Your Baby's Intellectual Development: Month 9

It's hard to believe that your little one has been out in the world as long as he was in your belly -- and that he has acquired so many skills. Read on to learn what you can look forward to this month.

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Baby may master the pincer grasp this month and enjoy showing off her new finger dexterity at the dinner table. She may also explore the relationship between objects, understand more words that you say or read to her, and enjoy playing hide and seek. Here's a look at more that might be happening on the intellectual front this month.

What to expect: Baby's style of play may start to give you insight into her personality. Does she become absorbed in tasks or is she easily distracted? Does she thrive on repetition or does she seem to prefer the unexpected? Picking up on your baby's likes and dislikes can help you plan for activities that will be more enjoyable to her.

At 9 months, baby is now capable of remembering recent events and may show excitement if you repeat a song or game that was fun the day before. Your little one can also respond to cue words once you start associating them with actions regularly. The concept of object permanence emerges this month as your baby starts to realize that an object doesn't disappear when it's out of sight.

In addition, "Clapping, waving, and pointing are just a few more of the new tricks little ones do at this age," says Michele Borba, Ed.D., a Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. "They are signs of your baby's growing relationships with the world around her, as well as building blocks to language development. After all, waving bye-bye, pointing to objects, and clapping in excitement are all ways that your baby is showing you she can communicate with you -- and others!" she explains.

Progression: Baby may babble and jabber, with occasional bursts of more coherent words or sounds. He may also start to use more body language to try to get his point across -- if your little guy is pulling at your pants or is reaching his arms up, he likely wants to be picked up. He might also start to recognize names of animals and objects and try imitating you more often.

How to help: Try to stick with a routine so that Baby knows generally what to expect each day, but vary the activities within each playtime to keep him stimulated. Talk to your baby, narrating what's about to happen or what's currently happening, so that you can start to get into the habit of setting his expectations for what's ahead (which can help prevent tantrums down the road). Narrating is key to helping your baby develop language skills. Be patient if he starts to show signs of jealousy, whether it has to do with your attention to him or with or another child playing with a favorite toy.

Don't freak out if: Between eating solids, getting new teeth, and becoming more mobile, Baby might have some off days here and there. It's okay. Each baby is unique and your baby is learning a lot about the world this month -- you'd be a little worn out, too! If baby's isn't waving or clapping yet, try to practice with her by demonstrating the motions. Ask your care provider at your 9-month checkup for other ways to help with these communication skills.

When you should you worry: If baby isn't babbling or showing interest in the world around her, check in with your pediatrician.

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