1. Babies
  2. Development
  3. Development tracker

8-9 months: baby development

8-9 months

Babies come in all shapes and sizes, but baby development at 8-9 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 8-9 months: what’s happening

Waving goodbye, pointing, babbling, clapping hands, crawling, pulling up to stand – there’s a lot happening for your baby.

At this age, your baby is having a growth spurt in his brain. This improves his memory and you might notice him forming stronger attachments to his favourite people, toys and books.

Your baby might even prefer a particular person – this could be you, your partner, or another close family member or carer. Getting upset when you’re not there (separation anxiety) and anxiety around strangers is pretty common at this age. It might help to know that it’s a normal part of a child’s development.

You’ll start to get an idea of what your child might be like in the future, as she starts showing you her personality. Her emotions are maturing too – she can express fear and also read and respond to your facial expressions.

Your baby is starting to link words with their meanings and understand your body language – for example, if you point at something, he might look towards it. He’ll still be babbling, and might say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ without knowing what these words mean. You might even hear 1-2 other words, if baby is an early talker.

At this age your baby might also:

  • copy sounds or make noises to get your attention
  • practise her eating skills by holding, biting and chewing food
  • look closely at everything she picks up – for example, she might ring bells, bang blocks and find hidden objects
  • walk by holding on to your hands or the furniture, or she might even try walking without any help at all.
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 8-9 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 your baby’s 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. At this age, your baby especially enjoys playing with you and copying what you do. Playing together also helps her feel loved and secure.
  • Read together: reading, talking about the pictures in books and telling stories develop your baby’s imagination. This also helps him to understand language and learn to read as he 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 can try getting down on the floor and crawling around with her, 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, he might be too tired or hungry. He’ll use special baby cues to let you know when he’s had enough and what he needs.

Parenting a nine-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 she 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 him for a while. Take some time out until you feel calmer. You could also try going to another room to breathe deeply or calling 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, 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 nine-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 her eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
  • isn’t babbling
  • isn’t turning her head towards sounds or voices.

Behaviour
Your child:

  • doesn’t smile or show if he’s happy or sad
  • shows little or no affection for carers – for example, he doesn’t cuddle you.

Movement
Your child:

  • isn’t rolling
  • can’t sit up on her own
  • uses one hand a lot more than the other.

You should also see a health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills that he 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.

Video

Baby development issues

1:55

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.

Video

Developmental delay in babies

2:23

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.

Rate this article (697 ratings)

Tap the stars to rate this article.

Thanks for rating this article.

Last updated or reviewed
01-02-2016

  • Tell us what you think
  • References
 
 

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.

Follow us

© 2006-2017 Raising Children Network (Australia) Ltd