Every age that your little one crosses is all sorts of exciting, and that 9 month mark is no exception. It’s a super social age, and many babies love ‘talking’ to people and bopping along to music. As they are much more engaged with the world around them, now is the perfect time to introduce swimming, music classes or attending a playgroup. Solid foods are coming into play, so they can develop their very own taste palette. Basically, your baby’s brain is having a total growth spurt as they flesh out their own personality. Your baby’s memory is developing as they grow attachments to people (they might even start showing favourites!)
So if you’re curious about what baby development looks like at this stage, we’re giving you the run down of the milestones that most babies have at 9 months, and what to look out for.
What should a 9-month-old be doing?
You’ll be growing used to your baby’s babbling (how cute!) and silly sounds as they creep towards their first real words. Your little one might be saying simple words like “mama” or “dada” or even “bye bye!” Communication development at nine months might look like making sounds to get what they want, using body language or facial expressions to show how they’re feeling.
You’ll notice that your baby loves peek-a-boo and other back and forth play, and they’re always laughing at funny sounds. They might start understanding patterns better and successfully play games. Eye contact is another way that they’ll be connecting with people.
They might also be showing some separation anxiety, now that they’re realising the whole notion of object permanence. Their stronger memory can also cause this separation anxiety, now that they’re deeper attachments to people.
Preparing meals will become a lot easier now, as your baby will be able to enjoy food closer to that of a family meal. They will be able to handle the consistency of risotto and a lot more finger foods with their meal. This is thanks to the pincer grasp that your baby develops as part of the 9 month old milestones. The pincer grasp is the ability to hold something between the thumb and pointer finger, and opens up a whole new world of food groups for your baby to enjoy. This is a good time to introduce solid foods (yay!) and different kinds of finger foods (think vegetables, fruit, pasta, tofu, or pieces of scrambled eggs). Breast milk alone is no longer enough for your baby.
Your baby’s development might seem them crawling and getting from a sitting position into a standing position with support. Some 9 month old babies even start walking (often while putting one hand on furniture to hold them steady.)
Fine motor skills are also big developmental milestones, as your baby’s growth will see them separate their fingers and use them separately. The can pick up their favourite toy and pass it between their hands. This does mean you’ll need to keep out for a choking hazard, so keep any hazards out of your baby’s reach (this includes baby-proofing electrical outlets).
With all this new spunk and excitement for life, your little can barely shut their eyes in case they miss out! You might notice some sleep regression, with your baby one waking up a lot and struggling to have naps.
What are the red flags for 9-month-old babies?
There are actually few certain red flags for your child’s development (all babies have their own pace), and many parents stress out without needing to. You don’t need to hit all the important milestones before their first birthday. But there a couple things that might prompt you to reach out to your child’s pediatrician or your child’s doctor.
If your baby isn’t crawling, or can’t stand up unsupported, these might be worth raising. Same goes if your little one isn’t saying single words (mama or dada), doesn’t babble, or shows no interest in games like peek-a-boo or patty cake.
Again, these aren’t immediate signals of a problem. You’re baby’s development can look unique, and that’s ok. That’s actually the case for most children.
What should you start teaching your 9-month-old?
In saying that, it’s so exciting when your little learns new skills, and you can support their growth in lots of ways. Chatting throughout the day to your baby, even while doing simple tasks, helps provide them with all sorts of cues and insights about conversations.
You can also respond to your baby’s babbling to help them feel super loved, and also support their literacy and communication skills.
To develop those much-desired walking skills, make sure to encourage movement in your 9 month old. This helps build their muscle strength (and confidence) to take those first steps. And when they are almost on the move, having bare feet helps to give them that extra little grip.
And again, we can’t emphasise enough, that it’s totally normal for baby development to differ from on baby to the next. Most babies are doing their own thing, so embrace their special journey!