Right now, your baby’s newfound mobility is probably keeping everyone involved in their care on the go, and it might feel like you want to hit pause. Not only to savor this especially sweet stage, but to slow them down! Some littles are gearing up to walk at 9 months while others are content to get moving by crawling, scooting or even rolling for a while longer. There’s a pretty broad range with most motor skill milestones; and some babies may skip crawling altogether. It’s all normal. Here’s what else to know about your baby’s health and growth this month.  

Related: 9-month-old baby milestones

9-month-old baby nutrition

Some (but not all!) 9-month-olds start to show less interest in breastfeeding or bottle feeding around this age. While breast milk and/or formula should still be their top source of nutrition, your little one might start to get even more curious and excited about what’s on their (or your) plate. That makes now a perfect opportunity to start some family mealtime rituals. Pull baby’s highchair up to the table at dinner time and welcome them into the action.

The AAP and La Leche League (LLL) recommend the following feeding timeline and amounts for 9-month-olds:

  • Solids: Offered 2 times per day or at family mealtimes
  • Breast milk: Up to 8 ounces every 4 to 5 hours
  • Formula: 7 to 8 ounces every 5 to 6 hours

Your 9-month-old baby should be no stranger to solids! Here are the recommended serving sizes for a 9-month-old baby:

  • Infant cereal (single grain) mixed with breast milk or formula: 5 to 8 tablespoons (optional)
  • Fruits: 2 to 4 tablespoons
  • Vegetables: 2 to 4 tablespoons
  • Shredded meats, eggs, yogurt and soft-cooked plant-based proteins, such as lentils: 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Starches: ¼ to ½ cup simple carbs, such as pasta, mashed potatoes, bread

Read more: 9-month-old baby feeding schedule & expert advice

Playing with food

For decades, parents have reprimanded their children for playing with their food at the table—but recent research shows that letting your kid play with their food—with zero pressure to actually eat it—can help them safely explore new tastes and textures in a stress-free environment. After all, babies and kids learn through play, and bringing that concept to mealtime can be a game-changer for many—especially for those with sensory challenges or certain food or texture aversions. 

Bringing play into the picture at mealtimes can help babies get familiar with foods—especially new foods. Letting your little love play with their food empowers their curiosity, Simone Emery, a pediatric nutritionist and natural nutrition advocate with Little Bellies, tells Motherly. “Food is less surprising when we play with it first,” she shares.

One more thing: Try not to wipe that cute chin or clean those messy hands until exploratory time is over, Emery adds. “Giving the child the opportunity to play, learn and eat whilst you eat alongside them is less stressful, encourages learning and sets up a long term happy relationship with food,” Emery says. So help them squash those blueberries with their tiny fists and make a tower of cucumber slices, all in the name of play. (Psst: A wipeable floor mat might come in handy for enthusiastic food play sessions!).

Related: Actually, please *do* let your kids play with their food 

Lalo Splat Mat

Lalo

$89

Splat Mat

Can we ever say enough good things about Lalo? Probably not. Their 3-in-1 Lalo Chair is one of our top high chair picks given its stylish form and unparalleled function–and the same can be said of their splat mats. The vegan leather design features a solid soft color on one side and a subtle crosshatch pattern on the other, each of which coordinates with the rest of their stylish line. Best of all, it only takes a wipe with a damp cloth to look good as new.

Bumkins Splat Mat

Bumkins

$12

Splat Mat

There’s no better bang for the buck than the splat mats from the mess masters at Bumkins. The super affordable fabric mats are not only Amazon’s choice for splat mats, they’ve also racked up nearly 4K 5-star ratings from parents who call it a “savior” and a “must-have.” And while these aren’t as large as the others on this list, they’re durable, easy to clean and machine washable as well.

Wildcubz Baby Splat Mat

Wildcubz

$26.99

Baby Splat Mat

If your babe is regularly dining at grandma’s, the travel-friendly splat mat from Wildcubz is a great option. The three-ply fabric mat repels spills and is machine-washable when a simple wipe just isn’t enough. It’s got a silicone dot backing to keep it from slipping and easily packs up into an included wet bag when you’re done.

9-month-old baby weight

For babies up to 2 years of age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using the World Health Organization (WHO) weight and length charts

The WHO growth charts for babies 0 to 2 years are based on what is standard for a predominantly breastfed infant. According to the organization, the WHO charts reflect growth patterns among children who were predominantly breastfed for at least 4 months and were still breastfeeding at 12 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends continuing to breastfeed for at least two years, as long as it benefits both mother and baby. 

How much does the average 9-month-old weigh?

Your baby should still be gaining weight each month, though that rate has significantly slowed down as compared to their first six months of life. That said, they should generally have tripled their birth weight by their first birthday. 

According to the WHO:

What factors contribute to a 9-month-old baby’s weight?

Your baby’s weight may be a factor of how much they’re eating, their assigned sex and their activity levels. 

Assigned sex at birth: Male babies tend to be slightly heavier and gain weight slightly faster than female babies.

Daily food intake: The amount your baby takes in at each feeding plays a role in their weight. Many babies are still breastfeeding or taking bottles of formula 4 to 6 times per day at 9 months.

Activity levels: Your little one is working on bearing more weight in their legs this month in preparation for walking. Baby’s activity levels may factor into their overall weight, as physical activity helps build strong muscles and bones.

Related: Activities for a 9-month-old: Fostering baby’s development

9-month-old baby length

In month nine, you can expect your baby to grow less rapidly than in previous months, but they’ll still add another ½ inch to ¾ inch (1 to 2 centimeters) in length.

How long is the average 9-month-old?

According to the WHO:

What factors contribute to a 9-month-old baby’s length?

The primary factor that determines your baby’s length, or height, is usually genetics: kids tend to resemble their parents in height. But length each month also can be related to other factors, including physical activity, nutrition during pregnancy and after, sleep and overall health. All that movement they’re working on at this stage helps contribute to strong bones and muscles. 

Related: When will my baby start walking? Experts share there’s a wide range 

Growth charts and percentiles 

At your baby’s 9-month well-check this month, ask the pediatrician if you can see their growth chart. At each visit, your child’s doctor has been carefully plotting their weight, length and head circumference, which provides a visual at how a baby’s growth may be compared to that of other babies who are the same age and sex. 

Reading a growth chart comes down to two factors: Looking at the percentiles and the overall growth curve. For example, let’s say your baby’s weight is in the 70th percentile. That means that 30% of babies of the same age and sex weigh more, and 70% of babies weigh less. And now that you have several well-checks under your belt, there should be a growth curve to analyze, connecting all the data points. Doctors are checking for sustained growth over time here, looking at the overall pattern of growth. 

Growth spurts

Around the 9-month mark, some babies go through another growth spurt. That might look like increased fussiness, sleep changes or being extra hungry. Growth spurts tend to last a couple of days, but they could extend up to a week. But don’t worry, they’ll soon pass! 

When should I worry about my baby’s growth?

It’s important to remember that growth percentiles are just one metric used to track your baby’s development—all babies grow at their own pace. Trust that babies can be healthy whether they’re in the 5th percentile or 95th. What’s most important is whether your infant has stayed around the same percentile for a while or if they’ve significantly jumped up or dropped down. If your doctor is worried about your 9-month-old baby’s weight, length or growth, they’ll let you know. 

Otherwise, keep focusing on ensuring your baby is having regular wet and dirty diapers, is eating and drinking normally, and is meeting or working toward their 9-month developmental milestones. If you have concerns about your baby’s growth, be sure to bring it up with the pediatrician. 

9-month-old baby sleep 

Are you back to more quiet nights, mama? You’re hopefully on the other side of the 8-month sleep regression (progression) by now, and it may also be the case that your baby is no longer waking to eat at night. Many parents find that around 9 months, sleep becomes more stable—and life with an infant feels a little easier. 

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, babies under one should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours, which means your little one still needs lots of sleep. If sleep is still a struggle for your baby, consider reaching out to your pediatrician or a sleep consultant for tips. More restful sleep for baby equals more rest for you. 

What baby sleep looks like at 9 months:

  • Your baby may be taking 2 or 3 naps per day
  • Your baby may no longer be waking to eat at night
  • Your baby may be awake for 2 to 3 hours at a time

Starting around now, your 9-month-old might be ready to switch to a two-a-day nap schedule, instead of three or even four shorter naps. (Sometimes this can contribute to better night sleep.)

As for how to tell? “Your baby might be ready for two naps if they are showing strong and consistent signs that they are ready for this transition,” explains Rachel Mitchell, a certified sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper.

Signs your baby is ready to drop a nap may include:

  • Rejecting the third nap outright for at least two consecutive weeks
  • Fulfilling their sleep needs in their first two naps, causing the last nap to be too late
  • Sudden night wakings or early risings

If you’re seeing the above signs, it may be time to switch to just one morning and one afternoon nap.

Read more: How much sleep does a 9-month-old baby need?

Diapering a 9-month-old

Let’s talk poop: Your baby’s poop at 9 months should be somewhat formed but still have a soft, paste-like texture. You might notice minor changes from day to day depending on what foods they’ve been eating lately (beets will likely turn their stool reddish!), but anywhere from brown to yellow to green can be normal. Babies at this age should poop at least once per day, but it’s not a cause for alarm if they skip a day or two here and there. If their stool is solid or pellet-like, it could be a sign of constipation. Check in with the pediatrician just to make sure. 

Caring for a 9-month-old

Your growing bub has a well-check slated for this month, and that’s a good time to talk over any non-urgent questions with the pediatrician. Here’s what to know about baths and care for your bouncy babe. 

Baths

If you’ve yet to graduate your tot to the full-size bathtub, this month could be the right time to try. Start by transitioning slowly, which may look like placing their current baby bathtub inside the big tub (if you haven’t yet), and then after a few baths, once they’re used to the space, remove the baby tub and place them gently inside the big tub with just an inch or two of water. Remember that bathtime in the big tub should only be an option if your little one can sit up unassisted. And even then, they’ll require constant supervision while in the water, so be sure to gather everything you need beforehand. And if you need to leave the bathroom for any reason, bundle baby in a towel and tote them along with you. 

baby in a towel

Puj

$35

Hug 2 in 1 infant towel

There are baby towels and then there’s the Püj towel. Just hook the two silicone tabs around your neck and use both hands to safely pick up your baby, then place them face down into you (the towel acting as a barrier to keep you dry) to wrap them up and boom! You’ve got a cozy, happy, dry baby—and mama.

mom giving a baby a bath

Puj

$15

Bath kneeler

Your knees and elbows don’t have to suffer through bath time. This cushy pad saves your knees (or elbows in this case) and is certain to come in handy even outside the bathroom.

Dropping a feeding

Knowing when to drop a daytime or nighttime feeding can be tricky. You’ll want to ensure baby’s getting enough food, but if your little’s feeding schedule is tied closely to their nap schedule, when they drop a nap, it can have wider repercussions. Dropping a midday feed might be simplest, as you can likely replace it with a solid-food lunch for your bub. Otherwise, the best method for dropping a feeding for a 9-month-old is distraction. Take baby out for a walk or focus on some extra playtime or another activity during the typical feeding time. 

If you’re working on dropping a night feeding, check to see if your baby is actually hungry (maybe they’re making up for missed calories during the day) or if they’re just in need of some soothing. Before picking them up, try pausing for 5 minutes to see if they will self-settle, writes Mitchell. “If not, try soothing your baby in other ways, such as using a pacifier, shushing or rubbing your baby’s head/back, and cycle through these methods. Always soothe your baby while keeping them in the crib before picking up.”  

Safety

Your baby is likely on the move this month, in some form or fashion. This can mean that taking your eyes off them for a second can be a risk (like you needed another thing to worry about!). 

Consider moving diaper changes (and similar tasks like getting them dressed) to the floor, so if they roll away while you reach for the diaper cream, there’s less chance they’ll get hurt. Of course, bumps and bruises are common at this age, and there’s only so much you can do to prevent them. But being extra vigilant can help when they’re so focused on scooting and crawling at every waking opportunity.

Bosoner Baby Knee Pads

Bosoner

$8.99

Baby Knee Pads

For an extra layer of protection and some added grip, simple knee pads can be helpful to little crawlers.

HIliph Kids Ice Packs

HIliph

$8.50

Kids Ice Packs

But for the inevitable bumps, scrapes and bruises, these pint-sized ice packs are a great thing to have on hand. Just pop them into the freezer for a few!

A note from Motherly on self-care while caring for a 9-month-old

Being super focused on your 9-month-old baby’s growth and development can take a lot of energy, not to mention actually caring for an infant. But don’t forget to prioritize your own needs and downtime. If you’re consistently putting yourself second, it’s time to ask for more help. Research shows that babies and kids whose parents limit stress are less likely to have developmental delays. There are people in your life who want to help you, mama, you might just have to ask. And if you’re really struggling, reach out to your primary care provider to talk about mental health support, whether that’s medication, therapy or a combination. Postpartum depression can set in anytime in the first year after birth—and resources are out there. 

Look ahead: 10-month-old baby health & growth guide

Postpartum depression resources

If you’re experiencing any postpartum mood symptoms, no matter how mild, know that help is available. Reach out to your healthcare provider about next steps and potential treatment options, such as more support at home, therapy or medication. If you’re in crisis, reach out to a crisis hotline or dial 988 or 911 for immediate support.

The phone numbers listed below are available 24/7 to help you with suicidal thoughts or other mental health crises. 

A version of this story was originally published on April 3, 2023. It has been updated.