Baby’s First Year: Month 9
- September 13, 2021
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hello, moms and dads, and welcome to Month 9 with your baby and Month 9 with my baby, Bracey. Bracey is now 39 weeks old, but only 29 weeks old in terms of his corrected age, so in terms of developmental milestones he’s closer to a 7-month-old baby than a 9-month-old. That said, for the first time this month, Bracey made his way into the growth curve for weight (he had entered the growth curves for height and head circumference during months 7 and 8). So as the days, weeks, and months of his first year unfold, we’re seeing our little premie catch up with other babies that share his birth date. Thadda baby!
Growth and Development of a 9 Month Old Baby
Bracey’s 9 Month Checkup with the Pediatrician
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies see their pediatricians at birth, 3-5 days after birth, and then at months 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24. Keep up with these appointments since it is important to have your doctor assess your baby’s development, offer tips, and administer vaccines according to the correct schedule. Since Bracey was born prematurely at 30 weeks of gestation, he sees his doctor each month. At his 9 month doctor’s appointment, Bracey’s pediatrician assessed him exactly as he had in prior appointments: he checked his ears and throat, measured his length and the circumference of his head, weighed him, and then checked out his back and neck strength and responsiveness by sitting him up and observing him in Tummy Time. Bracey sat up on the scale while being weighed and craftily dislodged the doctor’s informational pamphlets. The doctor told us to stick to the same diet he had recommended for month 8, which I will describe later.
What happens at the 9 Month Pediatrician Appointment
At their 9 month pediatrician visit, babies do not routinely receive doses of the recommended vaccines; some may get a shot if they have missed one previously. But, your doctor will be assessing the following 9-month development milestones. (Bracey is doing only a few of these at this point — I’ve indicated which ones with an *). Even if your baby was not a premie, remember that many babies are not doing all of these things by 9 months.
- getting into a sitting position
- crawling, cruising (walking while holding onto something or someone), creeping (“army crawl”) or butt scooching (some babies get so adept at this that they skip crawling and cruising)
- pulling up to stand or standing while holding onto something else
- reaching for a toy*
- responding to name
- laughing and giggling*
- copying sounds
- rolling from front to back and back to front*
- pointing or using gestures to communicate
- grabbing finger foods with pincer grip
- saying “dada” or “mama” (Bracey is uttering single syllables with a consonant and vowel: “ga,” “da” and “ma.”
Rather than comparing your baby to others, which can cause a lot of stress, discuss any concerns about your baby’s development with your doctor.
Growth Curve of Premature Babies
As discussed in prior weeks, doctors hope that by the age of 2, premature babies will have “caught up” with babies that share their birth date. Until then, when it comes to assessing developmental milestones, they advise calculating a corrected age by subtracting the number of weeks by which a baby was premature from their age. That said, since month 6, we have seen Bracey slowly make his way into the growth curves for height, weight and head circumference. At month 9, he is solidly within all three of these curves, with overall trajectories that are steeper than the curves.
Growth of a 34 Week Old Baby
The average 9-month-old baby boy weighs 19 pounds 10 ounces (8.9 kilos) and the average baby girl weighs 18 pounds 2 ounces (8.2 kilos). At his 9 month checkup, Bracey weighed 7.580 kilos (16.7 pounds), up from 1.490 kilos (3.278 pounds) at birth, so he has gained a little over 6 kilos or 13.4 pounds since birth. Go Bracey!
Anxiety over Milestones for a 9 Month Old Baby
I’ve listed the developmental milestones for 9 month old babies above. Assessing your baby’s milestones is important since you want to become aware of any possible delays as early as possible. That said, premies — and all babies, in fact — follow a unique trajectory. Ideally, milestones are something you delight over rather than obsess with. To keep the mentality of assessing whether my baby measures up at bay, I’ve learned to take a different approach: focusing on the activities and stimulation we provide to our baby.
Intellectual Activities for a 9 Month Old Baby
Talking, singing, reading, and playing with blocks and safe toys remain the primary intellectual activities at this point. When you can, engage in these activities with your baby, narrating aloud what is happening and what objects your baby is interacting with, versus just leaving your baby to play alone with toys. Describe colors, shapes, patterns, sounds and whatever you see and hear. The constant stream of explanations through words will stimulate your child’s language development. Studies have shown that the more words a baby hears, the earlier they will understand language and begin to talk (and the more robustly their brain will develop).
Explore, explore, explore
Babies learn by observing, touching, and witnessing cause and effect in the outside world so encouraging your baby’s autonomous exploration is a must. For individual playtime (when you need to get stuff done!) try to allow your baby some choice over what to do within a safe area. This means a messy house — get used to it. Splatter blocks and safe toys around your rug (or within a play area if your baby is moving around) and let your baby delve into what suits their fancy.
Encourage your baby to be in the world, interacting and touching anything and everything that’s safe, and interacting with as many people as possible. Head outside and put your baby on the grass. Place stems in their little hands (making sure they don’t stuff them into their mouths). Think about it: your day becomes more interesting when it includes diverse elements. Putting as many fun activities and people as you can into your baby’s day likewise enhances their life experience. If close friends and family aren’t part of your everyday, make pals in the park whose children can become your baby’s pals. Being a mom or dad can be isolating and you’ll also benefit from the conversation and community.
Physical Activities for a 9 Month Old Baby
Adapt playtime to your baby’s physical capabilities while encouraging them to grow and develop new skills. Start playing with a small boll, rolling it towards your baby and encouraging your baby to bat it back. Place an attractive toy slightly out of reach to encourage your baby to crawl, cruise or walk towards it (if they are not yet moving in those ways). A suspended seat in which your baby can float while putting gentle pressure on their feet and legs encourages balance. Hold your baby’s arms above their head without stretching them out (being careful not to pull too much which could place strain on their shoulders), place their legs in front of yours and walk straight-legged in a straw-man like fashion to encourage mobility. Many of these games will come easily to you. Y0u’ll realize what the next step is for your baby, and adapt play time to suit that skill.
Baby’s Vision, Coordination and Speech at 8 Months
By 9 months, you will see your baby’s vision and coordination become more solid. Your baby will smile at you from further away and will take note of more distant objects and lights. They will reach for objects with greater precision, pick them up, and inevitably try to put them in their mouth.
At 9 months, babies continue their babbling with sounds like “ba-ba,” “ga-ga,” or “da-da.” Many babies will employ an increasing array of consonants at this point, pairing them with vowels and maintaining two syllables. Bracey only employs one syllable. Some babies will begin to say “Mama” and “Dada” in relation to their parents.
As noted in prior weeks, in terms of hearing, between 7 and 12 months, many babies will respond to their own name, look or turn in the direction of sounds, listen when spoken to, respond to simple requests like “come here,” look at things you talk about and begin to repeat sounds. Again, this varies tremendously and FYI none of my children did any of this until around the 1 year mark.
Separation Anxiety and Attachment to a Lovey
By nine months, many babies have gotten really clever and recognize that Mommy or Daddy can’t always be there. They find a “substitute” object which is cuddly, warm and soft. Who knew we were so easily replaced, right? The milestone of adopting such objects takes place for many babies at around 9 months of age. To prevent meltdowns when the lovely gets lost or has to be cleaned, try having a lookalike on hand. I remember getting a call from a close friend years ago whose little boy had lost a toy bear I had purchased for him as a gift. He’d left it on the subway. They had gone all over the city to find it and her son was despondent. In such an unfortunate circumstance, it’s good to have a backup lovey on hand.
What Solid Foods do I Give a 9 Month Old Baby?
At 9 months, my doctor advised the same diet he had prescribed for month 8. Bracey’s diet therefore continues to consist of 4 meals given over the course of the day. In the morning, he nurses and then has cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula. When he wakes up from his morning nap, I breastfeed him again and then he has lunch, which is a pureed soup with chicken, beef or fish (we vary week by week, freezing one week’s worth at a time in 150ml milk bottles) and a wide array of vegetables (and on two days, he gets half an egg yoke with a tablespoonful of olive oil). After his first afternoon nap, I breastfeed him again and he then has puréed fresh fruit, such as mango, pear, strawberries, peaches, and melon. This is a time of day when I tend to have more of an opportunity to offer finger foods, so I do slices of soft fruits instead of his purée. My doctor also told me I could substitute infant yoghurt for the fruit feeding, but I don’t do so since Bracey already gets so much milk. Bracey takes another nap from around 6-7pm after which point I nurse him again and give a bit more cereal (on most days) before putting him to bed. With my older babies, I was advised to gradually work my way to thicker purées, and many parents do this before starting finger foods, but my doctor has not mentioned this to me.
What Finger Foods Can I Give my Baby at 9 Months
Depending on when you began introducing finger foods, you can expand the repertoire slightly by 9 months. Parents favoring a baby led weaning approach begin giving finger foods on the earlier side at 6 months, and some begin later at 8-9 months. Try to make sure that by 9 months, finger food feedings are well incorporated into your baby’s day. If you are following the baby led weaning approach, cut your foods a bit longer and coat them with cracked up Cheerios to make them easier for baby to grasp.
Here’s a terrific list of foods to give. I opt for foods that are easy to prepare and do not stain when they get inevitably get tossed to the wayside. Smile.
- Avocado (slices or small chunks)
- soft fruit (slices of banana, peach, pear)
- cooked sweet potatoes (sliced or cubed)
- cooked green vegetables (steam until soft and cut into small pieces)
- beets (yellow to avoid stains!)
- cheese (soft cubes of crumbly cheeses like Feta)
- navy beans or lentils (smash a bit beforehand)
- meat (ground beef or turkey, diced chicken breast)
- fish (flounder, cod or salmon)
- boiled or scrambled egg (traditionally discouraged but now safe)
- yoghurt (serve with spoon or let baby eat with their hands — messy!)
- oats (cook and let cool in small round shapes)
Palmer Grasp, Rasking Grasp, Inferior Pincer Grasp, and Pincer Grasp
One of the reasons finger food feedings are such a great idea — in addition to encouraging baby’s growing autonomy — is that the act of self-feeding with fingers and hands encourages fine motor skills. Here’s the lowdown on baby’s developing grasping reflexes. By 7-9 months, many babies have mastered the palmer grasp (the ability to bring the fingers in towards the palm, which allows your baby to curl their finger around an object), some have perfected the raking grasp (by which they use their hand like a rake and curl their fingers over an object to pull it towards them), and some will have mastered what is called an “inferior pincer grasp” which means that they use the pads of the thumb and fingers to pick up and hold objects (this usually takes place between months 7 and 8). Finger foods encourage your baby to develop this inferior pincer grasp since grabbing these foods via the palmer grasp doesn’t work too well.
Breastfeeding, Solid Foods and Sleeping Schedule for a 9 Month Old Baby
How Much Breastmilk does my 9 Month Old Baby Need
As I explained in earlier months, my doctor advised that given the introduction of solids, babies this age need less breastmilk than previously, and said to aim to give Bracey between 16 and 24 ounces (480-720ml) of breastmilk a day divided between 4 feedings, so figure 4-6 ounces (120-180ml) per feeding. Some doctors recommend slightly more or 24-32 ounces (720ml-950ml) but I have to say that this depends greatly on how much your baby is eating. Bracey is eating hardy meals at this point and I would guess drinking approximately 4-6 ounces of breastmilk per feed. I can’t tell because I have stopped giving bottles due to our issues with nipple confusion, but that is my estimation.
Battling Biting During Breastfeeding
In addition to continuing to get very distracted during the past month, Bracey bit quite a lot during breastfeeding sessions. I follow the same technique I have always employed, which involves taking him off the breast, saying a strong “NO, NO BITE ” or to use better grammar “NO BITING” and looking at him with a somewhat stern expression while trying not to crack a smile. He usually doesn’t understand why I am looking at him like that and starts laughing at me or trying to swat at me with his hand! His little two teeth have gotten sharper so the biting really hurts. He seems to do it more often when he is less hungry versus at the beginning of a feed. In a few extreme cases, I have had to end the feed although I try not to do that.
Breastfeeding, Solids and Sleep Schedule for 9 Month Old Baby
During Month 8, solid foods will remain one of the cornerstones of your daily schedule. Here’s the schedule that is working nicely for us. I am giving Bracey a wider array of vegetables, fruits and proteins and more mixtures. I’ve adjusted the amounts below to comply with American guidelines.
- 7am — breastmilk then multigrain cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula. Sleep 9:30-11am.
- 11am – breastmilk then 2-3 tablespoons of protein (fish, chicken, meat) mixed vegetable puree w/ egg yoke and olive oil 2x per week. Can also try finger foods. Sleep 1:30-3pm.
- 3 pm — breastmilk then 2-3 tablespoons of mixed fresh fruit puree. Can substitute for finger foods. Sleep 6-7pm.
- 7pm — breastmilk then 2-3 tablespoons of multigrain cereal mixed with breastmilk. Sleep 8:30-11pm.
How to Feed Solid Foods to an 9 Month Old Baby
This month, we began placing Bracey more often in the high chair and he really likes the independence there. We still feed him on our laps, as well. Be careful that your baby is carefully strapped into your high chair. Ours allows a lot of wiggle room and I put a pillow along the back to ensure Bracey does not slip out.
Bottle Feeding an 9 Month Old Baby
How Much Formula to Give a Nine-Month-Old Baby
As is the case with breastmilk, at 9 months, the amount of formula your baby consumes likely will begin to decline based on the introduction of solid foods. Nine-month-old babies should be consuming about 8 ounces (180-240ml) of formula per feeding over four feedings, sometimes five.
Formula Feeding, First Foods and Sleeping Schedule for a 9 Month Old Baby
- 7am — bottle then multigrain cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula. Sleep 9:30-11am.
- 11am – bottle then 2-3 tablespoons of protein (fish, chicken, meat) mixed vegetable puree w/ egg yoke and olive oil 2x per week. Can also try finger foods. Sleep 1:30-3pm.
- 3pm — bottle then 2-3 tablespoons of mixed fresh fruit puree. Can substitute for finger foods. Sleep 6-7pm.
- 7pm — bottle then 2-3 tablespoons of multigrain cereal mixed with breastmilk. Sleep 8:30-11pm.
At his 9 month appointment, Bracey weighed 7.580 kilos (16.7 pounds). He’s very close to crawling and just needs to keep his little tushy up into the air and learn how to “put one [knee] in front of the other“. He squirms with his legs behind him, hoisting himself way up with his arms into Cobra pose. I’m anticipating that he crawls over the next month and then God help me! Smile. It’s funny because we parents want these milestones to take place so desperately and then when they do, we lose some of the prior comforts of the past, such as not having to run around non-stop after the baby.
Bracey added “da” to his list of sounds so the race has started between those promoting “ma” and those promoting “da”. We invested in more Eric Carle books and he’s having fun reading them, although we are the ones having more fun. He tends to blurt out alot more sounds when we begin reading. The month was topped off by a very special day: Bracey’s baptism.
He is breastfeeding well (some days are better than others) and sleeping at night from around 11pm to as late as 9am and sometimes even 10 in the morning (depending on when I fed him the prior night). We’re so proud of our little engine that could.
Thank you so much for reading and watching and see you back soon for Month 10. Wow, my baby’s first year is flying by.