Baby Development: Your 9-Month-Old

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 18, 2023
4 min read

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 they are 9 months old.

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 them develop the muscles and tendons in their 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. 

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 -- they just need to learn and explore new things every day.

If your 9-month-old is like many babies at this age, they 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 they 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 them before. For instance, they 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 them. The good news is that 9-month-old babies are easily distracted and the tears shouldn’t last long.

  • Your 9-month-old is eager to move around. Give them 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 they should not do.
  • Hold your baby’s hands and walk around the room together so they can practice getting around on two feet.