This month you may have a little chatterbox on your hands, or you may have a baby who is into EVERYTHING now that she can crawl.
Exciting developments are happening daily now that your baby is looking more and more like a toddler and revealing her personality for all to see.
Feeding and sleeping
At nine months old, babies need on average around 13-14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, including two naps per day – usually a shorter one in the morning and a longer one after lunch. You may also find her occasionally missing her morning snooze. Many nine-month-olds will sleep for eight or more hours without waking at night but around one in three babies will not have reached this stage just yet. Sleep regression is common around this time as your baby practices many of her newfound skills. Try not to worry, this is a phase and usually passes quickly.
Your baby will still need around three milk feeds per day, and this will be supplemented by solid foods at mealtimes. Variety is the spice of life for your little one’s diet – try to include a mixture of carbohydrates and protein, plus plenty of vegetables and one or two portions of fruit per day. Your baby’s ability to coordinate her hands and fingers to her mouth will be improving all the time and you may notice she is unwilling to let you feed her with a spoon, preferring to grab at it and feed herself. This is messy but important for her development and cutlery-wielding skills.
Your GP or health visitor will also be able to advise if you are worried about your baby’s feeding pattern and weight gain.
Your baby’s range of sounds and gestures will continue to expand as she works hard to say real words and develops speech patterns more in line with your own. Interestingly, babies tend to concentrate or walking or talking first, favouring one skill over the other, so do not be alarmed if your baby is not yet very chatty, she may be working on her mobility skills! Whatever stage of language development she is at, encourage your baby’s ‘chatter’ by responding to her and regularly chatting together.
At this age, babies understand a huge amount and will respond to commands such as ‘no’ and may soon grasp something more complex such as ‘please give me the spoon’. She may also assist you with everyday activities such as moving her arms to fit in a jumper rather than resisting.
The part of the brain responsible for memory is 40% developed by the time your baby is nine months old. She will take comfort from routine for certain parts of the day such as bedtime, encouraging her memory to make the next step, in this case, sleep!
Some nine-month-olds may also consistently offer up an excited clap or a wave to signal goodbye to nanny as she walks away.
Senses and physical development
Your baby is likely crawling and possibly pulling herself up to standing or walking holding onto furniture by now. If not, she may be showing signs that these developments are imminent. You can encourage these skills by holding her hands while she is bearing weight on her legs to encourage her to take steps, or by modelling behaviour, such as crawling around on all fours with her. If she is pulling herself up to standing already, you may need to support her to sit back down again to avoid any nasty falls. And now that she is becoming more mobile, watch out for anything small that she may be able to reach and pop in her mouth now that her pincer grip and hand-to-eye coordination are becoming increasingly fine-tuned.
Playing with your nine-month-old
Now is a good time to introduce push-along or ride-on toys to encourage your baby’s physical development. If she needs a little assistance with crawling, keep placing her favourite toys or sought-after household objects out of reach to encourage her to move towards them. Play tunnels to crawl through and pillows to climb over are also useful play items at this age.
Support your baby’s creative development with musical toys and some messy play, such as finger paints or spaghetti coloured with different food dye.
Toys which demonstrate cause and effect – the brain development concept responsible for her dropping food on the floor for you to pick up – such as levers, buttons and pull-along toys, will be very popular.
Continue to support your baby’s social and communication skills by mimicking the sounds she makes, demonstrating animal noises, pretend sneezes, and anything that makes your baby giggle. She will be learning a huge amount just by listening to you talk, even when she does not respond.
While the above indicates what you can expect to see your baby going this month, it is important to keep in mind that all babies are unique and will develop at their own pace. If you have any concerns about your baby’s development, talk to your doctor or health visitor.
Jen Dowding, Baby massage and baby yoga instructor, Basking Babies Laindon & Orsett