Almost three quarters of a year have passed. Your little world explorer is busier than ever. While she keeps honing the various skills she has learned in the past eight months, her unique personality is also becoming more pronounced. Whether she is calm, stubborn, eager, or quick-tempered, she is not shy about displaying her emotions. On the other hand, this makes your life easier, as you no longer need to guess how she feels.
Playing with you is still the primary way for her to learn. You may find yourself even busier than the days when she was little. Other than taking care of her sleeping and feeding, you also need to be a full-time entertainer. At this stage, you hopefully have figured out her preferences in activities and toys. In addition to strengthening her motor skills, activities in this month should also focus on the development of her cognitive skills. Oh, don’t forget, as your baby’s playground expands, along with the types of activities, you should also be proactive when it comes to safety.
- Grasps with thumb, index finger, and middle finger: Your little one now is able to grasp small objects better. She no longer uses her entire palm to try to pick things up. Instead, she learns to use the three main fingers: thumb, index finger, and middle finger. This is called the Radial Digital Grasp. Thanks to this new skill, she now enjoys playing with activity boards that have plenty of interactive objects.
- Claps and waves hands: Your 9-month-old now will learn more ways way to express her joy – clapping and waving. She will be able to bring two palms together to face each other. Though some babies start clapping hands as early as 6 months, most of the babies start this skill closer to 8 and 9 months. Babies at this stage may also wave their cute little hands. When you see your little one waving at someone, she might be saying Hi, or goodbye, or simply just showing her friendliness and affection.
- Pulls up to stand: Thanks to stronger core muscles, your little one is likely able to pull herself up to a standing position now. Whenever her little hands grasp something that is fixed, she enjoys trying out her newly discovered superpower and transitioning into a new position all by herself!
- Explores objects using both hands and mouth: At 9 months, your little one is still on a mission to explore everything she sees. She holds objects with both hands and brings them to her mouth. She identifies what she likes by smelling and tasting the object.
- Develops food preferences: At 9 months, your little one may have already tried some different types of solid foods. She learns to judge food based on its smell and taste. When you feed her something new, she will give you a honest feedback from her facial expressions. At this stage, she may have already developed a preference or aversion to certain food.
Social-Emotional and Cognitive Skills
- Starts to understand simple words: Your little tot started to listen to you even before she was born. Though she has not learned how to talk back to you, yet, she has been actively listening to what you say. She not only listens to the words but also observes your tone and your non-verbal language. At 9 months, your little one will start to make sense of simple words such as “milk”, “dog”, or “eat”. She should also respond well to her own name and understand when you say “No”.
- May be afraid of being left alone: Your 9-month-old baby may have already developed separation anxiety. Over the past eight months, she has developed a strong attachment to you and gotten used to being around you all the time. If you leave her for a brief period of time, or if she doesn’t see you, she becomes anxious and may cry. She will also develop a favorite toy or object as a substitute if she hasn’t found one.
- Learns to mimic: In the second half of their first year, many babies learn to imitate adults. Your 9-month-old probably loves to copy you in simple words you say. In addition, she imitates your facial expressions, too. Mischievous as it looks, this is an important exercise to further develop her communication skills and cognitive skills.
- Develops stranger anxiety: Remember how your little one was such a friendly gal and shows affection to everybody? Well, this may not be the case anymore. At nine months, your little tot starts to tell who is a stranger and who is not. When she sees anyone who is not around her regularly, she may show reluctance or even cry.
Activities with Your 9-Month-Old Baby
1. Play with Musical Toys
9-month-old babies love music. They are intrigued by all kinds of tunes, rhythms, pitches, and sounds. It’s time to diversify her playlist and add some more fancy songs. Nonetheless, a better way is to let her play with musical instrument toys such as baby keyboards, pianos, or drums. Baby phones and tablets are good options, too, if your little one is interested in pressing buttons. In addition, musical books also provide sounds, pictures, and interactive toys.
2. Take Her Out
Your little tot may have tons of toys in the house, but no matter how much she loves them, there is nothing more attractive than the outside world. It is time for a change of view! At 9 months, your little one is able to see well and understand better. There are so many places for her to explore: the grocery stores, the malls, the zoos… An upright stroller can help hold all her belongings and provide a comfortable place for her to sit. As you show your little one around, don’t forget to introduce and explain everything to her. No information is too much for her curious little mind.
3. Interactive Play
As your little one becomes more aware and alert, playing with her is no longer a chore, but an enjoyable and relaxing time for you, too. During playtime, keep encouraging her and acknowledging her effort. Through your cheers and praises, she learns to be confident and persistent. If you are busy with work or house chores, there are interactive toys that can be great companions, too.
Evidence-based milestone ages as a framework for developmental surveillance: https://academic.oup.com/pch/article/17/10/561/2638880
Learning, Play, and Your 8- to 12- Month-Old: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/learn812m.html
Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP began practicing pediatrics at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey in 2000. She has been an independently contracted pediatrician with Medical Doctors Associates at Pediatricare Associates of New Jersey since 2005.