Your Infant at Nine Months

Ages and Stages

Young Mother Feeding Baby Boy At Table
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While continuing to give 3 to 5 feedings of breast milk or an iron-fortified infant formula (24-32 ounces) and 4 or more tablespoons of cereal, vegetables and fruit one or two times each day, you can now start to give more protein containing foods. These include well-cooked, strained or ground plain meats (chicken, beef, turkey, veal, lamb, boneless fish, or liver), yogurt, mild cheese, or eggs. If using commercially prepared jars of baby food, do not use vegetables with meat as they have little meat and less protein and iron than jars with plain meat. Start with 1-2 tablespoons and increase to 3-4 tablespoons once each day. If your baby doesn't seem to like to eat plain meat, you can mix it with a vegetable that they already like as you offer it.

You can also start to offer soft table foods and finger foods at this age. Give soft, bite-size pieces of food, such as soft fruit and vegetable pieces, pastas, graham or saltine crackers, and dry cheerios, but do not give these foods if he is going to be unattended in case of choking. Over the next three months, your baby's diet will begin to resemble that of the rest of the families, with 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. You can also give 4-6 ounces of diluted 100% fruit juice in a cup, but don't need to, as many kids end up drinking too much juice.

To avoid having to supplement with fluoride, prepare powdered/concentrated formula with fluoridated tap water. If you are using ready-to-feed formula or bottled or filtered water only, then your child may need fluoride supplements.

Your infant will probably have given up middle of the night feedings by this age. If not, slowly reduce how much you are feeding each night and gradually stop this feeding all together.

Feeding practices to avoid are changing to regular milk before your child is twelve months old, putting the bottle in bed or propping the bottle while feeding, feeding honey, giving too much juice, using a low-iron formula, offering juice in a bottle or heating bottles in the microwave.

Infant Growth and Development

At this age, you can expect your infant to sit alone, pull to a stand, stand holding on to things, jabber and imitate sounds, crawl, wave bye-bye, and begin to show separation and stranger anxiety. Over the next few months, he will start to combine syllables, say mama/dada, walk with his hands held, and bang objects together.

Your infant will now begin to explore how things work, enjoy playing peekaboo and pat-a-cake and being read to. It is important to give lots of praise and many opportunities for exploration. If using a pacifier, it is a good time to start restricting its use to only when your baby is in his crib (or giving it up altogether), so that his interest in it will decrease.

Most infants at this age take two naps during the day (length of naps are usually very variable between different children, but naps are usually 1 - 2 hours each) and are able to sleep for the majority of the night. If not, check to make sure that he has a good bedtime routine and has developed the proper sleep associations. He may start waking again at times of stress, illness or after learning a new task (such as walking).

If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to move him into a full-size crib, in his own room if possible.


Accidents are the leading cause of death for children. Most of these deaths could easily be prevented and it is therefore very important to keep your child's safety in mind at all times. Here are some tips to keep your infant safe:

  • According to the latest car seat guidelines, you should use a rear facing infant or convertible car seat, and place it in the back seat until your baby is two years old or outgrows the rear-facing weight or height limits, and never place your baby in the front seat of a car with a passenger side airbag.
  • Make sure his crib is safe: have no more than 2 3/8 inches between the bars; the mattress should be firm and fit snuggly within the crib; place it away from windows and drafts; avoid placing fluffy blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows in the crib as they can cause smothering.
  • Make sure that used or hand-me-down equipment, such as car seats, strollers, and cribs, etc, haven't been recalled for safety reasons. Call the manufacturer or the Consumer Product Safety Commission for an up to date list of recalled products.
  • Set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees F to prevent scalding burns.
  • To prevent choking, never leave small objects or plastic bags in your baby's reach.
  • Back To Sleep: put your baby to sleep on his back (alternate positions) to reduce his risk of SIDS and never put him down alone on a waterbed, bean bag, or soft blanket that can cover his face and cause choking.
  • Prevent falls by not leaving your baby alone on a bed or changing table.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and use flame retardant sleepware.
  • Know signs and symptoms of illness: fever (call your pediatrician right away if your baby has a temp over 100.4 before he is 2-3 months old), decreased appetite, vomiting, irritability, and lethargy.

For more information on your infant's safety:

Taking Your Child to the Doctor

You will be making frequent visits to your pediatrician during the first year of your child's life so that his growth and development can be closely monitored. Remember to write down any questions you may have for your doctor before the visit so that you don't forget them.

At the nine month checkup, you can expect:

  • A complete physical exam, with special attention to his hips.
  • An examination of your infant's growth and development.
  • A review of feeding and sleep schedules.
  • Measurement of his height, weight and head circumference.
  • Counseling for injury prevention.
  • Immunizations: HepB (if the 3rd dose was not already given at the 6-month checkup.
  • Screening tests: blood level to check for anemia, screening questionnaire for lead poisoning risk.

The next check up with your pediatrician will be when your infant is twelve months old.

Common Infant Problems

  • Constipation: defined as the passage of hard, pellet-like stools that cause pain or bleeding (groaning or straining is normal) and not so much by how often your baby has a bowel movement (some breastfed babies only have one BM each week, although this is unusual by nine months when they are eating a lot of solid foods too). Initial treatment is by giving 2-4 ounces of water or diluted prune juice once or twice a day or by changing to a soy based formula if your baby is formula fed.
  • Stuffy Nose/Sneezing: very common and usually caused by irritation from dry air, smoke, or dust. Try to eliminate common irritants. You can try using a humidifier or salt water nose drops.
  • Thrush: white patches that coat the inside of the cheeks and tongue and cannot be easily wiped off. It is caused by a very mild yeast infection and is easily cleared up with a prescription medicine called Nystatin or Fluconazole.
  • Rashes: very common in older infants and includes eczema, drooling rashes, and heat rash.
  • Dry Skin: use a mild soap and a moisturizer once or twice a day.
  • Spitting Up: many babies spit up (reflux) after eating due to overfeeding or because the valve that closes the upper part of the stomach is immature. It is usually not a concern as long as your baby is gaining weight and it is not causing him to cough or choke. Some steps to take to improve this problem are feeding smaller amounts, more frequent burping during feeds, avoiding pressure on his belly or vigorous activity after eating. It improves with age, usually without treatment, and often by the time a child is 9 to 18 months old.
  • Watery Eyes: this is usually caused by a blocked tear duct and is not a concern unless the eyes become infected (let your Pediatrician know so that they can prescribe antibiotic eye drops). It usually clears up on its own before your baby is 9 to 12 months old.
  • Diaper Rashes: very common and usually clear up in 3-4 days with a diaper rash cream. If it is not clearing up or is bright red and surrounded by red dots, your baby may have a yeast infection and will need an antifungal cream to help clear it up. Diaper rashes can be prevented by frequent diaper changes, increasing air exposure by keeping the diaper off as much as possible and using a mild soap only after bowel movements (rinse with just warm water at other times).
  • Upper Respiratory Infections: these are very common and include symptoms of a clear or green runny nose and cough and are usually caused by cold viruses. The best treatment is to use salt water nasal drops and a bulb suctioner to keep their nose clear. Call your pediatrician if your child has a high fever, difficulty breathing, or is not improving in 7-10 days.
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