9 Month Old Baby Milestones
Your baby may have crawled to the dog’s food dish before, but by 9 months, be prepared for him to start dining on the kibble. The combination of your baby's locomotion and increasingly deft fingers means that you need to stay on guard more than ever. "They're checking everything out. They get themselves into mischief because of their curiosity," says Thomas M. Seman, M.D., a pediatrician and the president of North Shore Pediatrics in the Boston area. "They aren't always trying to create havoc, but they do anyway."
What to Expect in the Ninth Month
Around this age, babies can often sit without assistance, and they’re learning how to get from place to place. "This is special because it gives Baby one of his first tastes of independence," says Anne Zachry, Ph.D., a pediatric occupational therapist and author. "Having the ability to crawl away from her parents gives Baby a new sense of freedom."
Many babies crawl on their hands and knees by this point, but don’t worry if your baby avoids the classic crawl. According to Dr. Zachry, "Some babies scoot on their bottoms or pull themselves forward while dragging their belly against the floor. If your baby does this, don't be alarmed. The most important thing is that your baby finds a way to explore her surroundings."
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Those who started crawling earlier become more skilled with moving about. "As the weeks pass, you'll notice your baby exploring the environment with an increased sense of confidence,” Dr. Zachry says. “He’s likely able to move from sitting upright into a crawling position, and back into sitting with increasing ease, which is great for strengthening her trunk and improving flexibility."
What’s more, your baby will probably start examining whatever he finds along the way, thanks to improved fine motor skills. "They've discovered their fingertips, so they're doing a lot of pincer grasp," Dr. Seman says. "Whereas at 6 months they grab everything with their whole fist and palm it, now they have the dexterity to select something."
In addition to using the pincer grasp, which involves using the tips of the thumb and index finger, babies might begin pointing and using both hands together. "Babies at this age often enjoy banging objects together during play," Dr. Zachry says.
How to Help Baby Development
"Limit your baby's time in plastic containers, such as stationary play centers, swings, and bouncer seats," Dr. Zachry says. "Your little one should have plenty of floor time to strengthen the muscles needed for crawling, pulling up, and walking." Imitation games can be fun for both of you. "Shake a rattle, bang on a drum, or clap your hands and encourage your baby to imitate you," Dr. Zachry suggests.
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Babies this age love to manipulate things with their hands, exploring the weight and feel of items around them. "Give them textures, different shapes, different sizes," Dr. Seman says. "Obviously the smaller the size, the more you have to monitor them."
Let your doctor know if your baby doesn't want to explore her surroundings. "Babies should want to get into mischief,” says Dr. Seman says. "And if they're grabbing and reaching for things and totally miss it, you wonder if there's a vision difficulty."