Baby development at 8-9 months: what’s happening
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 their brain. This improves your baby’s memory and you might notice your baby forming stronger attachments to their 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. Separation anxiety and anxiety around strangers is pretty common at this age. It might help to know that these are normal parts of child development.
You’ll start to get an idea of what your child might be like in the future, as they start showing you their personality. Your baby’s emotions are maturing too. For example, your baby 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, your baby might look towards it. Your baby is still babbling and might say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ without knowing what these words mean.
At this age your baby might also:
- copy sounds
- make noises to get your attention
- explore everything around them – for example, they might ring bells, bang blocks and find hidden objects
- stop what they’re doing when they hear you say ‘no’
- practise their eating skills by holding, biting and chewing food
- start feeding themselves with their fingers.
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 helps them understand what words mean. The more talk the better!
- Listen and respond to your baby’s babbling: this builds language, communication and literacy skills and helps your baby feel ‘heard’, loved and valued. It’s important to respond by talking or making sounds in your own warm and loving way. Your baby enjoys hearing your voice go up and down and loves watching your facial expressions as you talk.
- 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 your baby feel loved and secure.
- Read together: you can develop your baby’s imagination by reading, talking about the pictures in books and telling stories. These activities also help your baby to understand language and learn to read as they get 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 them, or playing a game of chasey.
- Make your home safe so your baby can move about without getting hurt.
Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, they might be too tired or hungry. Your baby will use special baby cues to let you know when they’ve had enough and what they need.
Parenting a 9-month-old
As a parent, you’re always learning. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.
When you’re focused on looking after a baby, you might forget or run out of time to look after yourself. But looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally helps your baby grow and thrive.
Sometimes you might feel frustrated, upset or overwhelmed. It’s OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Put your baby in a safe place like a cot, or ask someone else to hold your baby for a while. Try going to another room to breathe deeply, or call 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.
When to be concerned about baby development
Seeing, hearing and communicating
- isn’t making eye contact with you, isn’t following moving objects with their eyes or has an eye that is turned in or out most of the time
- isn’t babbling
- isn’t turning their head towards sounds or voices.
Your baby doesn’t show whether they’re happy or sad or shows little or no affection for carers – for example, your baby doesn’t smile at you.
- isn’t rolling
- can’t sit up on their 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 they had before.
You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in birthing mothers or postnatal depression in non-birthing parents. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.