Childhood Development: 9 to 12 Months
You will notice that your baby is very curious and explores his surroundings. Everything is interesting to your baby! He can now pick up those little things that he looked at before. It is really important to get down on your hands and knees and look around your home to make sure it is safe. Pick up small items your baby could put in his mouth and choke on. Shorten cords for blinds or draperies. Lock cabinets. Put safety plugs in electrical outlets. Your baby should still go to sleep on his back. However, he now knows how to roll over and can turn himself over to make sure he can breathe.

How your baby eats:
  • Your baby's using a "sippy" cup.
  • Begin spoon-feeding your baby using baby-sized utensils.
  • Introduce more solid foods but cut them into tiny, bite-size pieces first.


How to care for your baby's mouth:
  • Your baby's mouth needs to be cleaned with an infant toothbrush or wet washcloth/gauze after feedings and at bedtime. Be sure to floss between any teeth that are touching each other.
  • Your baby may be experiencing pain and/or swollen gums as her teeth begin to come in. Most babies get their first tooth at 6-7 months, although some get it as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months.
  • Try gently massaging the gums with a clean fingertip to provide relief for teething pain. Your baby may feel better when chewing on cold objects (e.g. chilled washcloth, teething ring, or cool spoon). Make sure the object won't break or make her choke.
  • Your baby may begin seeing a dentist at her first birthday and every 6 months after.


How your baby uses her hands (your baby's fine motor skill development):
  • Your baby will enjoy learning to picking up a toy in each hand and banging them together.
  • Your baby is also learning to voluntarily let go of things and will "practice" dropping objects to watch where they go.
  • Your baby will soon learn to throw things.
  • You may see that your baby wants to pick up her own food. She may eat finger foods on her own.
  • Your baby will learn how to use his thumb and index finger to pick up small objects like Cheerios.


How your baby moves (your baby's gross motor skill development):
  • Crawling is the most popular way for babies this age to get around. Make a safe, clean area on the floor for him to practice crawling.
  • Most babies walk after they become good at crawling.
  • Your baby will pull himself up from the floor to stand against a sofa, a table, or you.
  • He will then move along the furniture, supporting himself against it.
  • Your baby may express his desire to walk by taking your hand to go walking with him.
  • Your baby is preparing himself to take his first step by himself.
  • Remove or cushion furniture with sharp edges. Your baby will probably fall down a lot. Coffee table corners are especially dangerous!


How your baby communicates (your baby's speech and language development):
  • Notice that your baby starts to use her pointer finger to show interest in something and to share it with you. Your baby will also be learning to look at something you point to.
  • Notice that when you say "no," your baby may stop what she is doing and may even look at you.
  • Your baby also may recognize a few familiar words. For example, if you say "Bye-bye," your baby may lift her arms to you.
  • Your baby may say her first word during this period and know what it stands for.
  • Your baby will recognize his name when he is called.


How your baby explores (your baby's cognitive development):
  • Your baby likes to drop his toys against different surfaces. He is noticing all of the different sounds that are made.
  • Put a toy behind your back and your baby may crawl to look for it.
  • Your baby will also learn to go around, under or over things in his path for an object he wants.
  • Your baby may be happy to sit with you when you show him books with large simple pictures of ordinary things.
  • He will like simple children's songs or rhymes. Words repeated over and over help him to learn faster. He also enjoys games like "pat-a-cake" that have rhymes and hand motions.


How your baby is growing emotionally (your baby's social and emotional development):
  • Your baby may understand the word "no," but probably she will not always obey. This is normal for her developmental level.
  • Your baby may try to imitate some of the things that you do. She may try to drink from the cup the way that you do, talk on the phone, or wave bye-bye.
  • You may find that during this period, your baby will only want her mother to take care of her needs and is more hesitant around strangers. This is normal for her developmental level.


Loving and playing with your baby:
  • Items around the home such as plastic containers, lids, shoeboxes and large blocks are great toys for babies at this age. You can put a block into a shoebox, cover it with its lid, and then encourage your baby to look for the block.
  • When your baby points to something, name it for him.
  • Make a safe place for your baby to crawl and play on the floor!
  • Be sure that electrical outlets are plugged or covered. Use cabinet latches to protect your child from unsafe items. Be careful that your baby cannot get caught up in an extension, phone, curtain or blind cord. Move all cleaning supplies and poisonous materials into high cabinets that your baby cannot reach.
  • Share board and vinyl books that have simple pictures with your baby. Point and name or "play" with the pictures (cover the doggie's eyes)!
  • Your baby will crawl and walk at his own pace. Let him show you when he is ready.
  • Your baby is very curious, and may want to explore items that are off limits. This may be frustrating, but this curiosity is normal. Try to stay calm, but keep your limits clear. The word "No" doesn't work very well at this age, so focus on keeping your baby safe.


How to keep your baby healthy:


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