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Your baby's growth and development — 9 months old

7-minute read

Key facts

  • By 9 months of age, your baby should be able to handle finger foods that they can pick up and eat themselves.
  • Your baby may be standing upright and moving around while holding onto furniture (called ‘cruising’) but sometimes this doesn’t happen for another few months.
  • By 9 months of age your baby will most likely be showing signs of separation anxiety.
  • They will be babbling, copying sounds, making noises to get your attention, and might stop when you say 'no'.

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

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?

Physical development

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.

Cognitive development

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.

Social development

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.

Emotional development

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.

Language development

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.

Keep talking, singing and reading to your baby as much as possible to help with their language development. Make funny sounds, explain to them what you are doing, and respond to their noises.

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

If you are worried or would like to discuss any issues with your baby’s development, speak to your doctor or child health nurse.

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.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2023


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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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