Baby Milestones 9 Months and Signs of Delay.

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Dr. Sandro Cantoni. Pediatrician.

Reading time: 6 minutes

At every age, your infant and toddler play, learn, talk, and move. Seeing when and how it does these things is critical. Because from this you can know if the baby’s development is normal or not.

This observation of stages of development can be done by any parent just fine. It’s not a matter of doing special investigations or tests, but just watching some simple daily activities. 

In fact, I believe that parents are the best people to evaluate the baby’s development. Because they know him perfectly in all its facets. The parent is able to pick up on nuances of behavior that the pediatrician often fails to detect.

What are the developmental milestones?

The developmental milestones are the things that most babies do at a certain age.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t reach all the developmental milestones for his age right away.  

Every baby is different. Some babies develop faster, others are a little slower. But this is often normal. 

Some babies walk at 10 months, others at 18 months. 

The achievement of developmental milestones also depends on gestational age. If the baby was born one or two months premature, then he or she will reach the milestones one or two months later. 

If you think that your baby’s development is not normal, ask your pediatrician for a checkup. 

Don’t wait until the next checkup in a few months. Do the same if you have concerns about how your baby is talking, playing, acting or moving, or any other concerns.

Don’t wait. Make your doubts and concerns clear to the pediatrician.  

If there are problems, early detection and early intervention are critical. 

What are the developmental milestones for a 9-month-old baby?

Motor skills

The child is in constant movement. He moves harmoniously and symmetrically. 

If he is lying on his back, he does not have difficulty grabbing his feet. 

He can turn well from supine to prone position and vice versa. 

When he is lying on his belly, he leans on his arms, with his hands open, and his head well raised. He tries to grab something in front of him and he can move forward or backward. He turns and changes positions.  

He often sits up on his own, and holds this position with confidence and balance. 

He sits while playing and exploring objects. He may lean forward to pick up a toy, then sit back down. 

He is also able to put his hand on one side and the other in this position to keep from falling. This is called the parachute reflex.  

He can pick up things that are in front of him and he can move forward and backward. He either gets on all fours and crawls, or he drags or rolls over. 

Sometimes the baby does not crawl at 9 months. Some babies skip this step and start walking directly around 11-12 months.  

If he is put upright, he leans well against the surface and supports his weight.

If he finds a piece of furniture, such as a chair or small table or the couch, he can often pull himself upright, stay there for a few seconds, then fall back on his butt. 

He picks up toys or objects well with the use of his thumb. Drops them if he proposes one that interests him more. Passes toys from one hand to the other. And often puts them in his mouth. 

Picks up, holds, and manipulates an object in each hand and bangs objects together.

Start by pointing out with the index what interests you, such as book images. 

Vision and hearings

The child now can see well and looks at you while you are talking to him or if you are in the room. If he’s not too distracted by a game, he turns to the noises in his environment.  Most importantly he reacts if you call him by his name.  

Communication and Language

Your child expresses himself better and better, with bubbles in long repetitive strings of syllables (like ma-ma, da-da) and vocalizes deliberately to communicate his feelings, of happiness, anger or boredom.  He begins to imitate simple vocal games, such as the sound of kissing, coughing, and others (such as simple animal noises).

Social and emotional development

He no longer smiles at just any face, because he distinguishes between known and unknown people;

You can clearly see that he is trying to draw attention to himself. If you talk to each other parents, ignoring him for a few minutes, he looks at you and after a while starts making vocalizations to be noticed, and protests if you don’t look at him. 

He imitates the gestures of others and is very receptive to their emotions, for example if you give him a kiss, he will like to give you a kiss in turn and see your reaction of joy. He will then imitate your reaction of joy when you give him a kiss.

When he is agitated or crying, he is able to calm down on his own. 

Intellectual development

During the game, the baby finds a hidden object. 

He is able to play on his own, even if for a short time. The process of his independence begins. 

Imitates gestures, such as “hello”, likes to play hide-and-seek, for example, laughs and reacts if you cover your face with your hands, or hide, then suddenly reappear.

He is interested in his environment and the people around him. 

What are the warning signs for possible developmental delay at 9 months?

Signs of retardation are for example these: 

The baby does not move symmetrically. For example, he moves one hand much more than the other. Or one leg or foot moves differently than the other.

In addition, he/she is unable to change position (e.g. turn over if lying down).

When placed supine (lying on his back), the baby does not grab his feet.

When the child is placed prone (lying on his/her stomach), he/she cannot turn over.

The infant is unable to sit up.

When placed upright, does not maintain weight by placing the soles of the feet.

The baby does not pass objects or toys from one hand to another.

He does not explore the environment, objects or toys (with the mouth, eyes, hands)

The infant makes a few sounds, but does not have lallation (e.g. does not say mamama, bababa, etc… ).

He Does not laugh.

Then the child does not turn towards the source of sounds or voices and does not react when you call him/her by his/her name.

The child is not interested in his surroundings.

He does not look at your face, he prefers to look at an object. 

If you indicate something by pointing with your finger, the child does not look in that direction.

If your 9 month baby has any of these symptoms or if you are worried, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider. Don’t wait. Early detection of a possible problem is crucial. Early treatment is critical.

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About the author

Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.

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