Your 9-Month-Old Baby’s Development

Major milestones and everyday tips for your baby at 9 months old

You are closely approaching the toddler stage with your little one and at 9 months, your baby will be full of exciting developments that seems to happen more every day. During this month, your infant might be crawling, waving “bye-bye,” and moving well into his eating journey with new solids, tastes, and textures. Read on for more of what you can expect from your 9-month-old.

9-month old baby milestones and development
 Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell

Your Growing Baby

At 9 months old, your baby will still be rocking the typical “baby” look, with a large head, short, chubby arms and legs, and an adorable pot belly. However, as babies start to become mobile and test their skills standing and walking, they will lose some of that extra chub and replace it with more lean muscle. At 9 months old, your baby will have, on average:

  • Added about 10 inches in length since birth.
  • Displayed 0.25–0.5 inches per month of head growth.
  • Have a slower rate of weight gain, but may be reaching tripling their birth weight.

Developmental Milestones

Okay, parents, brace yourselves: at nine months, your baby is technically closer to being classified as a toddler than an infant. We know—this might be the fastest year of your life! But as soon as your little one starts toddling around on those first few steps, he or she will make the leap into official toddlerhood. As that transition happens, your baby will lose their newborn reflexes and actively gain more fine gross motor skills. Here are some of the physical and mental developments you can look for this month.

Body

  • Moves from the stomach to a seated position
  • Pulls up to a standing position from the floor, using furniture
  • Creeps or crawls on the ground
  • Some babies may have unique crawling styles, such as scooting with one leg
  • Cruises furniture by walking
  • Stands up unassisted
  • Walking and/or taking steps
  • Points or goes for items that they want
  • Grabs finger foods and feeding herself
  • Babbles
  • Imitates words
  • Waves “bye-bye”
  • Starts to say simple words like “Ma” and “Da”
  • Butt scooching
  • Rolls from back-to-front and front-to-back

Brain

  • Can see colors well now
  • Develops specific preferences for tastes and may have favorite and not-so-favorite foods
  • Shows curiosity
  • Explores how things work
  • May express separation anxiety
  • Remembers where certain items in the house are—no more tricking them by "hiding" items out of sight
  • Plays, such as rolling a ball back and forth
  • Loves opening and closing things

When to Be Concerned

At this age, many parents might be focused on the “big” milestone of crawling, but it’s important to remember that all babies develop at different rates, and if your baby isn’t crawling yet, that’s okay. Some babies may not crawl yet and some babies, especially if they are held a lot, may even skip crawling altogether and go straight to walking. It’s also important to note that all babies have different crawling styles and your little one may display some interesting moves while crawling, such as “scooting” or crawling with one leg up. If you have any concerns about how your baby is crawling or your baby’s crawling development, be sure to talk to your doctor.

A Day in the Life

Babies at this age love to “play,” so it’s important to offer plenty of interaction, from reading books out loud together to playing peek-a-boo to giving your baby toys that will boost their development and education. Your daily routine will consist of morning wake-up, a morning nap, lunch, an afternoon nap, a snack, playtime and dinner, and a bedtime of around 7 p.m. for most 9-month-olds. Remember that a consistent routine will help your little one get better sleep at night and during nap times.

Baby Care Basics

At 9 months old, you may want to consider starting the process of weaning your baby off of a pacifier or at least decreasing the use of it during the day. Many babies who love their pacifier will most likely put up a pretty good fight over letting it go, so it may be helpful to start the process slowly, rather than just cold-turkey.

For instance, you could only allow your infant to use a pacifier during naps or at bedtime to soothe him to sleep and put the pacifier out of sight during the day. As your baby gets more teeth in, the pacifier may interfere with proper tooth development, so it is important to consider weaning from the pacifier earlier rather than later.

Feeding & Nutrition

Nutrition Needs

Between 8 months and one year of age, your baby needs 750–900 calories a day. Half of that—about 450 of those calories—should come from breast milk. That equals approximately 24 ounces (720 milliliters) of breast milk each day. Your child can get what they need by continuing to breastfeed from the breast, drinking formula, or taking breast milk in a bottle throughout the day.

If you are breastfeeding, you can also nurse your child for non-nutritive reasons as well. At this age, your little one may find comfort in nursing, so you can breastfeed your child for comfort when they're scared, upset, or hurt.

One of the biggest transitions that happens as your baby gets older is the order you offer breastmilk and food. In the past, you may have offered your baby breast milk or formula first and then baby food, but at 9 months old, you can give solid foods first and then breastfeed after. And while you technically do not have to give your child any water before one year of age, especially if you are still breastfeeding, at 9 months, you can offer your child small sips of water. If your child is eating a lot of solids, the water may be helpful to clear their mouth or help hydrate if you happen to live in a warmer climate.

Sample Schedule

When your child is between 8 and 12 months old, you can breastfeed or offer them a bottle in the morning, before naps, after snacks and meals, and at bedtime. To help guide you in feeding your little one, here is a sample schedule for a 9-month-old:

Wake Up

  • Breastfeed or offer 4–6 ounces (120–180 milliliters) of breast milk or formula in a cup or bottle

Morning Meal

  • 2 ounces (60 milliliters) of cereal
  • 2 ounces of fruit
  • Breastfeed or 4–6 ounces of breast milk

Mid-Morning Snack

  • 2 ounces of fruit or vegetables
  • Finger foods
  • Offer water in a sippy cup

Afternoon Meal

  • 2 ounces of yogurt, meat, or cheese
  • 2 ounces of vegetables
  • Breastfeed or 4–6 ounces of breast milk

Mid-Afternoon Snack

  • 2 ounces of fruit or vegetables
  • Finger foods
  • Water in a sippy cup

Evening Meal

  • 2 ounces of protein, such as chicken or meat
  • 2 ounces of vegetables
  • 2 ounces of fruit
  • 2 ounces of starch, such as pasta, rice, or potatoes
  • 4–6 ounces of breast milk

Bedtime

  • Breastfeed or 6–8 ounces of breast milk

Breastfeeding Tips

At 9 months old, it is common for infants to be more distracted while breastfeeding as they become more active and curious about the world around them. Don’t be discouraged by this. Instead, try to minimize distractions during nursing and be patient with your little one as they learn to nurse, even with all the wonderful things to see around them. Try these tips:

  • Nurse in a cool, quiet environment, with darkened lights if possible
  • Use a nursing cover if your baby tolerates it to minimize distractions
  • Gently tell your baby “no” if they try to take your nipple with them as they turn their head to look around

Introducing New Foods

As your child grows, they'll be trying lots of different foods. Here are some tips and recommendations for the process:

  • Give your child small, frequent feedings: Infants have little bellies, so it's best to feed them small amounts of food throughout the day.
  • Don’t force your child to eat: Babies tend to be inconsistent about eating. One day they will eat finger foods and pureed foods willingly, but the next day they may refuse any solid food and opt for the breast or a bottle instead.
  • Offer a variety of safe finger foods: Finger foods make great snacks. By eight months, your baby can use the thumb and forefinger to pick up small pieces of food. Encourage self-feeding by providing different finger foods for your baby to try such as Cheerios, small pieces of bread, or cut-up cooked chicken, vegetables, or pasta. Even with foods that are safe for infants and toddlers, you should always stay close and watch for signs of choking.
  • Give the spoon a try: Begin using a spoon to feed your baby and help them to feed themselves. At first, they are more likely to play with the spoon or throw it. But eventually, they will use it to eat, even if it's after the 1-year mark.
  • Use a sippy cup: At this age, many infants can begin to hold and practice drinking water, breast milk, or infant formula from a sippy cup.
  • Introduce foods with different textures: Your baby can now chew, so you can start to add foods that have different textures. Cut-up table foods and soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, pudding, yogurt, jello, and eggs, are good choices.
  • Start new foods slowly: Continue to introduce new foods one at a time every few days. Watch for signs of a food allergy, which can include a rash, diarrhea, gassiness, spitting up, and vomiting.
  • Keep an eye out for constipation: Cereal and bananas are popular foods that babies eat at this age, but they can lead to constipation. If your child starts to have difficulty with bowel movements, try adding prunes or other fruits and limit some of the more binding foods for a while.

Sleep

By 9 months old, most babies are sleeping through the night and taking two to three naps during the day that last one to two hours each. If your little one is sleeping well through the night, factors such as illnesses, teething, and growth spurts may cause temporary disturbances in sleep. Don’t get discouraged if your baby goes through some temporary sleep problems, but be consistent in bedtime routines by:

  • Putting them to sleep awake or a little drowsy
  • Avoiding letting them nurse or feed to sleep
  • Using a fan or white noise machine before laying your baby down or performing a sleep ritual, such as an infant massage

If you haven’t moved your baby already, 9 months is an appropriate age to transition your baby into a full-sized crib in their own room as well. Many families find that if their little one is having difficulty sleeping through the night, moving them to their own room can make a big difference in helping their baby sleep better.

Recommended Safe Sleep Guidelines for Babies

Health & Safety

Your baby will receive their 9-month well-child check-up this month. Along with typical physical check-ups and weight, length, and head circumference measurements, the 9-month visit will include:

  • Immunizations: Hepatitis B (if the third dose was not already given at the 6-month checkup
  • Screening tests: Blood level to check for anemia, screening questionnaire for lead poisoning risk

Although your baby is growing and developing more and may express frustration during car rides, it is still extremely important that you keep your infant rear-facing in their car seat as long as possible. At 9 months old, your infant should be in a rear-facing 5-point harness car seat that is appropriate for their weight and height.

If your little one is crawling or has been crawling for some time, you will also want to make sure your house is properly baby-proofed with things like:

  • Outlet covers
  • No window blind cords
  • Baby gates covering any stairs or areas your baby should not get into
  • No small objects in reach of little hands
  • All laundry detergent, especially pods, put away
  • Locks on kitchen cupboards, toilets, and any cabinets that contain hazardous materials
  • All medications put safely out of reach and locked
  • If you have a gun in the house, make sure it is properly locked up, out of view, and stored separately from ammunition

Must Knows

This the 9-month-old mark, keep the following in mind:

  • Encourage exploration: Your little one will be showing all kinds of personality traits, from stubbornness to happiness to determination. At this age, your baby is learning about the world around them and about themselves through exploration, so give your child ample opportunity to let that personality shine. You might set up a safe place in your living room or outside for your baby to explore to their heart's content, or put out some favorite toys for them to "discover."
  • Learn to say no: Your baby can understand "no," even at this young of an age. And while they may not completely understand the language in words just yet, your little one will certainly pick up on your overall body language and your facial expression when saying so. Don't be afraid to voice the word if your baby is coming near something that could hurt them. The hard parts of parenting—discipline—might already be starting!
  • Wear your baby: As your little one becomes more and more active, it might be harder to get activities done around the house, such as cleaning or computer work. If your little one will tolerate it, you can still wear your baby in a carrier so you can get these basic tasks done. Most babies still love being close to you at this age and it helps you to know exactly where they are—staying out of trouble, preferably!
    Your 10-Month-Old Baby’s Development & Milestones
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    Article Sources
    • Dosman, C. F., Andrews, D., & Goulden, K. J. (2012). Evidence-based milestone ages as a framework for developmental surveillance. Paediatrics & Child Health,17(10), 561–568. DOI: 10.1093/pch/17.10.561.

    • American Academy of Pediatrics (2018). Ages and stages: Baby. HealthyChildren.org.

    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Milestone: 9 months.