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Your Child's Development: 9 Months

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
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Nine-month-olds have a new understanding of the world. They learn that just because they can't see mom or dad at a certain time doesn't mean they don't exist. So now, your baby may begin to miss you when you're gone. This can lead to separation anxiety — distress at your departure.

While this might seem like a bad thing, it's actually very good — and marks an important leap in thinking. Comfort and reassure your baby to help him or her feel loved and secure. 

Doctors use certain milestones to tell if a baby is developing as expected. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some babies gain skills earlier or later than others. Babies who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your baby's progress.

Here are some things your baby might be doing:

Communication and Language Skills

  • recognizes their name 
  • understands the word "no"
  • says "mama" and "dada"
  • can wave goodbye and use other gestures
  • starts pointing to objects

Movement and Physical Development

  • sits without support, pulls to stand, crawls, and may walk along furniture ("cruising")
  • can pick up small objects or pieces of food (such "O"-shaped cereal)
  • can hold one item in each hand at the same time

Social and Emotional Development

  • might be fearful of strangers
  • misses caregivers when they leave
  • seeks reassurance from caregivers (a baby starting to crawl, for example, will often "check back" with mom or dad while developing this new skill)
  • attaches to objects for security, such as stuffed animals or a favorite blanket

Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)

  • understands the idea that an object or person exists somewhere even though the baby can't see the object or person at that moment (for example, a baby will look for a toy that a caregiver hides behind a blanket) 
  • enjoys interactive games such as "peekaboo" and "so big"
  • looks at the pages of a book while you read
  • bangs objects together

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Every baby develops at their own pace. But if you notice anything that concerns you — however small — share it with your doctor. Always tell the doctor if your baby:

  • doesn’t respond to their own name
  • doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people
  • doesn’t stand with support
  • is not babbling

If you ever notice that your child had skills but has lost them or shows weakness on one side of the body, tell your doctor.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021