Your baby’s endless curiosity for new objects can be exhausting right now. With her new found ability to move around and fingers that fit in the tiniest crevices, it takes constant attention to keep her safe. Reduce your frustrations by toddler-proofing as much as possible. And try to keep in mind that all of her explorations are fueling her knowledge base for future creativity and language development.
What Your Baby is Learning
Your baby can sit alone for 10 minutes or more. She is able to move from sitting to hands and knees, but has more difficulty going from hands and knees to sitting unless she has some support. When held in a standing position, she will purposefully step from one foot to the other.
She can move like lightening now. She is probably crawling up stairs and cruising- moving around on her feet by holding onto furniture. She is learning how to bend her knees and to sit after standing. This, surprisingly, is hard to babies to learn.
Nine month olds show sustained interest for a few minutes at a time. Your baby will watch the activities of adults, children and animals within a 10-12 foot radius (3-3½ meters). She pays special attention to everyday sounds, especially voices.
Her fascination with objects she can hold is aided by her skill in manipulating them. She turns them over and over, mouths them and then watches them intently as she turns them over some more. She will then bang them against her highchair or the floor and then turn them over and over again.
Your baby’s thumb is getting more skillful now. She picks up small objects between her thumb and the tips of several fingers. She is fascinated with holes and openings and pokes her index finger into all available cracks and crevices. Now she will use her index finger to point to objects she cannot reach.
She can hold her bottle herself with both hands and can remove the nipple and then replace it in her mouth again. She loves to munch on teething crackers and her bite is quite strong.
As she eats more solid food, she will take fewer bottles. Many breastfed babies begin to wean themselves at this age. When they are getting enough nutrition from the solids they eat, they will begin to nurse less often or for shorter periods. You can give her formula in a cup or bottle to complete weaning when you are ready.
Your baby is beginning to remember specific information and she will remember the location of her toys in her house. She will be able to imitate an action she saw as long as a week before. She doesn’t remember most experiences more than a moment, but occasionally you’ll see she is developing recall memory. Long term memory won’t develop for a couple years yet.
She shows she understands what you say when she stops what she is doing when you say “no.” From the tone of your voice and your gestures she understands that “no” and “don’t touch” mean she is not pleasing you. However, she cannot understand that to continue could mean DANGER. You need to continue to say “no” many times about the same action, because her memory is so short.
She responds to her name by looking around or by stopping what she is doing to see who called her. Reinforce this behavior by saying her name frequently.
She shouts to attract attention, listens, then shouts again. Anger or frustration can trigger a scream.
Babbling long strings of syllables is mostly for her own amusement, though she is beginning to see that it is a form of communication too.
She can now imitate the playful sounds of adults like coughing, smacking lips, and “the raspberries.” She loves to imitate you. She will try to imitate gestures like nodding her head, clapping, waving bye-bye. She is practicing for conversations with you. She will begin to copy your tone and even the rhythm of your speech even before she can copy your words.
Peek-a-boo is now an active game with your baby as a participant, not just an observer. She can imitate Pat-a-cake briefly. Even though she can’t sustain her imitation through the whole game, she enjoys you completing it for her.
She is becoming more assertive about what she likes and doesn’t like. She can clearly express her annoyance, resistance, and frustration now. Respect her opinions. She is beginning to discover that she is an individual and separate from her mother. This is a good and necessary step that happens to every baby. Separation is a real struggle, however. She has to resolve this struggle for herself. How well she does has a lot to do with learning to make decisions herself. One of her first tastes of independence is choosing her own finger foods.
Your baby’s personality is beginning to emerge now. She may be bold and seem fearless or she may be more cautious and thoughtful. She may be very social or more shy. She may be very changeable or even tempered. Enjoy her God-given uniqueness.
Ways You Can Help
By holding your baby’s hands, walk her toward you. She will enjoy a large push toy that she can stand and push and practice walking. Make sure the toy is stable with a wide base of support.
She is getting better and better at copying the sounds you make. You can help your baby by repeating a sound she makes and waiting for her response. Then you make a different sound and wait for her response. What she says will be getting closer to your words all the time. Her jabber probably sounds more like real words, phrases and sentences. Since she thinks she is saying something, be sure to respond as if she is.
The greatest predictor of later intelligence is how many words a child hears daily. These are words spoken directly to the child by a caring adult not, of course, the background chatter of the TV or talking toys.
She can now put objects in a container and remove them herself. Give her unbreakable containers and blocks or other colorful objects to put in and take out.
She will begin playing passing games, giving away a toy and then taking it back. Be her playmate, this is the best time for her to learn to give and take. She can begin to learn to roll a ball back and forth with you. She may like to stack blocks you hand her or she may hand the pieces to you and watch you stack them. Either way, play these simple games with your child.
One of her favorite activities will be tumbling on the floor with Daddy. Dad is so much fun to climb on. His arms and legs make great obstacles to overcome. Your baby will love to feel vibrations all through Daddy when he laughs or sings. Baby’s brain is quite tender so don’t overdo tossing your baby in the air. A gentle roughhousing is good for your baby, though.
During the next couple months, separation anxiety is at its peak. She may show extreme attachment to you and fear everyone else. It will pass and she will become friendly again in not too long. She feels most secure when everything is predictable and familiar.
Help grandparents and other friends of yours to get a better reception from your baby by warning them to approach slowly and allow your baby to make the first move towards them. Let her calm herself with a pacifier or thumb or comfort blanket. She needs these more than ever right now.
What to Expect Next
- Jabbers or combines syllables
- Cruises holding onto furniture
- Eats well with fingers
To Use a Playpen or Not?
What a boon a playpen can be to a busy mom! A playpen is a safe place for your baby to play while you are busy with housework or cooking. A playpen can keep your baby out of trouble and keep her toys within reach for her to play with. She can pull herself up to her feet and cruise around the edge.
But the playpen also restricts your baby’s activities and limits her space for moving around. Many babies are so unhappy in a playpen that their moms seldom resort to using it. Even if your baby doesn’t mind the playpen, make sure that she gets at least several hours each day out of the playpen and highchair for freedom of movement.
It is important for your baby to learn about her relationship to the things around her. Only when she can crawl freely will she learn to judge when a space is too small for her to crawl through or too low to wiggle under. When she finds herself at a dead-end, she will learn to move backwards. She learns about distance when she finds she has to work harder and longer to get to some objects than to others.
So, used wisely a playpen can be a blessing to parents and a safe place for baby. Misused, a playpen can limit your baby’s learning experiences and slow her development. Find a good balance.
The Treasure Box
This is a wonderful age to begin using The Treasure Box. This is a box that is tall enough that she can just reach over the side when she is sitting or kneeling beside it. Fill it about half full with newspapers so that she cannot tip the box over by pulling on the side. Put four or five objects on the newspaper for her to play with. At least some of the objects should be new to her. Soon she will find the box and look over the side to see what’s inside.
The Treasure Box will become her own magic source of new things to play with. Whenever you get new toys for her, put them in this box for her to discover. Don’t let her see you putting things in the box. It is better to put only a few things in the box at a time and to change them frequently. If you put too many things in the box at a time, she may get confused. But fewer toys increases her attention span and you get more mileage out of her toys.
After she has gotten used to going to the box and finding new treasures in it, try moving the box. Let her find its new location to look for toys. For variety, change the appearance of the box by painting it or substitute another box for The Treasure Box. She will especially like things she can do something with, not something she can only watch. She learns by doing.
I am indebted to The Growing Child newsletter for this wonderful suggestion. You may see their web site at: http://www.growingchild.com/GrowingChild.html
Dear Heavenly Father, my baby is able to move so quickly and put her tiny fingers in the smallest holes. Please, give me the ability to patiently and consistently direct her to safe activities. When I get tired of repeating the same things over and over, remind me how often You have to repeat the same lessons in my life. Help me to learn from You more quickly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.