Understanding Baby's Body Language

9 - 12 Months

At about 9 months, most babies experience a burst of cognitive growth. As mobility and hand-eye coordination improve, clear and communicative gestures will start to become second nature to your child. He'll easily demonstrate his wants and needs, likes and dislikes. "A baby may greet a familiar face with outstretched hands or cling tightly to his mother or father as stranger anxieties begin to emerge," Dr. Marino says.

For example, when 1-year-old Andrew Taylor, of Folsom, California, is hungry, he crawls over and thumps on the kitchen bread drawer, says his mother, Julie. "When he's thirsty, he stands in front of the refrigerator." Your child may also start to pair his signals with a variety of sounds. If he wants to be held, for example, he may lift up his arms and say, "Muh muh." If he wants his bottle, he may point to it and say, "Bah bah."

Before long, however, your child's body language will be replaced with simple words, phrases, and sentences. You can only hope that these first forays into verbal communication are as easy to decipher.

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