Every day your baby seems to grow and change – and they are! To help you keep track of your baby’s development, we’ve gathered all you need to know about a 9-month-old baby’s milestones and developmental benchmarks.
Here we’ll look at the milestones 9-month old’s typically hit, how to support your 9-month old’s development, the sleep patterns of a 9-month-old and answer the common question: Do 9-month-old’s have sleep regressions.
Major 9 Month Developmental Milestones
We’ve divided the 9-month milestones into categories. While reviewing these milestones, please keep in mind this is not a “9-month milestone checklist”. Every baby develops at their own pace, so it’s totally alright if your baby is “behind” or “ahead” in any of these 9-month development milestones. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s development contact your pediatrician.
A 9-Month-Old’s Physical Developments:
Your 9-month-old is probably quite a mover and shaker. Now that they’re learning about their limbs and how to control them, they want to move them around a lot. And if they’re not moving their limbs, they’re often crawling, exploring the world.
Other 9-month-old physical milestones include:
- Sitting by themselves
- Uses fingers like a “fork,” by raking the food on their plate.
- Moves things between hands
- Crawling – a big 9-month milestone that begins your baby’s journey to walking. You may even notice they start pulling themselves up with the furniture – a sign your 9-month-old may be cruising soon, which can start around 10 months.
A 9-Month-Old’s Sensorial Milestones:
Your baby’s eyesight and focus continue to improve in their 9th month, but there’s another big sensorial milestone, too…
Smelling Good: Your baby’s nose is becoming more sensitive now. You can help it develop – and learn their tastes – by letting them smell mild foods, flowers, or grass outside, or other scented materials.
A 9-Month-Old’s Emotional Milestones:
Your baby can see and sense the world better than ever. That means they’ll also express a lot of emotions about the world, including:
- Being shy or bashful around strangers
- Being visibly happy, sad, confused, or angry.
- Reacts when you arrive or leave – especially leave, because 9-month-olds are also mastering object permanence: the fact that things exist when you can’t see them. This can lead to some separation anxiety, which is totally normal and a good sign that your 9-month-old is developing well.
How Does Peek-a-Boo Help My 9-Month-Old?
Peek-a-boo is more than fun – though it is that! – it’s actually a great way to teach object permanence. When you “hide” behind your hands and reappear, you reinforce the notion that things out of sight continue to exist.
Peek-a-boo can also help reduce separation anxiety because when you “reappear” you are happy and excited – proof that you’re okay when out of sight and that you’ll always come back.
A 9-Month-Old’s Cognitive Milestones:
Your baby’s memory and understanding are also rapidly developing. Here are some typical 9-month cognitive milestones:
- Turns when you say their name.
- Searches for hidden or dropped objects.
- Your baby may get bored: The world is fascinating, sure, but your baby wants to constantly be learning and experiencing new things, so don’t be surprised if your 9-month-old is soon “over” an old favorite toy or activity.
Luckily, 9-month-olds can be easily entertained, and their toys need not be complicated or expensive. It just needs to be slightly different day-to-day. For example, one day you can give your baby an empty cereal box to play with; the next day, give them that same box with the top torn off.
A 9-Month-Old’s Communication Milestones:
9-month-old babies are more communicative than ever. Some 9-month communication milestones include:
- Sounding out simple words, like “mama” or “dada.”
- Raising their arms to indicate, “I want to be lifted.”
Why Does My Baby Have a Big Belly?
As your baby starts to stand, you may notice they have a bigger belly and bottom than before. This is totally normal – it’s their body creating balance – and cushioning - for their first wobbly steps.
How Do I Support Your 9-Month-Old’s Development?
Your 9-month-old is learning about and engaging the world in so many new ways. You can support your 9-month-olds development and help them hit their milestones with the following actions – or, in some cases, in actions. Notice that these tips are all about communication and engaging. It’s more important now than ever that you talk to, play with, and explore with your baby.
Some ways to support your 9-month-old’s development include:
Sound It Out: Your baby may know a few words and may be trying to say them. If they are, you can support your baby’s verbal development by repeating their phrase and then offering the correct version. For example, if your baby is saying “baba,” for bottle, you say “Baba. Yes, bottle.”
Encourage Crawling: To encourage your baby to crawl, place a toy or another object they want a few feet in front of them on the ground. This will encourage them to move themselves toward it, either by crawling or scooting.
Encourage Gestures: Gestures are very important forms of communication. You can teach your baby gestures easily by simply performing the gestures. For example, wave “bye-bye” when leaving or gesture to your mouth when you’re hungry.
Practice Your Floor Routine: Bond with your baby by getting down to their level on the floor.
Let Them Try: 9-month-olds are learning problem solving skills, so be sure to give them an opportunity to solve a problem. For example, if your baby knows a toy is inside a box and is struggling to open that box, give them a minute or so to figure it out. If they don’t, gently show them how to open the box – or solve whatever problem it is – and then give them an opportunity to mimic you.
Make Their Toys Interactive: You can improve your baby’s motor skills – and prevent boredom – with interactive toys like building blogs, a train on a string, or a noise-making device – anything that engages their little hands and senses.
Socialize Your Baby: As your baby learns to sense and express emotions, it’s more important than ever that they interact with other babies.
Praise Your Baby: When your baby crawls or repeats a word or waves – whatever it is that’s good and great and shows they’re developing – be sure to praise them. This will reinforce their behavior.
Support Your Baby’s Sleep:
Sleep is essential to your baby’s growth, and they may miss developmental milestones if they’re not getting the rest they need. That said, as simple as it is, helping your baby sleep helps your baby develop well. If you’d like step-by-step sleep training advice, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™.
We worked with pediatric sleep experts to create an easy-to-use app that helps any parent help any baby learn to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer – all so babies can continue growing day-by-day.
Does My 9-Month-Old Recognize Emotions?
Yes. By 9-month-olds most babies can recognize emotions on your face. Whether you’re happy, sad, or angry, they can tell, so try to be as light and optimistic and loving as possible when with your baby.
A Guide to a 9-Month-Old Baby’s Sleep Milestones
This is a sample sleep schedule for a 9-month-old baby. These times are purely hypothetical. When setting your baby’s sleep schedule, be sure to follow their sleepy signs and wake windows, rather than a specific clock time:
Sample Sleep Schedule for 9-Month Old’s With 2 Naps:
How Much Should a 9-Month-Old Sleep?
On average a 9-month-old will sleep about 13-14 hours a day. That’s divided between night, when a 9-month-old typically sleeps about 10-12 hours, and 2 daytime naps lasting about 1.5 hours each.
How Many Naps Should My 9-Month-Old Take?
A 9-month-old should take 2 naps lasting about 1.5 hours.
How Long is a 9-Month-Old’s Wake Window?
The wake window for a 9-month-old is typically about 2 ¾ to 3 ½ hours – a far cry from when they were newborns sleeping all the time. This is wonderful – your baby is developing, and you have so much more awake time to enjoy together.
Should My 9-Month-Old Sleep Through the Night?
Yes, typically a 9-month-old can “sleep through the night.” Note we used quotations, because sometimes a 9-month-old will still need a feeding around 3-5am. It’s best to check with your pediatrician if it’s ok to night wean.
Will My 9-Month-Old Have a Sleep Regression?
Do 9-month-old’s have sleep regressions is a bit of a tricky question, because the answer is yes and no. No because there is not technically a sleep regression at 9 months, however some babies experience their 8-month sleep regression a little bit later, so the ‘8-month sleep regression’ is often referred to as the 9-month sleep regression.
Why Do Sleep Regressions Happen in Babies?
Sleep regressions always coincide with developmental milestones. For example, in the 8-month sleep regression, your baby is just first learning to sit, which is very exciting. This excitement, and a desire to practice sitting, can disrupt your baby’s sleep.
For that reason, sleep regressions can actually be seen as sleep progressions: they are signs your baby is hitting their developmental milestones.
A potential 9-month sleep regression, like the 8-month regression, may have another element, though: Separation Anxiety.
Why Do Babies Get Separation Anxiety?
First, let’s be clear that separation anxiety is totally normal and harmless. Like all “regressions,” separation anxiety in babies is a good thing because it shows your baby understand object permanence. They understand that something, usually you, still exists when they can’t see it. So, if they wake up at night and can’t see you, they wonder where you are and what you may be doing – they have “Baby FOMO”.
If your baby has separation anxiety at night, you can try:
- Leaving Them for a Moment: Often a baby will soothe themselves back to sleep – a skill the Smart Sleep Coach helps grow.
- Reassuring From Afar: If your baby is up for a long time and crying, you can briefly check in to reassure them. If you do, though, we recommend keeping the lights low, speaking softly, and offering your reassurances from afar, rather than picking up your baby. The goal is to reassure while keeping them calm. If you pick them up or speak too loudly, you’ll stimulate them more.
Is There a 9-Month Nap Transition?
No, there is no 9-month nap transition. After the 3 to 2 nap transition at 7 months, your baby will be on a 2-nap schedule until the 2 to 1 nap transition around 15 months.
Should a 9-Month-Old Use a Pacifier?
Technically it is fine for a 9-month-old to use a pacifier. The American Pediatric Association does suggest weaning from a pacifier around 6 months, but every baby is different, and some babies continue to use a pacifier until 2 years. That is considered the ultimate “end” point for pacifiers, though.
“Deviations from Typical Developmental Trajectories Detectable at 9 Months of Age in Low-Risk Children Later Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
“Speech and Language Developmental Milestones,” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
“Important Milestones: Your Baby by Nine Months,” The CDC.
“Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development,” National Institutes of Health.
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.