Nine months

Down time, catching up to myself - To be honest, the title is not exactly accurate. There is no down time during the first year. However, 9 months is typically a time to consolidate the skills learned in the previous three months. By this time each baby is so different that the milestones need to be taken with a grain of salt. The sequence is a little more important but even there, one baby will go in one order and another will develop in a different order. Some babies are “experimenters”. They will try part of a new skill, than add another part. They will stand at the couch and lift one hand a little off the couch, then a little more, then the other hand and after several weeks practicing, will stand alone. Others are “observers”. They will watch but not make any attempt at a new skill, for example, creeping on all fours, and just when you think they may not learn, they will get up on their hands and knees and head down the hall and never look back. Some babies will be almost walking by this time and others are not even sitting. Those who are behind in motor skills may be way ahead in hand skills or speaking. So while I will post lists of milestones for the next 3 months, you must keep in mind that your baby is unique and the activities you choose need to be ones that work for your baby. 

MILESTONES (Milestones are averages and, at best, rough guidelines. Half of babies will achieve milestones earlier than noted and half will reach them later. As babies get older, they become more diverse in their development and milestones become less reliable. )

How your 9 month old moves:
1. Baby can sit for a long time and can turn self around when sitting.
2. Can usually get from tummy or back to sitting
3. Starts standing at the furniture, may not be able to get down without falling.
4. May step sideways while holding on to the couch or the coffee table (cruising).
5. Creeps on hands and knees, may get around quite quickly this way.
6. May crawl upstairs.  (probably unable to get down so for a short period much care needs to be taken near stairs.)
7. May be able to crawl with something in one hand.

How your 9 month old uses hands:
1. Can clap hands together at midline of body.
2. Can use thumb and index finger to pick up small objects the size of a raisin ( most will probably go into the mouth so practice this with things that can be eaten, like cereals)
3. You may see the beginnings of hand preference from this age. 
4. Will hold an object in each hand and try to experiment with them together, banging them together, looking at them, putting one into the other etc. 

Your 9 month old’s senses
1. Understands by looking that something is deep and may show fear at heights, or hesitation to get down from furniture. 
2. Also begins to understand size by looking and will open hand to the right size to pick up objects as the hand approaches.
3. Balance in sitting is developing. If baby starts to fall towards one side, she will lift the leg and extend the arm and lean her trunk to the opposite side to rebalance herself. 
4. Back to front balance reactions come after side to side is fairly secure. 
5. Balance on hands and knees is also developing.

Thinking and learning
1. Around 9 months, babies understand that objects still exist, even if they are out of sight. They will watch a cover where an object has been hidden and will try to get the object if it is hidden behind a screen.
2. At this age, babies may develop fears that they did not have before, As mentioned above, they may suddenly fear heights, may fear his bath, noises that he has heard all along may suddenly cause fear. Although frustrating, this is a sign of mental growth. You can help your baby by providing support and not pushing him towards the feared object. You can be reassuring during these fearful episodes by telling him it will be alright.
3. Becomes easily bored and needs variety in play.
4. Memory increases and baby can remember games from the day before. Baby will also expect a routine to take place.
5. Begins to concentrate and may not allow self to become distracted if interested in an activity

9 month old language skills:
1. Understands and follows simple commands such as “look” and “give it to me”.
2. Understands “No”
3. Uses accurate intonation to express emotions
4. Loves to listen to music, songs, rhymes and conversation of others.
5. May say “mama” or “dada” to parent.
6. Repeats long sequences of sounds or imitates parts of words.
7. Starts making sounds like clicking of tongue or blowing sounds or raspberries for fun.

Social skills at 9 months
1. Still may be fearful of unfamiliar people
2. Wants to please family and will “perform” to get praise or applause.
3. Begins to help self. She can remove her hat (and will).  She can hold a cup and take a drink but if the cup has no lid, she will spill a lot. She can feed herself with her fingers and often has an interest in utensils.
4. Will try to get you to play games.
5. Begins to understand other people’s moods and reacts to them. May cry if hearing another baby crying.

1. Place toys on couch or coffee table, while baby is standing at couch, move toys to side slightly so baby will want to move to get toy. 
2. If baby is sitting well and enjoys standing, now is the time to use a bouncer or standing table. (I do not recommend walkers at any time). 
3. Work with baby on going down stairs backwards. Most babies will be able to crawl up a little after they begin crawling but will not know how to go down. It is one motor skill you can teach using the hand over hand method. When baby is on stairs, help him move his legs down one step, then his hands down one step, back wards. Then encourage him to do it himself. Even if baby knows how to go down backwards, do not trust him on steps for several more months. 
4. Crawl chase is a fun game for a crawling baby. Let baby chase after you (also crawling) some of the time.
5. Can introduce a crawl tunnel.
6. If you have a large cardboard box , remove the top and place it with the open side on the side so baby can crawl into it and out of it and can place objects in it.
7. A medium sized ball that can be held in both baby’s hands can be used to play “chase the ball” and “catch”.
8. Babies need to practice their ability to pick up small objects but will still put everything in their mouth so this type of activity needs to be supervised and you need to use something that baby can put in their mouth such as pieces of dry cereal. Place them on the high chair tray. Be prepared that some of them will end up on the floor.

Sensory, thinking and learning
1. Variety, variety.  Offer baby some of her toys one day and other toys another day. If baby sees all the toys all the time she will become bored. 
2. Measuring cups or nesting cups or plastic kitchen bowls of different sizes will provide entertainment to a baby of this age. 
3. Water and sand play provide different textures to play with. You can do this outdoors or in a dishpan indoors. Always supervise. Babies can drown in 2 inches of water if they fall in.
4. Store baby’s toys on the bottom two shelves of an open bookcase so that baby can choose them easily by herself.
5. Around this age you will start seeing the “drop game” when baby is in the high chair. He will drop things to watch them fall and to get you to pick them up. Try to realize that it is a learning game and participate if you can.
6. Play with your baby with sets of everyday objects like a hairbrush and comb or a cup and a spoon. Encourage baby to explore the sets of objects even if not in the way they are supposed to be used.
7. Give baby some books to manipulate. There are some nice cloth books with squeakers and mirrors that baby can play with.

Language and Social
1. Offer baby a cup with handles and a top. During feeding time, have a second, preferably plastic, spoon for baby to play with while you offer the food from another spoon. For baby led weaned babies, you can offer a spoon at this time. Baby will not be efficient with the spoon yet but may be interested in trying.
2. Give baby applause for activities you like and he will likely repeat them to get more applause.
3. If baby is crawling, securely tape simple pictures (photos of family members, magazine pictures of animals or flowers or toys) around the wall at the base boards of the house. Name the pictures as baby crawls to look at them. Baby will try to grab them so they need to be securely taped on all sides, or you can tape 3 or 4 clear sleeve holders (like you use in binders) on three sides and slip the picture in from the open side. 
4. Name everything as you see it and ask baby say the word. Babies start imitating word sounds around this age. Baby may not imitate everything, every time but will begin to get the idea of words.
5. Absolutely time to exploit music. Play a variety of music for baby, depending on the moods and times of day you are in. Sing simple, children’s songs to baby who will listen and may start to imitate some actions in action song on cue. The imitation will not be perfect. 
6. Read books with large pictures and one or two words on each page. Baby may start flipping pages without waiting for you to read. At this time, go with her and just read the page you are on until baby moves off of it.
7. Introduce bubbles. Baby won’t be able to blow them yet but can watch them and pop them. Blow one batch and encourage baby to “ask” by gesture or some sound for the next batch. You can make your own bubble mixture with dish soap Here is the best recipe I have found. 1 cup of water, 4 soupspoons (table spoons) of dishwashing detergent (because you are not interested in cutting grease, store brands or discount brands work as well as the more expensive ones for this) and 2 soupspoons or tablespoons or corn syrup or glycerin ( which you may be able to get at bakery supply stores or pharmacies.) Mix, add a drop of food color if you want to, or for older children. Pour into container and dip wands into it. If you don’t have old wands from purchased bubbles, you can make one from pipe cleaners (if you can find them) or you can use cookie cutters as wands. 
Bubble stuff and cookie cutter wand.

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