So your baby has reached 9 months old! She is officially passing from infancy into early childhood. Nine months is such a big milestone in itself it is almost worth having a party to celebrate. Both you and your baby have achieved a lot already, but you can’t slow down now. At least you should be getting some sleep to fuel the days of discovery with your fantastic little friend.
9 Month Well Child Visit
It’s time for your next scheduled well-baby visit. This gives you an opportunity to ask your pediatrician’s advice on any development or behavior that is worrying you, and for your baby to have a thorough physical exam.
You may be given a questionnaire to fill out before your visit to help you to think about anything you want to talk about or ask. This visit is for both you and your baby, and you will also be asked about your home and family.
The pre-check questionnaire includes questions about:
- Any changes in your family situation
- Whether you are getting enough “me time” and time with your partner
- Support from your family and friends
- Any concerns you have about your baby’s development or growth
- Baby safety
- Hearing, vision and oral health
- Risk of lead exposure from works to older buildings
Try to read through the questionnaire a few days before your visit to help you remember anything you want to ask about or have concerns about. Your paediatrician will see many 9 month old babies every week, and will be able to advise and reassure you on any point that concerns you.
Further examination and jabs
During the visit your pediatrician will weigh and measure your baby and examine every part of her. He or she will:
- Feel her head and fontanels (soft spots)
- Listen to her heart and lungs with a stethoscope
- Look in her ears and check that she responds to sounds
- Check her eyes and that she responds to light and movement
- Bend and stretch her legs and check for smooth hip movement
- Check genitalia
- For boys check that both testes have descended into the scrotum, and if circumcised that the scar is healing well.
This is a good opportunity to catch up on any immunisations which may have been missed. If your visit is in the fall you will probably be offered a flu jab for your baby. She will need two jabs, one month apart in the fall or winter after she turns 6 months. As with other immunisations, she may have a sore spot at the injection site, and be a little cranky or run a temperature for a couple of days afterwards.
Developmental milestones at 9 months
Your baby will be reaching new movement milestones this month. She will probably be able to pull herself to a standing position sometime this month, and will be grabbing at any dangling cloths or cords, so be extra alert to hot drinks and other heavy or dangerous articles placed on table cloths. Also keep electrical cables out of sight and reach.
Taking baby steps
By the end of this month she should be able to stand whilst holding onto you, or something sturdy like a chair. She may begin trying to walk whilst holding on to furniture, known as cruising. You will need to be watching, and ready to catch her, and keep an eye on hard corners she might bump her head on as she wobbles and lets go.
Now be ready to video her very first steps, or stumbles. They could come any time. If she is already lifting and putting down her feet as she stands, you can encourage her by sitting in front of her and holding her hands out in front to help her move forward. There is no rush though, and it is early days.
No doubt you have been looking at all those cute little baby shoes for months, if not longer, but don’t rush into buying any just yet. Standing in bare feet is good for developing a healthy grip and posture. If you are in a communal play area or outside you can put grippy socks on.
She will not have given up on crawling, and now it should come easily, even confidently crawling on three limbs while holding a toy. She may be ready to practice climbing steps. If you are right there with her it is good to let her practice going up, which is easier than coming down. Be very sure to have your stairgate closed at all times, as she will want to practice when it suits her.
Language and Social Development
More and more of the constant babble you hear will sound like real words, as she joins up sounds in ways that match what she is hearing. She will certainly be understanding a lot of words that she cannot yet say. Look out for the first time she says Mama or Dada about the correct person, and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling of love you get from it. This is one of those beautiful moments of being a parent.
If you haven’t already, now is a great time to join a playgroup. Your child will get the benefit of new toys and surroundings but with you right there beside her. She may still be suffering from stranger anxiety, but a playgroup setting will not force her to interact with anyone else, only be near them, which will help her to feel secure around others, especially people her own size and a little bigger. She is no longer a delicate little baby, but can still sit in the baby area when she wants to be cuddled or read to.
Your baby learns from everyone around her
You are used to your baby learning by copying you. When she sees people just like herself doing things she has never done before she will be inspired to copy them too, and will very quickly develop new skills. There is usually a song time at playgroup, and this gives a safe way to be together with other children and be part of a group. Finally, you can meet other moms and have real grown-up conversations while you watch your children getting on with the business of playing.
Games a 9 month old will enjoy and learn from include passing toys to you and then having them passed back. Roll a ball to her as she sits, and then ask for it back.
She will like banging things together. Lay out a pan set upside down and let her make some noise!
Play tickle games, and let her anticipate the tickle. You can have hours of free fun, and her laughter is infectious.
Play This Little Piggy went to Market, and Round and Round the Garden. Laugh together as the littlest piggy squeals all the way home, or you tickle her under there. This is the pure joy of childhood.
Sing songs that have movements. Head Shoulders Knees and Toes is great fun, and a great teaching tool too. You will both be tired after all that bending and stretching.
Finally, she will like to fill buckets and boxes. Could this be the start of the great tidying up game?