Baby is on the move! Whether crawling, cruising, or even walking a little, your baby has started to interact with their environment.
Whether this means flipping through baby books, imitating simple play, or showing a strong reaction after eating a new food, it’s easier than ever to tell what baby thinks about what they’re experiencing.
While every child develops at a different pace, here are the progress points you should note in order to update your pediatrician about your baby’s growth.
The two most important things to look out for at 9 months are a surge in physical independence and an urge to explore.
In this sense, a little frustration is normal. A baby who can’t walk quite yet but is crawling and cruising usually gets frustrated when they can’t do everything they want. That said, don’t be surprised if baby gets sad when you leave. They’re not ready to give up their personal ride share service just yet. Mobility milestones at 9 months include:
- sitting without support
- creeping or crawling
- using both hands to explore toys
- turning head to visually track objects
- more control while rolling or sitting
- starting to pull to stand
- enjoying bouncing up and down or rocking back and forth
- trying to lean toward, reach for, and pick up toys
This is such a vital stage for sensory development. Your baby is all about exploration of the world around them, and for the first time they have the physical mobility to do it! The sensory behaviors you’re looking for include:
- exploring and examining an object using both hands and mouth
- turning several pages of a chunky board book at once
- experimenting with the amount of force needed to pick up different objects
- focusing on objects near and far
- investigating shapes, sizes, and textures
- observing environment from a variety of positions
Emotional and cognitive
A new development in baby’s short life: Cognition is more easily tracked by verbal communication now.
When you ask and gesture to baby to turn off the light, do they reach for the switch? When you say Grandma called, do they seem to recognize the name? Whether or not your baby is speaking beyond a babble yet, you should feel like you’re communicating with them better than ever. The behaviors you’re looking for include:
- using increased variety of sounds and syllable combinations in babbling
- looking at familiar objects and people when named
- recognizing their name
- beginning to use hand movements to communicate wants and needs
- follows some routine commands when paired with gestures
- distinguishing between familiar and unfamiliar voices
- shows recognition of commonly used words
- mimics facial expressions and gestures
What to ask your doctor
Your pediatrician should be a valuable resource for you as well as your baby. You should never be afraid to switch doctors or get a second opinion, even if you’ve been going to the same one since baby was born.
As baby gets older, your questions will only become more varied and personal, so give yourself the gut check: Is this the doctor I want traveling with my child past the baby stage?
If you do have that essential trust established, some good questions at this stage include the following:
- What isn’t safe for baby to be around and what needs to be stored?
- How much baby-proofing is necessary to both encourage exploration and protect baby?
- Can you do the weighing at the end of the appointment? My baby doesn’t like the scale.
- How do I get my baby to eat this vegetable, meat, or fruit if they don’t like it?
- What should I look out for in their development in the next few months?
- Are there any voluntary immunizations I should consider for my child?
When to call your doctor
If by 9 months your baby is struggling to express themselves vocally or to make any independent movement, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician right away. Here are additional red flags to bear in mind as you care for baby:
- doesn’t reach for objects or put objects in their mouth
- doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people
- doesn’t play games involving back and forth
- doesn’t sit with help
- doesn’t respond to their own name
What you can do to support baby
The last few months before your baby turns 1 are months of transition. Your baby is learning the building blocks to be independent emotionally, physically, and cognitively.
It can be tempting to push your child toward these milestones, but one of the biggest ways you can help your baby grow is to provide a stable, supportive environment. After all, it’s so much more fun to take the leap into something new when we absolutely know our parents are there to catch us if we fall.