Development & Stimulation

By 9 months your baby is doing lots of exciting new things. Most babies can sit up for long periods with confidence and without support. They can get around on their own by creeping, crawling or standing holding on. A 9-month-old is getting quite good at manipulating small objects with their hands – and is just starting to use a “pincer grasp“. He holds his own bottle or cup, and she can finger feed. He or she babbles with repeated consonant-vowel sounds (ba-ba-ba, ma-ma-ma), but usually these don’t have meaning yet – on the other hand a 9 month old is starting to understand a good deal of what you say!.

At or shortly after 9 months a baby reaches an important cognitive (thinking) milestone – the attainment of what psychologists call “object permanence“. This means they start to understand that things still exist even when not in their immediate senses. You can tell your baby has reached this point when they start looking for toys that roll out of sight, or when they start to think “peek-a-boo” is a really funny game. This is the first step for the rapid changes that follow…

By 12 months weight will be about triple what it was at birth! Age 9 to 12 months marks a baby’s transition into “toddlerhood”. This does not necessarily mean that they will start walking – although that is possible. Some babies walk as early as 9 months, 12-13 months is average, and as late as 16 months is perfectly normal. More important to this transition are the cognitive & psychological changes that going on around this time that define the difference between a baby and a toddler. A baby takes the world as it comes, a toddler acts on the world. A baby isn’t really aware of being a separate individual yet, while a toddler knows that he is his own person – and is both thrilled and frightened by that discovery. Unlike a baby, the toddler has a mind of her own, and can make things happen . Because of this, it is around this age that parents need to start DISCIPLINING their children. It is important for parents to become good at disciplining skills, and get the child used to a certain discipline routine/style, during the 9-18m age range. Establishing good discipline habits (or changing bad ones) at a later age is a much harder proposition.

At about 12 months a baby’s words will start to have meaning. Pronunciation doesn’t count at this age – any sound that consistently means the same thing when the baby utters it is considered a word. By this definition, the average 12 month old has 2-3 words, the average 15 month old has 5-10, and the average 18 month old has >20 (and should be just starting to string a few 2-word phrases together). Reading to the child becomes important at this age – choose simple picture books, not books with story-lines yet or too many things on a page. Gradually start to expect language from your child. Don’t respond to pointing, whining, or grunting from the child when they could be using words.

Temper Tantrums start to appear shortly after the first birthday, and usually peak in intensity around 18 months of age. Remember that tantruming per se does not break any rule. We all tantrum. What you want to teach is that tantrums are not an effective way of getting either attention or what you want. Therefore, tantrums do not need to be disciplined. They should simply be ignored.

Finally, 9-18 months is a time when you want to put in place and establish any lifelong habits you want to teach – things you expect as normal daily routines that you don’t want to have to “fight about” later – even if they may not seem important yet. Examples include such things as brushing teeth, wearing shoes, and washing hair. Toddlers in this early phase will accept and adjust to such new routines easily, while older toddlers will resist.