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Your Baby at 9 Months Old

What to expect for your baby’s development, milestones, eating, and sleeping in the ninth month

 

Get ready: Nine months marks the time when most babies begin crawling! Once baby is on the move, there’s no looking back. Other developments happening this month often include pulling up to stand, pointing and clapping, and possibly dropping a nap (eek!). Here’s what to expect from your baby at nine months.

Nine-Month-Old Development

Your baby’s growth story at nine months sounds much like last month’s: gains of a little less than a pound in weight, 3/8ths inch of length, and a smidge in head circumference. The days of those sweet baby belly rolls and chunky thighs are numbered: most babies begin to thin out as they gain mobility. One area where your baby will continue to gain is on the top of his or her head. If your baby doesn’t already have a beautiful head of hair, s/he will soon.

Movement Development

Motor This month marks a momentous event for most babies: crawling. Like walking, crawling is complex and requires give and take movements from all four limbs. Crawling can take many forms. Babies’ arms being stronger than their legs at this point, some will rely on their forearms and elbows to propel them forward, army style. Others get up on all fours, prepare for launch, and then head backward! Others skip crawling altogether.

Also on the average baby’s to-do list: pulling up to stand. Place your seated baby next to a stable chair or the couch and it’s likely s/he will use it for support in a standing position at some point this month. If your baby is feeling ambitious, s/he might even begin cruising around the room, using the furniture for balance as s/he inches along. At first, when babies grow tired of standing, they plop down on their bottoms. Your baby will soon learn to bend the knees and lower down to sit.

Speaking of sitting, you might be surprised at how quickly your baby has become a pro at it. S/he probably loves being in a sitting position, which gives babies some control over their view. Playing is more fun while seated, and your baby might show off skills like pointing and reaching for toys and turning his or her head and torso to look around.

From holding a cup or bottle to self-feeding, baby’s continued work on the pincer grasp is obvious. This month babies often start using their hands for gestures and communication like pointing, waving, and clapping. They also master the milestone of banging two toys against each other. This skill requires they move both arms simultaneously, sit well unsupported, and be balanced. Consider that challenging feat when baby bangs the blocks together for the hundredth time!

Social and Mental Development

Kinda sad but true: It’s possible for your baby experience boredom this month. Babies’ expanding memories are recalling more and more, which means s/he can tire of the familiar when on a quest for new stimulation. You’ll see this in baby’s short attention span as s/he moves quickly from thing to thing. Unfortunately for parents, this is the beginning of a long stage in which baby needs constant supervision and high levels of engagement and entertainment from caregivers. Expect your little to get better at playing alone by age three (gulp!).

Last month, 75 percent of babies were babbling and stringing sounds and syllables together. This month, you might hear your baby say ‘mama’ and know that s/he’s talking about you! As your baby’s comprehension increases, s/he understands some words, including his or her name. S/he also understands simple songs and rhymes, which is why your baby laughs or giggles at appropriate times.  

Your little mimic adores you and never wants you to leave. Expect baby to experience some separation anxiety soon if s/he hasn’t already. On the other hand, your baby is anxious for independence so s/he can explore. Unfortunately, in your baby’s mind everything is safe and nothing is off limits, while you know better. Although your baby will balk at being told no and take issue with baby gates, door locks, and anything else that gets in the way of exploration, it’s essential that you set limits for baby’s safety and development. If you feel bad saying no to your baby, don’t: after all, overcoming frustration is a skill s/he has to learn as much as any other.

Senses Development

Sight

Hey you over there! Your baby can see clearly across a room and recognize familiar people and objects. All those movements s/he is mastering this month are helping with depth perception development.

Depth perception, in turn, helps baby gauge distances, foster awareness of heights, and aids with timing and cautiousness regarding obstacles.

Hearing

Say your baby’s name and other familiar words this month and it’s likely that s/he will respond in recognition.

Touch

Your baby’s improving hand skills are on display every time s/he wraps them around a cup or bottle, picks up a spoon, or pushes buttons on a toy.

Help Your Nine-Month-Old’s Development

There are a few things you can do to help your baby's development now.

  • Talk to your baby. Research has proven that when parents talk to a baby using a regular vocabulary, rather than baby talk, he will develop stronger language skills.
  • Add hand motions to your nursery rhymes and songs. When you play with your baby at nine months, songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider and Pop Goes The Weasel can help babies improve their coordination and even counting skills.
  • Turn off the TV. Television doesn't count when it comes to language development. Babies should hear interactive conversations around them. This helps them learn the rhythms and basic patterns of speech.

Milestones this Month

  • Baby is learning to crawl.
  • Baby stands with support and is working on pulling up to stand.
  • Baby bangs toys together.
  • Baby uses the pincer grasp (thumb and pointer finger) to self-feed and pick up small objects.
  • Baby points, claps, and/or waves goodbye.
  • Baby recognizes familiar words and tries to make the sounds.
  • Baby babbles and string syllables together.
  • Baby tests limits and watches for parental reactions.

Feeding at Nine Months

Solid food is of increasing importance in your baby’s diet with each passing day. Your baby might eat as much as four to nine tablespoons of cereal, fruits, and veggies each day, with one to six tablespoons full of protein rounding it out. S/he’ll top it off with four to five nursing sessions or three to four bottles every 24 hours. If you are thinking about weaning from breastfeeding, choose an iron-fortified formula in its place. Don’t offer cow’s milk under baby’s first birthday (with the approval of your doctor).

Sleeping at Nine Months

Nine-month-old babies can be good sleepers, capable of snoozing up to 12 hours at a stretch at night. Add in a couple of naps and baby might have a solid routine and sleep schedule consisting of 14-15 hours a day. But if your baby continues to wake at night, take heart: babies at this age can be so excited about their new crawling, standing, and creeping skills that they wake themselves up to practice their moves. If that seems to be the case with your baby, try to resettle him or her without too much engagement (i.e. don’t pick baby up and offer a feeding!). You can even allow some fussing or crying with the goal of teaching baby to self-soothe.

Common Concerns at Nine Months

Dropping a Nap

Your baby at nine months might start to drop his morning nap. If you're lucky, this means that he will take a longer afternoon nap. Make sure to put your baby down for a nap at the same time each afternoon and try to set a regular sleep routine so that he understands when it's time to sleep. This can prevent him from becoming cranky and weepy when it's time for a nap.

New Parent Help: Meeting Milestones

If it seems like your friends' babies are far more advanced and meeting milestones faster than yours, try not to worry. Milestones – and when babies meet them – vary quite a bit. If you're concerned, talk to your doctor, but as long as your child is progressing on a regular basis, it's okay if it's on his terms.

See what’s next with our month to month guides

There are so many exciting developments and changes in store for your baby in just the next few months! Take a look at what to expect at ten months and beyond with our month to month guides.

 

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