9-month-old baby milestones
Your 9-month-old is really starting to become their own person—with their own (strong!) feelings, wants and needs.
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With a 9-month-old baby, you might feel a little like you want to hit the pause button. Between their sweet smiles, better nights of sleep and more fun ways to play during the day, this can truly be an amazing stage. (But, to be fair, we think that for just about all stages. There is always something to appreciate.)
Right now, your baby’s newfound mobility is probably keeping them—and you—on the go. Some babies are gearing up to walk around this point while others are content to get around by crawling, scooting or even rolling for a while longer. That’s fine—there’s a pretty broad range with most motor skill milestones; some babies may skip crawling altogether! Still, by keeping track of what milestones your baby is working on achieving, you can support their development and consult with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.
Related: 9 types of foods to fuel brain development, per a pediatric dietitian
9-month milestones at a glance
Your 9-month-old is really starting to become their own person—with their own (strong!) feelings, wants and needs. And they’re working on communicating those with you however they can. You might start to see your little one lift their arms when they want to be picked up, crying or protesting when you leave and using their hands—and newfound movement skills, like scooting and maybe crawling—to reach anything and everything their tiny heart desires. If you haven’t yet, introducing some baby sign language for words like “more”, “milk”, “water” and “mama” can help ease anything that might otherwise get lost in translation.
An in-depth look at 9-month milestones
Your babe is officially 9 months on the outside—after 9 months on the inside (give or take). Now’s the time to do a side-by-side look at just how much has changed… for both of you. You’ve come so far, mama. Read on to find out what you need to know about 9-month-old baby development to continue supporting your little love as they grow.
9-month developmental milestones
Here’s what The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say about 9-month-old baby milestones.
(Editor’s note: The 9-month milestone guidelines were written to reflect the behaviors that 75% or more of children exhibit at a certain age. Note that milestones are not a perfect metric: It’s key to speak to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your unique child.)
- With a developing understanding of object permanence, your 9-month-old baby realizes things still exist when they are out of sight. This makes peekaboo a real hit!
- Your baby is working on talking… although you might not be able to make sense of everything they say quite yet. Take note if your baby doesn’t babble yet.
- Your 9-month-old should be able to track objects as they move, which includes watching things as they fall.
- Your little one should be able to sit without support. One way or another, most 9-month-old babies are on the move. Although your baby may not be walking yet (or even for a while), pay attention to whether they can bear weight on their legs with support.
- Your baby’s fine motor skills are developing, too! Your 9-month-old should be able to transfer objects from hand to hand, and “rake” food towards themselves with their fingers.
- Your baby should be both skilled and interested in putting things in their mouth. That’s great at mealtime, but be sure to keep them away from small objects that could be choking hazards.
Social and emotional
- Your 9-month-old baby may feel a bit of stranger danger—even when you know the person. They may react with tears or by being a bit clingy with a familiar adult. Give your child time and space to warm up to new people.
- By 9 months, your baby likely has some pretty strong preferences about everything from their favorite food to a favorite toy.
- Your baby should show interest in observing other people and work on copying sounds or facial expressions they see.
Related: Feeling divided among multiple kids? Here’s how yoga helped unite my family
Baby’s sleep at 9 months
By now, you’re hopefully on the other side of the 8-month sleep regression (or as we like to call them, sleep progression) and are back to more quiet nights.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, babies under one should get 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours, which means yes, even though your little one is far from the newborn days, they still need lots of sleep.
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
The next big sleep milestone to anticipate? At 9 months old, your baby might be officially ready to switch to a two-a-day nap schedule, instead of three or even four shorter naps.
But look out for the signs: “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 your little one is showing these 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?
Feeding a 9-month-old
For some babies, the 9-month mark means they may show less interest in breastfeeding or bottle-feeding and more desire to eat food—namely, what’s on your plate. That makes this a perfect opportunity to start some family mealtime rituals. Pull baby’s highchair up to the table at dinner time and let them be part of the action.
The AAP and La Leche League (LLL) recommend the following feeding timeline and amounts for 9-month-olds:
- Solids: Offered two times per day or at family mealtimes
- Breast milk: Up to eight ounces every four to five hours
- Formula: Seven to eight ounces every five to six hours
Your 9-month-old baby should be no stranger to solids! Here are the recommended serving sizes for an 9-month-old baby:
- Infant cereal (single grain) mixed with breast milk or formula: five to eight tablespoons (optional)
- Fruits: two to four tablespoons
- Vegetables: two to four tablespoons
- Shredded meats, eggs, yogurt and soft-cooked plant-based proteins, such as lentils: two to three tablespoons
- Starches: ¼ to ½ cup simple carbs, such as pasta, mashed potatoes, bread
Read more: 9-month-old baby feeding schedule & expert advice
Activities for 9-month-olds
That 9 months has likely flown by, mama, in a whirlwind of diaper changes, plenty of firsts and sweet giggles, but we’re also betting you’re exhausted. Hopefully now your little lovebug is sleeping on a more regular schedule and waking up less at night, which means you might be able to grab a few moments to yourself. Try to find ways to focus on your own needs, too, even if the moments are brief or you fall asleep six minutes into your favorite novel or show. Your bouncing babe might seem to have endless energy these days—here are a few fun activities to try with them.
Name that object: To help your baby’s developing language skills, talk about what you’re doing, point to objects, and name them. If they get excited or point to something, add words to their gestures. “Yes, that’s a fast car!” It makes them feel good, like you understand what they mean. Experts note that the more language they hear directly spoken to them, the better their talking will be as they grow.
Little pinches: Baby’s pincer grasp is maturing at this stage, which will prepare your tot for independent feeding, dressing, writing, and much more. Exercise those fine motor skills by offering them Cheerios or blueberries in a narrow cup for them to fish out, plus wooden puzzles with knobs on the back to help them grasp the pieces.
Mini art class: Using mashed fruits and water on paper, make a form of edible finger paint for baby to experiment with, and talk about the colors and textures. You can also offer them a small, clean paintbrush—just be prepared for them to put it in their mouth!
Our favorite products for 9-month-olds
Supporting your 9-month-old baby’s development
Ready to make the most of those wake windows? These 9-month-old baby activities can support your cutie’s development.
- Help your 9-month-old baby learn how to play with toys in new ways, such as by lining up toy blocks and then stacking them.
- Play with your 9-month-old baby by rolling a favorite toy across the room and then having a crawling “race” to reach it.
- Encourage your 9-month-old baby’s communication skills by getting excited when they point something out to you.
It’s science: Practicing self-care as a parent helps your child’s development
While you think about your baby’s development, search for enriching 9-month-old baby activities and seek new ways to play, don’t forget about your needs and downtime. Really—research shows that babies and kids whose parents limit stress are less likely to have developmental delays.
A note from Motherly: 9-month milestones
No one knows your baby like you. As they grow, you’ll get the privilege to learn more about what makes them unique.
For now, that may look like your 9-month-old focusing on one set of skills while one of their baby friends is more advanced in another way—and that can be perfectly normal! Look instead for bigger trends, such as if your baby isn’t communicating, shows signs of muscle weakness or doesn’t seem to react to stimulation. If you have questions or concerns, bring them up with your child’s doctor.
Looking ahead: 10-month-old baby milestones
A version of this story was originally published on Oct. 17, 2021. It has been updated.