My 9 month old
At around 9 months, babies’ brains have a growth spurt. They will really be developing a personality now, and you’ll be getting a glimpse of the child they’re going to grow into.
As your baby’s memory develops, they will form stronger attachments with a few people and will start to prefer some people over others. They may still be suffering from separation anxiety when you leave them, but don’t worry — it’s normal.
By now your baby should be able to handle finger foods that they can pick up and eat themselves. Make sure you give them a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups every day: vegetables; fruit; lean meat, fish, poultry or meat alternatives; grains and cereal; and milk, cheese, yoghurt and dairy alternatives.
From 9 months, you can also start to offer food before their milk feeds. This is so your baby can start to cut down on their milk intake.
Your baby may be standing upright and moving around while holding onto furniture (this is known as ‘cruising’) but sometimes this doesn’t happen for another few months. You don’t need to worry about buying them shoes just yet — learning to walk in their bare feet helps to strengthen their feet and leg muscles. Think about buying their first shoes when they start walking around outside.
Understanding baby growth charts
A growth chart helps you and your doctor keep track of how your baby is growing.
What can my baby do?
Many babies are mobile by 9 months and some can go upstairs, but coming back down is very challenging, so take care. They will also be learning how to bend their knees to sit down after standing. At 9 months your baby should also be able to sit, lean forward and straighten up without toppling.
Passing games are a favourite with many 9 month olds — giving you a toy and then taking it back. They will also enjoy putting objects in a container and taking them out again, stacking rings, and playing with toys with levers, doors and moving parts.
By 9 months of age your baby will be showing signs of separation anxiety. They might cry or be upset when they’re separated from you, or cling to you when you try to leave. Separation anxiety can also make it harder to get your baby to sleep. Gradually your baby will learn that you always come back and will build trust with other people in their life.
Your baby will feel most comfortable when you are around and may become stressed or anxious if you are not there. Your baby will actively explore and play when you are with them and will return to you to ‘check in’ for assurance.
By 9 months, your baby will be starting to understand the meaning of words. If you point at something, they might look at it. They will be babbling, copying sounds, making noises to get your attention, and might stop when you say 'no'. They will probably recognise their name by now.
How can I help my baby develop?
Your baby is probably interested in toys they can interact with. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on them. You can entertain them by opening and closing the kitchen cupboards (as long as the contents are safe and you ensure that they do not catch their fingers), giving them a wooden spoon to bang a pot with, playing ‘peek-a-boo’ behind the sofa or curtains, and building blocks into a tower.
You can help your baby gain confidence in walking by standing or kneeling in front of them with your hands out, or holding them by the hands as they walk towards you. You can also buy a toy trolley or stroller that they can hold onto while they learn to walk. Make sure it’s stable, has a wide base and is designed as a toy for babies their age. Baby walkers are not recommended as they can interfere with natural development of walking skills and result in many injuries.
Development problem signs
Babies develop at different rates.
At 9 months, talk to your doctor or maternal child health nurse if they:
- haven’t started to move at all or hold their body stiff rather than sitting
- aren't showing any interest in or aren’t reaching for objects
- don’t recognise you or a main carer, or don’t make eye contact
- don't turn towards quiet sounds
- aren't babbling or recognising sounds made by other people
- can’t be comforted by you or a main carer
Resources and support
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: January 2023