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 if your baby isn’t talking yet, don’t worry – your baby makes noises to get your attention and uses body language to communicate with you and let you know what they want.
Your baby also understands when you say ‘no’ or wave goodbye. 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 and even respond to ‘Come here’.
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 about without getting hurt.
Helping baby development at 9-10 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 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 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 help your baby build 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 chasey.
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 10-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.
It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for your baby, call your local Parentline. You might also like to try our ideas for dealing with anger, anxiety and stress.
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
- 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.
You should see a child 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.
Children grow and develop at different speeds. If you’re worried about whether your child’s development is ‘normal’, it might help to know that ‘normal’ varies a lot. But if you still feel that something isn’t quite right, see your child and family health nurse or GP.