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Your 9-Month-Old: Milestones & Development

May 13, 2024

Vera Malushi, PT, DPT, lends us her expertise as a pediatric physical therapist to recommend developmentally-appropriate ways to play with your 9-month-old. She is the founder of Milestones Pediatric Physical Therapy and shares a wealth of knowledge and tips on her Instagram page @milestones_pediatric_pt.


Isn’t it incredible how much your baby is capable of, when it feels like just yesterday that you had to support their head when holding them upright? Now, your baby has been out in the big, wide world for the same amount of time that they were in the womb! Nine months have flown by, and you have a babbling, crawling, clapping baby on your hands! Your little one probably is no longer content to stay still on your lap, and is getting into all kinds of mischief. Make sure that the house is fully baby-proofed because these babies are smarter—and quicker—than they look. While you’ve got your hands full with your little one on the move, there’s even more fun to look forward to this month!

Physical development & movement

Your baby is likely crawling on all fours now (no more dragging themselves along on their belly, although it’s okay if they still are!), and also pulling up to stand wherever they can. All that standing is helping them get ready to walk! Yup, your baby’s first steps aren’t far away, so this is a perfect time to bring out the push toys and activity tables. When you hold your baby’s hands and “walk” them, you may notice them taking steps with their feet. With your supervision and help, they should be able to begin using a push walker or cruising along an activity table or the couch!

While your baby is mastering big moves like crawling and standing, they’re also working on a very important fine motor milestone: the pincer grasp. The pincer grasp is the ability to grab a small object using the thumb and index finger, and this skill will help them learn to self-feed, and later on, get dressed, and draw and color! You can encourage this development by giving your baby small puffs to eat or Cheerios (just make sure that honey isn’t an ingredient, as honey is a no-no until after their first birthday).

Emotional development

If your baby has suddenly become extra clingy with their primary caregiver, they’re right on time for this very normal stage in their development. Separation anxiety hits several peaks in the early years of childhood, and this age is the first big peak. Meet them where they’re at, and give lots of extra cuddles to let them know that you’re always there for comfort and security. Although it seems counterintuitive, secure attachment in early childhood actually leads to greater independence later in life!

Language

Ever since your baby discovered their voice, they’ve been busy practicing making all sorts of sounds! Those adorable babbles may have already given way to real words like “mama” and “dada.” Although they most likely still don’t understand the meaning of those words yet, it’s still incredibly heart-warming to hear them call your name! While their expressive language is still a little ways behind, their receptive language is getting better by the day. Your baby may understand simple words like “clap,” “hi,” and “bye” and will make a clapping or waving gesture in response!

Your little one has also begun to express their needs by pointing at things with their fingers. When they point at things they want, you can say the word and continue repeating it to encourage their verbal skills. Board books with large pictures are also a big hit at this age and help your baby expand their vocabulary!

Feeding

Your little one is eating 2 or 3 meals of solid food a day now, and getting much more proficient at chewing and swallowing. Offer plenty of food with varying textures, but make sure they’re cooked and served in an age-appropriate way to prevent choking. Your baby should still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk and/or formula, but they’re also getting important nutrients from solid food, too.

How to play with your 9-month-old

In month 9, your baby is likely crawling around the house and trying to pull up to stand. Provide baby with opportunities to practice pulling to stand by using masking tape to tape light toys and trinkets to the wall at baby’s standing reach. Have baby crawl up to the wall and pull to stand. For a baby that is not quite pulling to stand, lower the toys to practice just playing on their knees. For an advanced baby, you can encourage cruising along the wall by taping the toys sideways along the wall.
Dr. Vera Malushi, PT, DPT

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Your 9-Month-Old: Milestones & Development

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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