Despite the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers and the constant mess, being a new mom is much more fun than being pregnant, don’t you think?
Now that your baby is closing in on completing their first full trip around the sun, you’re going to see a lot of 9-month-old baby milestones flying by. This month you’ll be back to the pediatrician for a checkup, but there’s good news: on a typical vaccine schedule, there are no shots at the 9-month appointments. That’s something that both mom and baby can celebrate together! Here’s what else you should know about your newly-minted 9-month-old.
Hey Mama, You have a 9-Month-Old!
It’s hard to imagine that nine months ago, you had a newborn that did little more than eat, sleep, and poop. By nine months, your baby has transformed: they’re likely moving around, playing peek-a-boo, waving goodbye, and calling out for you. This whole parenting gig is getting pretty fun, right?
Your baby continues to learn more about the world around him. For example, they understand that things fall when they let them go. And boy, is that an exciting discovery. You might find yourself picking up your baby’s spoon again and again during meal times just to have them throw it from their high chair. As you bend down for the umpteenth time, just remind yourself that this is all part of a baby-sized science experiment.
Your baby’s language and communication skills are continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. By 9 months, they understand verbal and non-verbal communications. When you point, baby should look at an object. They might even start pointing too, telling you exactly what they want. They should respond to their name and to familiar faces as well.
Soon, your baby will be spending more time on their feet. By now, they’ve perfected sitting and are probably crawling around a bit, but you’ll notice that they’re more and more comfortable pulling up to a standing position and maybe even taking steps while holding onto your hands or a walker.
When babies first start standing their posture is downright weird: their bellies and bums stick out, and they might look duck-footed, with legs or feet turned outward. That’s all entirely normal. Your baby’s posture will change over time, but for now that odd stance will contribute to the adorable toddling that we all love.
9-Month-Old Baby Milestones
At 9 months, your baby is achieving tons of new milestones around physical, mental, and social-emotional development. It can be hard to keep up, but here are a few important developments to look for in your 9-month-old baby:
• Says “mama” and “dada”
• Pulls to standing and cruises on their feet, with support.
• Uses the pincer grasp, grasping objects with the pad of the thumb and index finger
• Waves and claps
• Moves items between hands and to mouth
• Understands no
• Has “stranger danger,” but is clingy to their favorite people
Sharpening Those Motor Skills
At 9 months, your baby is getting more and more control over their body. You’ll notice that they’re moving more efficiently and better able to control their toys. It’s common for babies to learn to clap or to enjoy banging toys together with one in each hand. Now is a perfect time to introduce your baby to different sounds by allowing them to bang together blocks, rattles, spoons any anything else you have lying around the house.
Your baby is also getting more comfortable with different movements. They might crawl to a favorite toy, sit down to examine it, and then pull up on the coffee table and cruise over to where you’re sitting to give you a look. It can be nerve-wracking to watch your baby cruising around confidently, but try not to worry too much—your baby has innate reflexes to protect them from tumble and falls. For example, they’ll reach out their hands to protect their head from hitting the floor, something known as the parachute reflex.
Mama’s Little Crab: Pincer Grasp
Your baby has likely become an expert at grabbing what they want. This month, they’ll make a major leap in their fine-motor skills when they begin using the pincer grasp. The pincer grasp involves using the pads (top portion) of the thumb and index finger to pinch something and pick it up, much like a crab pinch, or making the “ok” sign.
This might seem minor, but the pincer grasp is an important developmental milestone for 9-month-olds. It shows that your child’s brain, muscles, and fine-motor skills are all developing strongly and are coordinated enough to work together. Right now, your baby will use the pincer grasp to pick up small items like Cheerios or anything left on the floor that you would rather they didn’t eat. But eventually, this skill set will be the foundation for critical skills like holding a pencil and learning to write.
If your baby still isn’t using a pincer grasp by the end of the month, don’t fret. Some babies take longer to develop this skill. Playing with blocks, eating small treats like cereal, and even turning the pages of a book can all help your baby develop their pincer grasp.
Your New Normal with a 9-Month-Old Baby
Life is seeming a lot busier these days. You might feel more like you’re parenting a toddler than a baby. Suddenly, phrases like “no,” “stop,” and “don’t touch that” are coming out of your month constantly. No worries through — 9-month-olds can be a lot of work to keep up with! At this point, your baby will continue transitioning from their infant schedule to more of a toddler routine. Babies will begin noticing their daily routines at this age, so having a predictable schedule is comforting to them…and you.
How Much Should a 9-Month-Old Eat?
Your 9-month-old still relies on milk for most of his nutrition. Babies should drink breastmilk or formula 3-5 times a day at this age, taking in 30-32 ounces. If your baby drinks a bit more or less, that’s ok too. Nine months is a great time to start introducing sippy cups with a small amount of breastmilk or formula (water is ok, but skip juice). Finding a cup that you and your baby both like can be a challenge, so stay patient.
Your baby should be eating most food groups: fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, starches and grains. Continue to feed your baby different tastes and textures to encourage them to try a variety of foods.
How Much Should a 9-Month-Old Sleep?
At 9 months old, your baby should be sleeping for 14 hours total each day. More of that sleep — roughly 11 hours — should be at night time, as daytime naps shorten. Most babies at this age are still taking a morning and afternoon nap, but as you get closer to the year mark, your baby might start only taking one nap.
As always, sleep varies a lot. Some babies might sleep up to 16 hours a day at this point, while others only need 12 hours of sleep. Following your baby’s cues and maintaining a routine and a quiet, calm sleeping environment can help encourage more sleep.
How Much Should a 9-Month-Old weigh?
Your baby’s rapid weight gain will begin to slow down a bit as she gets older. You can expect them to gain about one pound this month. The average weight for a 9-month-old baby boy is 19.6 pounds, with the average 9-month-old girl weighing just over 18 pounds, according to the World Health Organization.
Dealing with Separation Anxiety
By 9 months, babies have a good idea what’s happening in the world and what they want. If babies ran the world, most of them would choose to be with mom 24/7. But the reality is that many mothers have returned to work by this point, and even stay-at-home mamas need a break sometimes.
It’s entirely normal for your baby to cry when you leave, even if he’s staying with someone he knows and loves like daddy or grandma. Remember that crying is ok, and your baby will quickly recover once you’re out of sight. Usually, it’s best to keep this transition time short and sweet, rather than fussing over or comforting baby — that will just send them mixed messages about whether you’re leaving. If your little one is having a particularly hard time being away from you, they might get some comfort from a lovey, like a favorite blanket, book, or stuffed animal.
Separation anxiety is hard on everyone, but it’s expected. It shows your baby has a health attachment to you, and that you’re doing a great job as a mom—even when you need to get away for a few minutes.