9 months old
There’s no stopping your little 9-month-old baby, banging out each milestone and swiftly moving on to the next. And as much as you loved the infant stage, it’s safe to say that you’ve finally arrived at one of the most precious phases of babyhood: personality beaming, belly laughs in abundance and a new sense of independence. Because so much is going on in their fascinating world, it’s normal for babies to hone in on different skills at different times. For instance, maybe your little one is too busy crawling around to focus on spewing out his first word. Know that every baby will develop at his or her own rate, and there’s a very wide-ranging spectrum of “normal.” Talk to your doctor about any concerns.
You might expect your 9-month-old to:
- Pull up to a standing position, and stand while holding onto something
- Hold on to furniture and cruise around the room
- Creep, crawl or figure out another creative way to get from Point A to Point B
- Eat finger foods and start using a spoon
- Drink from a sippy cup
- Say “mama” or “dada” without addressing the correct person – although some babies might be able to use the words appropriately
- Play peek-a- boo
- Master the “pincer grasp,” which is the ability to pick up small objects with his or her thumb and pointer finger
- Wave “hi” and/or “bye”
- Bang objects together
- Clap his or her hands
- Possibly stand alone momentarily
You might think that playtime is just a way to entertain your little one, but it’s actually an important part of development. Playtime is a way to practice, discover and learn – and there are ways you can help enhance your baby’s 9-month-old skills during the day:
- First, we want to relieve you of the anxiety that you have to use playtime to teach your baby. Instead, think of yourself as your baby’s little assistant – she’s in the driver’s seat and you’re just there to help her explore and figure things out. Follow her lead and her interests. For example, if you’re at the park and a dog walks by, but your baby is riveted by a blade of grass, stick to the grass (“Oh, look it’s green, it’s blowing in the wind:”) rather than assuming you need to point out the dog. Try to see things from her perspective instead.
- Break out the pots and wooden spoons, as your baby will love to bang, shake and crash.
- Along the same lines, your little one will be more curious than ever – and that’s a good thing, as long as it’s done safely. If your baby keeps trying to get into the child-locked kitchen cabinets, designate one low cabinet strictly for your baby to explore. Fill it with various sizes and textures – like a couple of pots, some Tupperware bowls, wooden spoons, dish towels, etc. – and give your baby free reign. (Bonus: You’ll actually be able to cook.)
- If you haven’t done so already, make sure that all of your furniture is safe to pull up on since your baby will want to practice cruising – which is the first step to walking. Pad sharp corners, put away breakable items and bolt down heavy furniture like televisions and bookcases. You might even want to rearrange your furniture. Make your house as accessible as possible for playtime.
- Your baby can now understand the complex concept of object permanence – meaning he or she knows that objects are still there when covered with a blanket or your hands. Any variations of “peek-a-boo” games will be a favorite this month.
- Some babies experience a big jump in language development right about now, saying more vowel-consonant combinations and even a first word. (“Dada” is a popular 9-month-old word.) Now more than ever, keep chatting with your little one, engaging him or her in conversations, and of course reading books.
- Because your baby will comprehend language faster than he or she will speak it, this is a good time to bring baby sign language into playtime.
- Your baby will also love to mimic, so play cell phones (or, let’s face it, your actual cell phone), pretend remotes and ride-in cars are popular 9-month-old toys.
- If your baby is able to stand while holding onto something, this could be the perfect time for a push toy. (He or she might be a little young, but it will be very useful as your baby starts learning how to walk.)
- Balls are always a crowd pleaser, especially now that your baby might be able to roll one back to you.
- Anything that your baby can fill and dump (like a toy bin, bucket, bag, etc.) will provide endless entertainment.
- While wooden blocks are perfect to practice stacking, your 9-month-old will probably spend more time tossing, pushing and pulling them around the floor. Either way, they’re a great toy to have on hand as you round out your baby’s first year.
- Find more age-appropriate toys here.