Nine Months Old

DEVELOPMENT

-Your baby is making a greater variety of sounds, including babbling. Your baby is very excited to see you, and will smile, babble, and reach out to draw your attention.

-Encourage your baby to use his/her emerging language skills by imitating your baby's own sounds and allowing your baby to answer or mimic you in return.

-To help your baby increase his/her understanding, keep talking to him/her as much as possible. Tell your baby what is happening around him/her, particularly as you bathe, change and feed him/her. Verbally label familiar toys and objects for your baby, and try to be as consistent as possible.

- Picture books can enhance this entire process by reinforcing your baby's budding understanding that everything has a name.

-Look for the development of the pincer grasp, which is when your baby uses his thumb and forefinger to pick up small objects.

-If you speak a second language in your home, do not be concerned that your baby will be confused by hearing two languages. Children who are exposed to two (or more) languages at a very young age, particularly when they hear both of them consistently, are able to learn both languages simultaneously. In general, the younger a baby is when both languages are introduced, the more proficiently he/she will learn them.

-As your baby learns to open his/her  fingers at will, your baby will delight in dropping and throwing things. If you leave small toys on the top of the high chair, your baby will fling them down and call loudly for someone to retrieve them so that the process can be repeated.

-With improved coordination, your baby can now investigate objects more thoroughly. Your baby will pick them up, shake them, bang them and pass them from hand to hand. Your baby will be particularly intrigued by toys with moving parts - wheels that spin, levers that can be moved, hinges that open and close.

-Holes are fascinating because your baby can poke fingers in them and, when he becomes more skilled, drop things through them.

-Your baby can now sit unassisted and may be able to lean and reach for objects in the near vicinity, being able to go from sitting to laying on his/her front.

-Your baby may begin to crawl on his/her stomach in a commando fashion. In the next few months, your baby will begin to crawl, pull him/herself to stand and start to take steps while holding onto furniture. A few children never do crawl. Instead, they will use alternative movement methods, such as scooting on their bottoms or slithering on their stomachs. As long as your baby is learning to coordinate each side of the body and is using each arm and leg equally, there is no cause for concern. The important thing is that your baby is able to explore his/her surroundings independently and is strengthening his/her body in preparation for walking. Being able to move from place to place gives your baby a delicious sense of power and control -the first real taste of physical independence. While exhilarating for your baby, it is also frightening since it comes at a time when your baby is most likely to be upset by separation from you. So as eager as your baby is to move out on his own and explore, your baby may wail if he/she moves out of your sight or you move too far away from your baby.

-At this time, you may want to consider shoes for your baby.  Shoes should have a firm, though somewhat flexible sole, with the sole extending a little past the toes. Shoes are not required for your baby to learn to walk.

-Some infants who previously slept through the night may begin to wake. This is often due to the development of object permanence. Your baby now realizes that you are nearby, and does not want to be separated. This is a normal stage development and not because you are spoiling your baby. This is occurring because your baby is now, for the first time, able to tell the difference between familiar and unfamiliar situations. If anything, the predictable anxieties of this period are evidence of a healthy relationship with you.

-The separation anxiety is an indication that your baby realizes that each object is unique and permanent and that there is only one of you. When you are out of sight, your   baby knows that you are somewhere but not with him/her. Your baby has little sense of time and will not know when or even whether you will come back.

- You should have a regular bedtime routine. The introduction of a favorite blanket, or stuffed animal, may help your baby to fall back to sleep. You should not feed or play with your baby as this swiftly becomes a habit. 

-Knowing when to guide your child and when to let them do things for themselves is part of the art of parenting. At this age, your baby is very expressive and will give you the cues you need to decide when to intervene. When your baby is acting frustrated rather than challenged, do not let him/her struggle alone. If your baby is crying because the ball is wedged under the sofa out of reach, he/she needs your help. At other times, it is important to let him/her solve their own problems. You may be tempted to feed your baby and not allow him/her to touch the food because it is faster and less messy than self feeding. However, this deprives your baby of a chance to develop a valuable new skill. The more opportunities you can give your baby to test, discover and strengthen new capabilities, the more confident and adventurous your baby will be.

-A nine-month old is curious about everything, but also has a very short attention span and will move rapidly from one activity to another. Two to three minutes may be the most your baby spends with a single toy.

-Toys that fascinate children most at this age are ordinary household objects such as wooden spoons, egg cartons and plastic containers of all shapes and sizes. Your baby will be especially interested in things that differ just a bit from what they already know. So if your baby is bored with the oatmeal box he/she has been playing with, you can renew their interest by putting a ball inside or turning it into a pull toy by tying a string to it. These small changes will help your baby to detect small differences between familiar and unfamiliar. When looking for toys, objects that are too much like what he/she has seen before will be dismissed and objects that are too foreign may be confusing or frightening. Look for objects and toys that gradually help your baby to expand their horizons.


DIET

- Eating is a learned behavior in which there is interplay between your baby' s physical capabilities and experience with food. You can reinforce a normal, healthy eating pattern through structure, social modeling, positive reinforcement and manageable foods. Eating and the introduction of new tastes, while messy, should be fun. Meals should provide opportunities for social interactions as well as nutrition.

-Sensory stimulation is critical to your baby's normal growth and development. Sensory stimulation covers a lot of areas from textured toys, colors of objects, and the foods offered at mealtimes. Your baby will respond to flavor (bitter, sweet, sour), color, temperature and texture. Free exploration during mealtimes will facilitate your baby's sensory learning.

-Your baby continues to grow rapidly. You may notice some food preferences, however, continue to offer foods that your baby initially rejects. Familiarity will encourage him/her to try again.

-As your baby moves to table foods, you may introduce pasta, pasta sauce, rice, steamed vegetables, small pieces of meat, and other finger foods. Continue to offer a broad variety of foods such as tomatoes, berries, citrus and spicier foods, such as chili, salsa, avocado and guacamole. Begin with a mild intensity and increase the flavor as your baby accepts the greater variety of flavors.

- You may introduce eggs and fish. Try white fish then shellfish. You may want to hold off on such fish as tuna or swordfish because of the potential for mercury.

- Foods such as berries and tomatoes may cause a local reaction on your baby' s hand and face. If it is limited to where the food touched your baby, is not a systemic reaction and may be offered again.

Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. This may cause tooth decay and ear infections.

-You may encourage your baby to drink from a cup. Babies should be weaned from a bottle by 12 to 15 months of age. Using a cup improves Your baby's hand- to-mouth coordination.

-Do NOT introduce honey until one year of age.

-As your baby approaches one year of age, you may consider introducing peanut butter as long as there is not a family history of nut allergies and your baby is adept at handling different textures of food.


SAFETY

-At this age, your baby has no concept of danger and only a limited memory of your warnings. By child-proofing your home, you will also give your baby a greater sense of freedom. After all, fewer areas will be off limits so that you can let him/her make new discoveries without your intervention or assistance. These personal accomplishments will promote your baby's emerging self-esteem.

- Every few months, you should check the house for dangerous areas. Cover electrical outlets, hide electric cords under the rugs and behind furniture, protect your baby from corners of table and radiators and hide the drawstrings of  blinds.

-You should place gates at stairwells and safety devices on windows and screens.

-As your baby begins to learn to pull up to a standing position, table-cloths and other objects on furniture may get accidentally pulled down.

The phone number for Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222. This number should be in a highly visible place.

- You should store Activated Charcoal at home and in your travel bag for ingestion of inappropriate medication.

- You should place sunscreen when going out, using sunscreen with SPF-30 or greater, and applied at least 15-30 minutes beforehand.

-Do not use products with DEETs (Di-Ethyl Toluamide) until at least 2 years of age.

-The car seat should face the rear until your baby is at least two years of age or until they reach the maximum height and weight limits recommended by the manufacturer. An infant-only seat should be placed in the back seat, ideally in the middle of the back seat. Infant-only car seats are usually designed with a 3 point or 5-point harness. The harness should always be placed in the slots and should always be at or below your baby' s shoulders. Most models have chest clips that hold the harness straps together. Move the clip so that it is level with your baby's armpits. All harness straps should fit snuggly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat and never twisted. If you can pinch any harness webbing between your fingers, it is too loose.

-The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children} system was designed to make installation easier because it does not require use of the car's seat belt. You should use LATCH only in seating positions recommended by both the vehicle manufacturer and the car seat manufacturer. Never use both the seat belt and LATCH to install a car seat, choose whichever method secures the car seat best.