What Should a 9-Month-Old Baby Be Doing?

Reviewed on 6/23/2021
what should a 9-month-old baby be doing
What should babies be doing at 9 months? Learn what developmental milestones you can expect

By 9 months, your baby may have reached several big developmental milestones. They may be exploring objects around them with their hands and mouth. They may also be crawling, climbing onto furniture and stairs, and pulling up to stand by themselves.

Each baby will progress at their own pace, depending on their unique preferences and growing body. So keep in mind that when looking out for milestones, you should be looking at the larger picture of how your baby has been developing since birth instead of obsessively ticking off a checklist. If you feel that your baby’s development is concerning or something has changed dramatically, talk to your doctor.

Developmental milestones at 9 months

Physical movement

  • Crawl on their hands and knees
  • Pull up to a standing position while holding on to the furniture
  • Change positions (for example, rolling from tummy to back)
  • Sit unsupported
  • Able to grasp a small object using their thumb and fingertips
  • Play with toys 

Language and communication

  • Wave “bye bye” and say “mama” at different times of the day
  • Point to the mother or crawl to her when asked “Where is Mama?
  • Use gestures to communicate their needs (for example, reaching out their hands to be picked up)

Cognitive and emotional

  • Start to understand that objects continue to exist even when they are not seen (for example, lifting a blanket to find a toy that you just hid underneath)
  • Suffer from separation anxiety (distress when being parted from a parent or another caregiver)

Sleep schedule

  • Take two naps a day fairly consistently
  • Nap for 2-4 hours during the day
  • Sleep for 11-12 hours throughout the night

Feeding schedule

  • Eat about 3 meals a day with small snacks in between
  • Be introduced to solids
  • Stop nighttime feeds 

How can I help my baby continue to develop?

As your 9-month-old develops, encourage them to continue practicing the skills they’re learning. 

For example, if your child tries to stand up on their own and your response each time is to rush over to pick them up or sit them back down, they will start to expect that. Avoid this by showing them how to sit down instead of doing it for them, and give them the space and time to figure it out for themselves.

One important thing you can do to help your baby’s language development is to teach them sign language for a few common words, such as “more,” “milk,” “all done,” “eat/food,” etc. 

You can also begin to teach the concept of cause and effect. Push buttons on a musical toy and then dance to the music. Play peekaboo and let your baby pry your hands away from your smiling face.

Here are other tips that may help your 9-month-old’s development:

  • Teach them the difference between cold and hot objects.
  • Give them large toys so they can start walking while playing with them.
  • Give them toys that require precision to help them master motor skills.
  • Show them picture books and help them learn the names of different objects.
  • Take them to the zoo or the mall to see the world around them.
  • Sing songs with them to encourage speech.
  • Don’t leave them in front of the television.
  • When leaving them with a sitter or at a daycare center, leave them with something of your own to make them less anxious around strangers.

When to consult a doctor about your baby’s development

Consult your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby’s development or if your baby:

  • Isn’t interested in rolling over, sitting, or other types of movement
  • Isn’t interested in reaching for objects or putting objects in their mouth
  • Doesn’t respond to sounds or visual cues
  • Resists eye contact
  • Doesn’t babble, coo, or imitate common sounds

Trust your instincts. The earlier a problem is detected, the earlier it can be treated.

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References
Important Milestones: You’re Baby by Nine Months: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-9mo.html

Your baby's developmental milestones at 9 months: https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-development/your-babys-developmental-milestones-9-months

Baby Development: Your 9-Month-Old: https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-development-9-month-old#1

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