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9-10 months: baby development

9-10 months

Babies come in all shapes and sizes, but baby development at 9-10 months typically has a few things in common. Here’s what your baby might be doing, how you can help and when to see a child health professional.

Baby development at 9-10 months: what’s happening

Babbling, babbling, babbling – you’ll hear lots of this from your baby as he gets closer to saying his first meaningful words. He might even say ‘dada’ or ‘mama’ and know what these words mean. If he’s an early talker, he might be using 1-2 words already.

But if your baby isn’t talking yet, don’t worry – she’ll still use body language to communicate with you, make noises to get your attention, and let you know what she wants.

Your baby will also understand when you say ‘no’, wave goodbye and point. And he’ll turn when he hears his name or another sound, like a doorbell.

Over the past few months your baby has learned to show emotions like caution and fear. You might see these emotions if she’s worried about strangers or about being apart from you.

Your baby still enjoys playing peekaboo and banging things together, looking at pictures in a book and finding hidden toys.

Around this age, your baby can crawl and stand up with support – for example, by holding your hand or the furniture. He might walk by holding on to your hands or some furniture, and might even be walking on his own.

At this age your baby might also:

  • follow a very simple instruction without you showing her what you want – for example, ‘Give me the block’
  • poke things using her pointer finger
  • pick up things using her thumb and pointer finger together
  • hold a bottle or drink from a cup you hold for her
  • try to hold a spoon when she’s eating by herself.
You’ll be surprised at how far your baby can move, so always watch your baby. It doesn’t take long for baby to unexpectedly move into or reach for something that puts him in danger.

Helping baby development at 9-10 months

Here are a few simple things you can do to help your baby’s development at this age:

  • Talk to your baby: your baby is interested in conversation, so talking about everyday things like what you’re doing will help her understand what words mean. The more talk, the better!
  • Listen and respond to his babbling: this will build his language, communication and literacy skills, and make him feel ‘heard’, loved and valued. It’s important to respond by talking or making sounds in your own warm and loving way. Your baby will enjoy hearing your voice go up and down and love watching your facial expressions as you talk to him.
  • Play together: sing songs, play peekaboo, ring bells, hide toys and make funny sounds or animal noises together. Surprise toys like a jack-in-the-box are fun from around 10 months. Playing together also helps your baby feel loved and secure.
  • Read together: reading, talking about the pictures in books and telling stories develop your baby’s imagination. This also helps her to understand language and learn to read as she gets older.
  • Encourage moving: moving and exploring help your baby build muscle strength for more complex movements like pulling to stand and walking. If your baby is crawling, you could try getting down on the floor and crawling around with him, or playing a game of chasey. Making your home safe can help your baby move about without getting hurt.

Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, she might be too tired or hungry. She’ll use special baby cues to let you know when she’s had enough and what she needs.

Parenting a 10-month-old

Every day you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. As your baby grows and develops, you’ll learn more about what he needs and how you can meet these needs. 

In fact, as a parent, you’re always learning. Every parent makes mistakes and learns through experience. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know and ask questions – often the ‘dumb’ questions are the best kind!

Your own physical and mental health is an important part of being a parent. But with all the focus on looking after a child or baby, lots of parents forget or run out of time to look after themselves. Looking after yourself will help you with the understanding, patience, imagination and energy you need to be a parent. 

Sometimes you might feel frustrated or upset. But if you feel overwhelmed, put your baby in a safe place – for example, a cot – or ask someone else to hold her for a while. Take some time out until you feel calmer. Try going to another room to breathe deeply or call a family member or friend to talk things through.

Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.

It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your baby, call your local Parentline. Our coping toolkit has practical ideas to help you relax and feel calmer.

When to be concerned about baby development

See your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your 10-month-old is having any of the following issues.

Seeing, hearing and communicating
Your child:

  • isn’t making eye contact with you, isn’t following moving objects with his eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
  • isn’t babbling
  • isn’t turning his head towards sounds or voices
  • doesn’t respond to your voice, smile and other facial expressions.

Your child doesn’t smile or show if she’s happy or sad.

Your child:

  • can’t sit on his own
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other.

You should see a child health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills that she had before.

You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you notice the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men in yourself or your partner. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.


Baby development issues


This short video is about baby development issues, particularly issues with vision, hearing and movement.

All babies develop in the same order but at different rates. There are signs that can tell you that a baby might be experiencing a delay in development. If you’re worried about your baby’s development, it’s a very good idea to have your child checked out by your GP or child and family health nurse.


Developmental delay in babies


This short video has information about recognising and catching development delay in newborns and babies. If you’re worried about your baby’s development or you suspect a delay in development, you should talk with your GP or child and family health nurse. There’s no need to feel embarrassed if you're worried about your baby.

Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you’re worried about whether your child’s development is ‘normal’, it might help to know that ‘normal’ varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn’t quite right, see your child and family health nurse or GP.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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