Infant development: Milestones from 7 to 9 months
It might surprise you how quickly your baby is picking up new skills. Infant development milestones for a 7- to 9-month-old include sitting, standing and laughing.
As your baby becomes more mobile and curious, infant development takes off. It might seem that your baby learns something new every day. Understand these next milestones and what you can do to promote your baby’s growth.
What to expect
Babies grow and develop at their own pace. From ages 7 to 9 months, your baby is likely to experience:
- Advancing motor skills. By this age, most babies can roll over in both directions even in their sleep. Most babies also can sit on their own, while others need a little support. You might notice your baby beginning to scoot, rock back and forth, or even crawl across the room. Some babies this age can pull themselves to a standing position. Soon your baby might take some steps while holding the edge of a couch or low table.
- Improved hand-eye coordination. Most babies this age move objects from one hand to another or directly to their mouths. Pulling objects closer with a raking motion of the hands will give way to more-refined movements, such as picking up objects with just the thumb and forefinger. These skills will help your baby handle a spoon and soft finger foods.
- Evolving communication. Babies communicate through sounds, gestures and facial expressions. You’ll probably hear plenty of laughing and squealing. Some babies might repeat the sounds they hear — or give it their best shot. Your baby’s babbling is likely to include chains of sounds, such as “ba-ba-ba.” You might even pick out an occasional “mama” or “dada.”
- Stranger anxiety. Many babies this age become wary of strangers. Your baby might resist staying with anyone other than you. If your baby fusses when you leave, the excitement of a new toy or event might provide a distraction. Your baby will likely stop crying as soon as you’re out of sight.
- Teething. Babies start getting teeth during this time. But teeth may come in later too. You might notice your baby drooling more than usual and chewing on just about anything. Try gently rubbing the gums with one of your fingers or offer a rubber teething ring. Avoid teething gels or other medications. When your baby’s first teeth appear, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean them. Until your child learns to spit, at about age 3, use a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than the size of a grain of rice.
Promoting your baby’s development
For babies of any age, learning and play are inseparable. To support your budding adventurer:
- Create an exploration-safe environment. Keep only safe objects within your baby’s reach. Move anything that could be poisonous, pose a choking hazard or break into small pieces. Cover electrical outlets and use stairway gates. Gates between rooms can help keep your fast-moving baby in safe areas too. Place cords from blinds or shades out of reach. Install child locks on doors and cabinets. If you have furniture with sharp edges, remove it from rooms where your baby plays. The same goes for lightweight objects your baby can use to pull up into a standing position, such as plant stands, small tables, potted trees and floor lamps. Anchor bookcases, televisions and their stands to the wall.
- Keep chatting. You’ve likely been talking to your baby all along. Keep it up! Describe what you’re doing, and give your baby time to reply. After you say something, wait for your baby to repeat the sounds. Sing simple songs. Ask your baby questions that involve more than a yes or no response. You might not be able to pick words from your baby’s babble, but you can encourage a back-and-forth conversation.
- Teach cause and effect. Push the button on a musical toy and dance to the tune. Open the door on a toy barn and listen to the cow say “moo.” Help your baby do the same. Self-confidence will grow as your baby realizes how to make things happen.
- Take time to play. By now, you and your baby might be very good at games you’ve been playing, such as peekaboo, patty-cake and itsy-bitsy spider. Get creative. Arrange cushions and pillows on a carpeted floor and encourage your baby to creep or crawl over them. Stack blocks and invite your baby to knock them down. At bath time, provide small containers and plastic utensils for pouring and mixing.
- Pull out the books. Set aside time for reading every day — even if it’s only a few minutes. Reading aloud is one of the simplest ways to boost your baby’s language development. Make it more interesting with facial expressions, sound effects and voices for various characters. Store books within easy reach so that your baby can explore them whenever the mood strikes.
When something’s not right
Your baby might reach some developmental milestones ahead of schedule and lag behind a bit on others. This is common. It’s a good idea, however, to be aware of the signs or symptoms of a problem.
Consult your baby’s health care provider if you’re concerned about your baby’s development or if by the end of month nine your baby:
- Does not make eye contact or respond to their name.
- Has not learned gestures such as waving.
- Does not look for objects that you hide during games.
- Does not crawl or sit on their own.
- Uses one side of the body more than the other.
Trust your instincts. The earlier a problem is found, the earlier it can be treated. Then you can set your sights on the milestones that lie ahead.
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Dec. 22, 2022
- Altmann T, et al., eds. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 7th ed. Bantam; 2019. https://shop.aap.org. Accessed Aug. 9, 2022.
- Altmann T, et al., eds. Your Baby’s First Year. 5th ed. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2020. https://shop.aap.org. Accessed Aug. 9, 2022.
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