Your Baby's Development: Month Nine
At the age of 9 months, around half of all children can pull themselves up to a standing position when holding on to a static item of furniture such as the side of their cot, a low table or a chair.
A number of children also learn to crawl around this time. The age at which a baby learns to crawl is linked to the amount of time a baby has spent on their tummy, and it is thought that babies today crawl later than babies of previous generations because parents are advised to lay their babies on their backs to sleep now rather than their tummies. Don't worry if your child doesn't crawl until later, some children skip out the crawling stage altogether and go straight into walking!
Your baby's long-range vision is much better now, enabling her to see and identify a person or an object across a room - this might be a big motivator for getting moving!
Social and Emotional Development
You may start to find now (or in coming months) that your baby shows clear signs of being uncomfortable when approached by a stranger - clinging tightly to you or crying if the stranger tries to engage with them. It can be embarrassing sometimes - often these are friends or relatives who have come round to see the baby, but it is totally normal. Show the baby that you are comfortable with this other person and give them plenty of time to get used to whoever it is. Forcing your child into the arms of someone that they don't want to be with will not help them, it will only upset them further and make future introductions to new people even harder. On the other hand, allowing your baby to cling to you like a baby monkey for the whole time you have visitors, carrying them to and from the kitchen as you get drinks and taking them with you to the bathroom won't encourage them to get over their anxiety either. Sit your baby on your lap facing the room if possible and try to divert the attention of your guests away from them to start with. Then find the baby a distraction, a toy that they like or a snack, and gradually encourage them off your lap where both you and your friend can engage with them. The key to building your baby's confidence is to take things slowly, rushing them into things is likely to result in tears.
At the age of 9 months your little one may well be able to wave bye-bye to people - although the action is often a bit delayed, lots of babies start to wave once the person has left and is out of sight! You will hear other parents say 'He probably will wave at you - after you've gone!' Your baby will get the hang of when to wave soon enough.
Your little one will enjoy taking turns to make noises or do actions with you more than ever by 9 months - e.g. blowing raspberries, shaking their head, saying 'bah' etc. They may now be able to join in with part of the actions to rhymes and songs that they are familiar with, such as Row your boat. For Head, shoulders, knees and toes they might put their hands on their head for the whole song, and over coming weeks and months learn to add in a few other body parts one at a time! Remember that babies love repetition, and the more they hear a song and see the actions, the faster they will learn it, so get singing!
Is your baby starting to demonstrate some frustrating behaviour? Try to keep calm with your little one when they're repeatedly dropping their food off the edge of their high chair tray, or their toy out of their buggy, they are probably just interested in the nature of gravity. Telling them 'No' all the time might actually be a reaction they enjoy provoking, so instead, ignore this behaviour and distract them from it if you can. Make time for that same experiment later, in a more suitable environment such as the bath. The bath is a great place for demonstrating how things fall, empty or splash.
When it comes to teaching your child not to do something, remember that babies much prefer getting a response from you than being ignored, so you will have more success by praising their good behaviour and ignoring their bad behaviour. But remember that the process of setting boundaries and teaching them to your child is a long one, nobody has a 9 month old child who understands right from wrong, curiosity drives most of their decisions and an inquisitive nature is a good thing!
Speech and Communication
Around this age your baby might start to say 'mama' or 'dada' at random - although probably at no particular person. This isn't to say that they don't know who 'mama' or 'dada' is; they may know what they are saying but may not have yet made the jump to understating that they can say it to you or when they want you.
Games such as peekaboo teach babies the concept of object permanence - the notion that an object is still 'there' even if you cannot see it when it is concealed. Take the basic version on a step further by hiding a noisy object beneath a towel or muslin, and then revealing that it is there by setting off its noise. For example, hide a rattle and shake it under the towel, or squeeze a squeaky toy - hearing the noise (particularly if they are familiar with the toy and it's sound) will delight your baby and help them to understand that you can still hear something even when you can't see it.
Be Careful Of...
...Bumps and bruises! Your little explorer is on the move, with poor balance and little spatial awareness. They want to put everything and anything in their mouth and will be eager to poke fingers into any little hole they come across. The best way to make your home 'baby safe' is to get down on your hands and knees and look at each room from their perspective. Remove choking hazards and cover electric sockets, fires and sharp corners. Check for anything that 'hangs' that they can pull on - for example a table cloth. There is no need to remove your coffee table from the living room, but once they learn to crawl, supervise them when they go underneath it and help them to learn how to do it safely. You should never leave your child unattended in a room where they might hurt themselves, particularly if there are any steps (even one) that they might fall down. However, it is wise to teach your baby how to come down a step (or off a bed or sofa) safely, and the best way to do this is to teach them to turn around and come down feet first on their tummy. Every time your child reaches the edge of a step, or the bed, turn them round and slide them down on their tummy - use a clear set of instructions as you do it, get into the habit of making them do it at every opportunity so that it becomes naturally to them. In time they will learn to follow your instructions without you having to turn them yourself. You should never leave them on their own where there are steps or drops, but it is still sensible to teach them to do this on their own safely anyway.