Baby development at 9-10 months: what’s happening
Babbling, babbling, babbling – you’ll hear a lot of this from your baby as they get closer to saying their first meaningful words. Your baby might even say ‘dada’ or ‘mama’ and know what these words mean. If your baby is an early talker, they might be using 1-2 words already.
But your baby will still make noises to get your attention. They’ll also use body language to communicate with you and let you know what they want.
Your baby also understands simple words like ‘no’ and simple gestures like goodbye waves. Your baby turns when they hear their name or another sound, like a doorbell. And your baby might look for familiar objects when you name them. They might also respond to simple instructions, especially when you use visual cues. For example, your baby might come if you say ‘Come here’ and gesture for them to come.
Over the past few months, your baby has learned to show emotions like caution and fear. You might see these emotions if your baby is worried about strangers or worried about being separated from you.
Your baby still enjoys playing peekaboo and banging things together, looking at pictures in a book and finding hidden toys.
Around this age, your baby can crawl and stand up with support – for example, by holding your hand or the furniture. Your baby might walk by holding on to your hands or some furniture, or they might even be walking on their own.
At this age your baby might also:
- follow a very simple instruction without you showing them what to do – for example, ‘Wave bye bye’
- poke things using their pointer finger
- pick up things using their thumb and pointer finger together
- hold a bottle or drink from a cup you hold for them
- try to hold a spoon when they’re eating by themselves.
You’ll be surprised at how far your baby can move, so always watch your baby and never leave them unattended on a sofa, change table or bed. Now might be a good time to think about making your home safe so your baby can move around without getting hurt.
Helping baby development at 9-10 months
Here are simple things you can do to help your baby’s development at this age:
- Talk to your baby: you can help your baby understand what words mean by chatting as you do everyday activities like bathing your baby or changing nappies. Your baby is interested in conversation, so the more talk the better!
- Listen and respond to your baby’s babbling: this builds language, communication and literacy skills, and it 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. Surprise toys like a jack-in-the-box are fun from around 10 months. 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 builds your baby’s muscle strength for more complex movements like pulling to stand and walking. If your baby is crawling, you could try getting down on the floor and crawling around with them or playing a game of crawling chasey.
- Spend time playing outdoors: being out and about with you gives your baby many different experiences – there’s so much to see, smell, hear and touch. When you’re outside, remember to be safe in the sun.
- Give your baby solid foods: you could give your baby homemade foods like ground-up meats, whole rice or soft bread. Just make sure the solids are small and mushy enough to prevent choking. You could also give cereal softened with water, expressed breastmilk, formula or a little bit of full-cream pasteurised cow’s milk.
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 baby cues to let you know when they’ve had enough and what they need.
Parenting a 10-month-old
As a parent, you’re always learning. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.
It’s also important to look after yourself. Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally is good for you, and it’s good for your baby. When you’re well, you can give your baby the loving attention they need to grow and thrive.
And remember that part of looking after yourself is asking for help, especially if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or angry. There are many people who can support you and your baby, including your partner, friends, relatives, child and family health nurse and GP.
Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage. If you feel like you can’t cope, it’s OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Gently put your baby in a safe place like a cot. Go to another room to breathe deeply, or call your state or territory parenting helpline.
When to be concerned about baby development
You know your baby best. So it’s a good idea to see your child and family health nurse or GP if you have any concerns or notice that your 10-month-old has any of the following issues.
Seeing, hearing and communicating
- isn’t making eye contact with you
- isn’t following moving objects with their eyes
- has an eye that’s turned in or out most of the time
- isn’t babbling
- isn’t turning their head towards sounds or voices
- doesn’t respond to your voice, smile and other facial expressions.
Your baby doesn’t smile or show whether they’re happy or sad.
- can’t sit on their own
- uses one hand a lot more than the other.
See a child health professional if you notice that your baby has lost skills that they had before.
It’s also a good idea to 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. Signs of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.
Development usually happens in the same order in most children, but skills might develop at different ages or times. If you’re wondering whether your child’s development is on track, or if you feel that something isn’t quite right, it’s best to get help early. See your child and family health nurse or GP.