9 Month Visit
Nine months – the age of mobility! Watch out, you’re about to have another human in your house who can move about freely. That means you’ll be surprised when she shows up holding a thumb tack that you never found when you thought you “baby proofed” the house. And if that isn’t enough, your “little baby” is about to start eating your food.
What most babies do by this age:
- Is shy, clingy, or fearful around strangers
- Shows several facial expressions, like happy, sad, angry, and surprised
- Looks when you call her name
- Reacts when you leave (looks, reaches for you, or cries)
- Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo
- Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”
- Lifts arms up to be picked up
Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
- Looks for objects when dropped out of sight (like his spoon or toy)
- Bangs two things together
Movement/Physical Development Milestones
- Gets to a sitting position by herself
- Moves things from one hand to her other hand
- Uses fingers to “rake” food towards himself
- Sits without support
Source: CDC – Learn the Signs, Act Early
Next, work on…
By 9 months, your baby may be pulling up to stand against a couch or in their crib. You can start working on “cruising” by having them stand against a couch and work toward moving down the couch toward a toy placed a few feet out of their reach.
After they’re cruising, start working on transferring from the couch to another furniture item. Next add a walk-behind style push toy to start working on walking.
Finally, get ready! This little person is about to make a wreck out of your house.
Keep reading to your baby often and start naming things that she sees and interacts with. Name yourselves (which means that you need to decide what you want her to call you!).
Whew, no vaccines are due today unless you need to catch up on anything that we’ve missed so far. Of course if it’s flu vaccine season, that one is due.
Because of your baby’s increased mobility, be aware of potential falling hazards like stairs and furniture. You may need to install safety gates to protect your baby from certain parts of the house. To prevent burn injuries, keep children away from the stove, turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove, and do not drink hot liquids near your child.
Because your baby is more mobile now, keep Poison Control’s number (800-222-1222) accessible in case your child ingests anything out of the ordinary.
You may use infant suncreen now. Remember to continue to use clothing and hats to help avoid overexposure to the sun. Insect repellents containing DEET may also be used at this age, but you may want to spray it on your hand and rub it on the skin or use repellent wipes.
It is safest to keep your baby rear-facing in her carseat until she is 2 years old. The side label of your infant carrier gives guidance as to when to move her to a “convertible” car seat and out of the carrier.
If you own a gun, we encourage you not to store it at home or in the car. If you do store the gun at home, it should be unloaded, locked up and ammunition should be stored in a separate place from the gun.
Breast milk or formula are starting to be more equal with food from a calorie perspective. It’s time to start feeding your baby three times a day. The good news is: meal prep is getting easier now.
Most 9 month olds are ready to start eating most foods from your plate. The only restrictions are honey (for infection reasons) and choking hazard foods. Foods that cause concern for choking include soft, round, “throat shaped” items like grapes and hot dogs. These items can be cut into quarters and become much more baby friendly. Hard, small items like actual nuts and popcorn kernels are also risks for choking and should be avoided for several years. In between items like raisins may be introduced once your child has molars and is able to chew them well.
Because most babies have mastered the pincer grasp, they can pick up small objects successfully. This makes feeding themselves an enjoyable challenge! Babies love finger foods such as crackers, cooked vegetables, pasta, rice, soft pieces of fruit, and dry cereal. Spices, seasonings and sauces are all fair game now, so feel free to cut up your spaghetti or even mexican casserole.
We don’t want to stop giving babies the ‘good stuff’ in breast milk or formula yet, so we won’t switch to cow’s milk until 12 months of age. But milk based items like cheese and yogurt are fine to introduce now.
We’ll still avoid honey until the first birthday because of its connection with an infection that can affect young babies.
At 9 months, sleep is generally either good or bad. And if it’s bad, sometimes it’s really bad.
This is the age where it’s ok to start letting your baby “cry it out”. Different versions of the “Ferber method” start to make sense at this age.
That said, sleep can be a very cultural thing. If you’re ok with the way that you and your baby are getting through the night, you may stick with what you’re doing. If you’re needing for him to sleep better and bother you less, you will likely be able to make great strides of improvement with a little push. If that’s the case, talk to your pediatrician for some specific advice tailored to your situation.
Many infants at this age cry when their parents leave their presence. Such behavior is normal and relates to their cognitive and social development. This behavior does not reflect that they are spoiled. Thanks to their new memory skills, babies at this age know that when you leave, you still exist. This is a very important skill, but can also lead to difficulty when leaving. This is why babies often protest at bedtime and cry out for you in the middle of the night. They try to get you to return by gesturing, crying and calling out.
- Play hide and seek games like peek-a-boo. Disappearing and reappearing games like this help your baby learn to cope with separation.
- Be positive when leaving her. Go to her at night to reassure her that you are still there, but don’t pick her up and rock her back to sleep. Falling asleep in your arms makes it more difficult for her to soothe herself back to sleep if she wakes up again at night. When saying “goodbye”, tell her you will miss her, but that you will return. Make sure she has something that gives her comfort, like her “blankie” or favorite stuffed toy.