and board books, highchair near me with toys or a snack or in her jumper. Honestly, baby has to be 'trained' to be good in the playpen, at that age they will really whine for you if they know it works! If you need to get something done, just put her in the playpen and when she starts whining, give her a new toy or two and walk away again. She will get it. A little playtime for a while by herself is fine, she just has not figured it out yet.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My girls are always under foot... it is life.
One thing I did (because we can't keep them out of the kitchen due to our layout) is to give them their own cupboard. I have tupperware, dish towels, spoons ect. They have so much fun.
I also from time to time pour dry oatmeal into a bowl and let them play. Sure they try and eat some, but it is oatmeal, so no worries there. Plus it is a learning tool to learn to scoop, stir, throw ect. Yah there is a mess to sweep up, but so what. It takes two seconds. If you want to avoid that mess then give her little snacks in a bowl, so not only is she playing but she is eating a bit as well. Food is always a good distraction!

However this doesn't always work to keep them out of my hair. Sometimes they are just underfoot and have to deal. I am careful not to move hot things or carry knives right next to them. At her age she can't reach up, so just make sure you are careful and take your time. I cook for the whole family and clean up many times a day. It isn't always fun or easy, but it gets done and we aren't eating after they all go down to bed.

As for her falling- it happens. That is how they learn. My girls fall all the time. That is life. One always seems to have a bump or bruise some place. They act more like boys in that regard :)

Just make sure she has stuff to do... You will figure it out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

put her in a highchair. w/ a bit of water on the tray, she will splash, and have a great time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Can you put her in her highchair and give her a finger food snack, or something to play with? I often let my son play with soapy water while I cook. Sure he gets drenched, as does the floor,but it is worh it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Babywearing. Get a sling or a nice baby backpack and when you cook, involve her in it. She'll look forward to cooking when she's older and you'll get nutritious foods into her and yourself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We have a large open area for the living/dining room. We rearranged the furniture so that we could use a large board to section off our office area. The high chair is also a great idea. If you don't mind using the tv for education/entertainment, it is a distraction for a short time while in the playpen. Sesame Street is my dd's favorite. She also loved country music videos on cmt. Hope this helps. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

All these answers consisted of 'locking the baby down' in a chair, or other device-ugh! They are discovering their legs!!! They want to move!!! Don't fight the system. Prep dinner ahead of time, do some creative food planning so that you can throw a lasagna in the oven, or baked chicken...and leave it. Play with your kid, the dishes can wait for a moment that is less inconvenient for both of you.
It does get better!!! This is a challenging age where they want to touch everything-it's all new.
So my advice is don't fight it to save yourself the frustration. If you need a break and don't want to pay for a sitter maybe do a baby swap with a mama friend where you take her kiddo for 2 hours and she takes yours, so you both get a break.
Some food ideas~cut up all your veggie for 3 days (peppers, onions, broccoli)-zip lock them, fresh/thawed chicken breasts-marinade differently. One day have stir-fry. Next have fajitas. Third have baked chicken with baked sweet potatoes. Cut once and have it all prepped to cook. Baby will love to explore eating baked sweet potato, avocados too if you have introduced this in their diet.
Hope that helps!



answers from St. Louis on

babies have to be taught these skills! She needs to learn how to self-soothe & how to entertain herself. The playpen is your best bet: give her some toys, make sure she can see you, & get some music going that you can sing with/to her! The highchair also works for this....& is a great time to offer finger foods for teaching self-feeding. Just be sure to use the seatbelt!

As for the bouncy & the swing, at 8 months, it's normal for the baby to be able to manuever out of them! At that point, I usually mourn the loss of them.

& for the crying: you are the mom, she is the child. You are in charge. You have to make her listen....& you have to make her understand that you do not dance to her tune! If you give in & hold her all the time, she will never learn coping skills. & then she'll be 4 & screaming her head off no matter where you are!! Time to step up to the plate & be in charge!

An easy way to do this is to sing softly or to talk to her softly. Do not raise your voice, do not try to cajole her. Just hold a soft conversation with her while you work & she'll get the picture! Good Luck!

EDIT: in my daycare, I have two 1y.o. boys. One is an explorer - into, under, on top, behind everything! The other is an investigator - he will play with the same toy forever! But what they have in common is that they know that I mean business & that they have to listen to me. It is amazing what they can do!



answers from Youngstown on

You have to give them new fun things to play with to keep them entertained. When you are doing dishes, put her on the floor by your feet with some tupperwear to play with. Or put her in her highchair with little bowls with some water in them. My daughter loved to pour water from one bowl to another at that age. Yes, it makes a mess, but water is easy to clean up. Or put some rice in measuring cups and let her pour the rice and play with it. Once again, yes it makes a mess but you can easily sweep it up. Dry beans is also another good one. Get an exersaucer, you can buy a used one on Craigslist or at a used kids store for pretty cheap. It is really hard at this age to get anything done, but its possible if you think outside the box and get creative. She just wants to explore her new world, so go with that and use it to keep her entertained for a few minutes. Good luck and enjoy your little girl :)


answers from Oklahoma City on

um...put her in a safe place that she can't get out of and let her cry....did that with my duaghter (7 now). will be hell on earth at first, if it gets too bad, turn the music on, maybe head set-so she can't hear you drowning her out, glance at her every now an then to make sure she's not getting into something but eventually she'll learn and YES she is old enough to learn she can't have mommy all the time



answers from Los Angeles on

UGH! i remember those u have a play station son is 4 can't remember what things are called sit them in it ..its a circle with a seat with lots of toys to play with..also little dvd's for her to watch while in it..i bought all educational Bee Smart Baby..and the signing ones..also the jumper thingie was good..u put that in a doorway or buy a free standing one..they love to jump around and it makes their legs stronger..i remember having to eat standing all the time...or while my son was in his high chair..i'd make myself food quickly or make food at night then save some and just heat it up the next day..
It does get easier..i also was a single i have a boyfriend..wish he had been there to help b/c he's so helpful now..
Also i joined a gym..Equinox..they have a little u can workout and leave your child in their daycare..
you get a little break when u do that..they have a steam room so i would take a couple classes..steam and then pick up my son and leave..was such a nice break..i still go but my son is in preschool i go when he's at school..some kind of daycare or help at least once a week should be something you may want to consider

i know its hard to think of leaving your baby with someone for even an hour but sometimes you just need that break..i also would eat when my son was napping..and am lucky i have a friend only used one bottle the whole time with her last that she didn't have a lot of cleaning to do..can u still wear her in the Bjorn or carrier? i wore my son all the time so i could just do things while carrying him around but i can't remember how long that was for.

good luck





answers from Los Angeles on

Set her on the floor of the kitchen with her own "kitchen stuff" (set her away from the stove and knivs of course). At that age my daghter had her own drawer near the bottom filled with random plastic cups and utensils. Then cut yourself a break in the kitchenand make food with less prep requirements and less dishes and utensils getting dirty. It's ok to eat grilled cheese and a pre-made salad for dinner :)



answers from Los Angeles on

My little guy is 10 months old and I put him in his high chair and give him Cheerios. This is the only time I will give them to him and so he looks forward to high chair time.


answers from Austin on

With my daughter, we used an exersaucer. I think it was the Baby Einstein one. It always held her attention. She also liked the jumperoo.



answers from San Diego on

you just can't get anything done. i feel for ya. i'm in the same boat. I can barely feed myself let alone actually do anything above and beyond that.
good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

I remember those days like it was yesterday and my son just turned 2 a few days ago. I was home alone for several months at a time when my husband had to travel for work. I often felt like a single mom and still do once in a while. My respects to you for being a single mom! Don't know how you women do it. I got myself a SuperYard XT playpen and it was awesome! It was a safe place to put the baby when I couldn't chase after him, or if I was way too tired and needed a break. You can climb in here with your baby and play or pass out until you get bonked on the head with a toy. :) The sling is good if your baby doesn't weigh a ton like my son did. Also the drawer with the plastics is good and I dusted off my CROCK POT and printed out some dishes off the internet and made myself food at night when baby was sleeping so I would have a real meal for the next few days. I only had to warm up my meal in the mirco and I was good to go. Fruit and protien smoothies were my life line and got me through plus they are good for you. Even though my son is 2yrs old I still use the baby playpen except it's used as a barrier so he doesn't crawl out through the doggy door or get to my computer and lots of other no nos. I was like you and almost never ate but you'll soon figure out ways to get things done and sometimes you just have to let things go and let the house get a tiny bit messy. That was the hardest thing for me to accept. Your baby needs your attention and they need the supervision. Good luck to you and hang in there! ;)



answers from Dallas on

High chair so they can watch can work - they're curious and want to be involved. my son liked that. I also had a carrier that I could wear on my back and used that sometimes. And the playpen thing - she's going to have to cry a bit - just re-assure her; let her know what you're doing "mommy's washing dishes and they're fragile so you have to say in your playpen and play so you can be safe and mommy can work, etc."


answers from Austin on

We had a backpack carrier that she loved.. She would stand on the rail under her feet and look over our shoulders..

The high chair.. I would give her small bits of food or toys. It had rollers so I could roll it to wherever I was..

Her walker.. She would just walk all over. Again I would give her toys for the tray..

The doorway jumper.. she loved it if I played music..



answers from Honolulu on

I ran into that same problem as a single mom. My solutions were to purchase take out (I know, not the best) or to place her in a carrier and carry her on my back until I was done with chores or sit her down to watch an educational video like a learning to sign video. And if she's watching a video I'd keep her in her high chair. When she wants to run around, I did my best to keep everything I didn't want her to touch out of her reach so she could roam safely. Best wishes to you!



answers from Johnstown on

Honestly, let her in her playpen or a high chair. If she screams, she screams. I know it gets frustrating at times, BUT she's going to have to learn sooner or later that she needs to let Mommy do something other than entertain her. Perhaps move the playpen close to where you are so you can still talk to her and reassure her that you're still there, yet far enough away so that you can still work. Remember, she's only 8 months old and she is to the point where separation anxiety is starting. It's best to get everything straightened out now. She's also to the age where she should be able to start finger-feeding herself in her high chair while you eat at a decent time. I'll be praying for you! GL



answers from Los Angeles on

I'm not a single mom, but my hubby travels a lot for work. My daughter figured out how to get out of her playpen at about nine months and was too long for the straps for her bouncy chair and swing at about six months (her daddy's really tall). As far as cooking, I prepped most meals ahead while she was napping on Saturday/Sunday afternoons so all I had to do was pop dinner in the oven or microwave. When I did work in the kitchen, I let her play in the kitchen with me. I either brought in some of her toys or put out some wooden spoons, bowls, etc with some water and let her "help". I removed all chemicals/glass/sharp objects from cabinets and drawers she could reach so she could explore.


answers from Santa Fe on

One thing I do to get some household stuff done is I strap my baby to my back with the ergo carrier. In the kitchen I filled a couple drawers with stuff she can play with AND the entire space below the sink has things she can play with (not toys necessarily but kitchen type things, containers, etc). I'll even let her play in the open fridge for a little bit if it gives me some time. Sometimes I stick her in the high chair in the kitchen and give her something messy to play with/practice eating. Or I will ball up duct tape and stick it on one of her hands. She will pull it off and then it will be stuck on her other hand. That keeps her busy for a little bit. Then I'll stick her in the baby activity center thing (one of those round things where the baby sits in the middle). Basically,I keep moving her around to try to keep her occupied. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Having a big friendly dog might help.
We always have animals. They give the kids unconditional
love and attention.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter was like that - needing lots of attention, and not willing to stay in her swing, bouncy seat, playpen, etc. I also had to get things done after she went to bed or before she woke up. Occasionally I'd hire a sitter to come for a couple of hours on the weekend to keep her entertained while I got major stuff done.
If your child is anything like mine - this situation will not end any time soon. I recommend buying pre-chopped veggies and frozen dinners, or making a big casserole or lasagna on the weekend and eating it all week, and ordering pizza when all else fails. Figure out some simple things you can eat quickly to tide you over until the real meal - a bowl of cereal, some yogurt, etc. Also, eat something healthy when she takes naps, or have a large breakfast before she gets up.
The good side - I had no trouble losing all of my pregnancy weight!
Good luck and hang in there!



answers from Los Angeles on

My son was only happy on the floor if he was banging on pots and pans and that only lasted a few minutes.
It is totally against every safety rule you'll ever see as a parent, but I put him up on the counter. From the time he was itty bitty in his bouncy seat until he was 6 years old, he sat on the counter next to me. I could talk to him, he was always within arms reach, he "helped" me cook or wash, it was awesome. I had a split sink so I would put him in one side with some toys and wash dishes or prepare veggies in the other.
It took twice as long to do things and keep him safe, but I did get things done. Figure out what works for you.


answers from Los Angeles on

Wear her! Get a sling and put her on your hip, steadied with the sling. I was able to get lots done with her in the sling. So much good luck to you!



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Hi L.,
I feel a little of your pain. I had two small children with out much help from my husband..he was in school fulltime while working full time too. I would strongly encourage you to put her in a playpen (I should have done that more with my first so I could get things done rather than staying up late to accomplish basic tasks). Tell her that she needs to stay in there for 5 minutes...she can choose to cry or she can choose to be happy...then gradually build up the time that she spends in there until you can get your dinner prepared. If all of her needs are met (clean diaper, fed, etc.) you CAN expect her to be in the playpen. It is for her safety and your sanity. You are a better parent when you are fed and your needs are met too. It won't hurt her to cry for a few minutes. You want to make her playpen a place where she WANTS to go. What does she like? Maybe her favorite toy or something that she can't play with unless she spends time in the playpen....don't use is as a place to punish, use it as a place she WANTs to be in! She is at an age where she wants to explore, but she can sit and play for a few minutes with out needing to have the entire house to explore. Now the true challenge would be if you can listen to her cry to get out. Would it be possible that you could move the playpen near the kitchen so she can see what you are doing and you can talk to her, yet she is safe? Let her play with some pots, spoons and pans--tell her to cook dinner while you cook dinner....

I hope some of these ideas help you find an opportunity to have some sanity during the challenging dinner hour! Ugh, I do remember when I was there so many times. Just count your blessings that she doesn't climb out of the daughter could climb out of her crib by the time she was 9 months old! That was terrible! She was pretty much a Houdini! BEst of luck with your little one!

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