Caring for Your 9-Month-Old
- As your baby’s personality is emerging, try to keep older siblings involved in a way that is helpful to you and helps them feel included in the attention the baby is receiving.
- Find ways to spend time alone with each child, and with your partner.
- Exclusively breast-fed infants require supplemental vitamin D (400 IU/day), which is available at most drug stores/supermarkets.
- Babies this age should nurse/feed three to four times during the day.
- Encourage, but never force, your baby to eat three meals a day, plus two snacks (usually mid-morning and mid-afternoon). Offer a cup (rather than a bottle) to your baby during mealtimes.
- Babies may not take to every new food that is introduced. It can take more than one try for your baby to gain a taste for some foods. Be patient and keep trying.
- Finger foods are popular at this age, as your baby is mastering a “pincer” grasp between the thumb and first finger of the hand. It may be a little messy at first, but your baby will learn to feed him/herself with practice.
- Try to encourage regular mealtimes for your baby, preferably together with the family.
- While most 9-month-olds have teeth, they are not the teeth used for chewing. Be sure that the food you offer is soft and precut in small pieces.
- Babies this age like to put everything in their mouths. Beware of foods that they are not ready for (nuts, raisins) that could present a choking hazard.
- Maintain a healthy diet for your child. Avoid giving juice, soda, tea, coffee and flavored drinks.
- With the addition of solid foods, your child’s stool may become thicker, less frequent and may change color. Daily soft stools are still normal. Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about the consistency or frequency of your child’s stooling.
- Never leave your baby alone during bath time, even if he or she is sitting in a bath ring.
- Routines are important regarding sleeping and feeding schedules. Try to make the time leading up to your child’s bedtime relaxing and predictable with a bath and a book.
- Babies this age are curious about their environment, and will touch and pull at everything in their reach. Instead of saying “no” when they touch something inappropriate, try to distract them. Say “that’s dangerous” or “ouch” and redirect their attention to a safer item.
- Never hit your baby.
- Babies may start teething at this age. Ensure that the water your baby is drinking contains fluoride. Use a baby toothbrush or washcloth to clean your baby’s teeth.
Growth and Development
- 9-month-olds smile, laugh and love social interaction. Talk to your baby, and prioritize face-to-face interaction. At this age, babies love to see themselves in a mirror.
- They also love to use their hands. At this age, babies can learn to wave “bye-bye,” play peek-a-boo, and will enjoy watching your hands move as you sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or play patty-cake.
- Because the hands master fine motor control before the mouth, some infants can learn simple sign language starting at this age.
- Read to your baby daily to promote language skills. Board books and soft books with pictures and nursery rhymes are good for reading and learning how to safely hold a book. You can point at and identify items pictured in the book. Follow your baby’s cues for “more” and “stop” instead of worrying about finishing the story. Even a short time reading every day has a strong influence on language and reading skills.
- Babies this age can still play in a stationary ExerSaucer® or Jolly Jumper®. Baby walkers with wheels are dangerous and not recommended.
- Never leave your baby unattended in a tub or on any high surfaces.
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Co-sleeping, sleeping with your baby, increases the risk for SIDS. Your baby should sleep in a crib with a firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Keep bumper pads, pillows, blankets, loose bedding and soft objects, like stuffed toys, out of the crib.
- Lower the crib mattress so that when your baby stands up, the crib railing will still provide a safe barrier.
- Babies learn to stand by pulling up and supporting themselves on surrounding items. Sometimes, these items can present danger. For instance, if a baby pulls on a tablecloth, any cup with hot liquid resting on the table can spill and present a burn risk. Likewise, a bookshelf or TV that is not secured to the wall can tip over and present an injury risk.
- Keep the living environment (including the car) smoke-free, and keep small items (choking hazards) and hot liquids (burn risks) away from the baby.
- All babies this age must ride in a rear-facing five-point harness car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
- Many babies this age can crawl or get around on their own. Block stairs with a door or gate to prevent falls. Cover electrical outlets and tuck away loose cords (lamps, TV).
- Babies this age will put just about everything in their mouths. Batteries (especially “button” type) and magnets pose great danger to children if swallowed. Keep these items out of your baby’s reach.
- Chemicals (like cleaning supplies) and medications can be tempting for little ones to explore. Be sure these are locked away, out of the baby’s reach. Call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
- Install safety guards on home windows, especially those on the second floor.
This document contains general parenting information based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and is not meant to replace the expert advice of your pediatrician.