Important Child Development Milestones: Your Baby at 9 Months

There is hardly a trace of that tiny bundle of joy you brought home from the hospital just nine months ago. Now your baby is a mobile, vocal, and very enterprising adventurer. You’re probably constantly surprised by what he is picking up on.

While those tiny baby shoes look cute on the store shelves, you don’t need to worry about investing in shoes until your baby actually starts to walk or spend lots of times outdoors. For now, barefoot is best. Standing and walking in bare feet helps him develop the muscles and tendons in his feet. It’s also easier to grip the floor in bare feet. Socks with non-skid bottoms can keep your baby’s feet warm while not interfering with developing their muscles.

The following checklist gives you an idea of the milestones we would expect to see a baby reach by the end of nine months.

What most babies do by this age:

Social and Emotional:

  • May be afraid of strangers

  • May be clingy with familiar adults

  • Has favorite toys

Language and Communication:

  • Understands “no”

  • Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”

  • Copies sounds and gestures of others

  • Uses fingers to point at things

Cognitive (learning, thinking, and problem-solving):

  • Watches the path of something as it falls

  • Looks for things she sees you hide

  • Plays peek-a-boo

  • Puts things in his mouth

  • Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other

  • Picks up things like cereal o’s between thumb and index finger

Movement and Physical Development:

  • Stands, holding on

  • Can get into sitting position

  • Sits without support

  • Pulls to stand

  • Crawls

With your child on the move, you may need to be redecorating to make hazards inaccessible.  Many common household items can choking hazards or toxic. A dish of pennies on a coffee table or cleaning supplies under your sink can pose a risk. Moving things up out of reach or using child safety latches can give you a little peace of mind as your little one starts to get around, but constant adult supervision is key.  

It’s important to keep in mind, while every child develops at a slightly different pace, certain behaviors, or a lack of certain behaviors, may indicate meaningful developmental delays that parents and caregivers will want to address.

Act Early by letting to your child’s medical provider know if your child:

  • Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support

  • Doesn’t sit with help

  • Doesn’t babble (“mama”, “baba”, “dada”)

  • Doesn’t play any games involving back-and-forth play

  • Doesn’t respond to own name

  • Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people

  • Doesn’t look where you point

  • Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to the other

Talk to your child’s medical provider if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age. You may also benefit from talking with someone familiar with the available services for young children in your local area, such as your state’s public early intervention program. For more information, visit the CDC's “If You’re Concerned” webpage or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. Ask your child’s medical provider about your child’s developmental screening.

This parenting tip blog post has been adapted from resources available through the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Explore their website for further information more detailed checklists about child development.

And check out the resources available through the Exchange Family Center for parents and caregivers. We’ll be continuing this deep dive into important child development milestones in upcoming posts. So stay tuned!