Baby Development: Your 9-Month-Old

Three-quarters of the way through your baby’s first year and there is hardly a trace of that tiny bundle you brought home from the hospital just nine months ago. Now your baby is a mobile, vocal, and very enterprising adventurer.

In this portion of WebMD’s month-by-month guide, you’ll discover what baby milestones you can expect your child to achieve when she’s 9 months old.

Ninth Month Baby Milestones: Motor Skills

At nine months, your baby has likely become an expert crawler. Some babies are such crawling pros they can hold a toy in one hand while they propel themselves using the other hand and their two knees. Some can even crawl up and down stairs with ease. Just make sure you keep the gate closed unless you’re there to supervise the climbing.

At nine months, babies are also becoming experts at quickly changing position. They can push up to a crawl position, sit back down, and pivot to pick up a toy. Your little one may even be able to pull to a stand, and may soon start cruising around the room while holding onto furniture.

Although those tiny baby shoes might look enticing on the store shelves, you don’t need to invest in shoes until your baby actually starts to walk or is spending lots of time outdoors. For now, barefoot is best when indoors. Standing and walking in bare feet helps him develop the muscles and tendons in his feet. It’s also easier to grip the floor in bare feet. When it gets cold outside, socks with non-skid bottoms will keep your baby’s feet warm.

In addition to getting ready for walking, 9-month-old babies are also improving their fine motor skills. With their pincer grasp, they’re able to pick up smaller toys, and they can better coordinate the movement of both hands. These little sleuths will use their newfound motor skills to try to figure out how everything works -- which peg fits in the round hole, how cups fit inside one another, and which end of the toy telephone goes over their ear. Just make sure the toys they are playing with aren't a choking hazard. 

Remember that each baby’s motor skills develop differently. Some children spend very little time in a developmental phase or may skip over a phase altogether. Talk to your child's pediatrician if you have any concerns, such as your baby not crawling by this age. 

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Ninth Month Baby Milestones: Boosting Baby’s Brainpower

Your baby’s first year is a crucial time for brain development. Trillions of tiny connections are forming that will create the foundation for a lifetime of learning. You can accelerate baby’s brain growth by providing a stimulating environment.

But you don’t need to invest in a series of expensive videos or teaching tools to nurture a smart baby. No DVD can ever replace the value of human interaction. Reading, singing, and talking to your baby every day are the best ways to bolster brain development. And remember, your child doesn’t need to start reading at nine months to be a smart baby -- he just needs to learn and explore new things every day.

Ninth Month Baby Milestones: Communication

If your 9-month-old is like many babies at this age, he may be babbling away nonstop. Those babbles might sound almost like real sentences, although no one will understand them but your baby. However, you may start to recognize a couple of real words, such as “Mama,” “Dada,” or “hi.”

Your baby’s understanding of language is improving, too. If you ask, “Where’s the ball?” your baby may go pick up a ball. Or you might ask, “Where's the cow?" and he may point to a picture of a cow.

In the brief pauses between babbles your baby is becoming a good listener and reader of body language. You may notice that your baby brings you a favorite toy to see you smile in response. Some babies are effective comedians, even at this young age. They’ll blow bubbles and make funny sounds, just to elicit a laugh from the grown-ups around them.

At other times, your baby will be a lot less happy -- especially when you’re about to leave the room. Separation anxiety is starting to be an issue at this age and so is stranger anxiety. Your baby may express a fear of people and things that never bothered him before. For instance, he may suddenly start crying whenever grandma comes to visit or the lights go out at bedtime. This is because your baby’s awareness and memory are improving. For the same reason, you’ll probably see a few tears when you try to take something away from him. The good news is that 9-month-old babies are easily distracted and the tears shouldn’t last long.

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Tips for Your Baby’s Ninth Month:

  • Your 9-month-old is eager to move around. Give him plenty of opportunities to crawl, stand, and cruise -- with you nearby to supervise, of course.
  • Nine months isn’t too young to start setting limits. Your baby should understand the word “no” or a similar means of communication by now. Use it whenever your little one is about to do something he should not do.
  • Hold your baby’s hands and walk around the room together so he can practice getting around on two feet.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on January 19, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Stern, T., Rosenbaum, J., Fava, M., Biederman, J., Rauch, S., eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry, 1st edition, Mosby Elsevier, 2008.

Kliegman, R., Behrman, R., Jenson, H., Stanton, B., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th edition, Saunders Elsevier, 2007.

Joanne Cox, MD, director, Primary Care Center, associate chief of general pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Boston.

Jennifer Shu, MD, Children’s Medical Group, Atlanta; co-author, Heading Home with Your Newborn.

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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