Updated February 2019
From Playfully, an app and newsletter that tells you everything you need to know about supporting your child’s development through play.
By guest writer Manisha Shah: Lucie’s List subscriber, mother, software engineer and childhood development nerd.
The moments of joy in parenting often sneak up on you unexpectedly. One moment you’re grimacing as you change yet another dirty diaper, and the next, your little one makes a brand new sound or greets you with a heart-crushing smile that brightens your whole world.
I remember the first time my daughter grabbed a chair and pulled herself up to a standing position. She flashed me the proudest grin, then lost her balance and fell flat on her face.
Witnessing her stand for the first time was so exhilarating, it became my mission to elicit that same magic all over again (except this time I’d make sure to put some pillows on the floor!). As your little one reaches major milestones (or even minor ones), you will start to experience more of these magical moments.
Along with the magic may come a new feeling of responsibility for helping your baby thrive in his environment. Luckily, one of the best ways to help your baby grow is to play with him in simple, developmentally appropriate ways.
Your Baby’s Development: What’s Happening Now
It’s not just your imagination—your baby is developing new skills every day, and communicating with him is finally becoming more of a two-way street. He’s experimenting with different emotional expressions, developing a sense of humor (have you noticed your baby reach out to give you something, only to yank it away when you try to grab it?), and may even be helping you put on his clothes (or fighting you on it—either way!).
Separation anxiety peaks around 7 to 9 months, and your baby may get upset when you put him down or walk more than a few feet away. You may have also noticed your baby only wants to be comforted by you—not just anyone will do anymore. While this might make dropping him off with a new babysitter—or even a grandparent he doesn’t see very often— incredibly difficult (and likely emotional … for both of you!), this preferential treatment is developmentally appropriate. It’s tough right now, but just remember: like everything else, it’s a phase… so try to enjoy being his number one, and don’t be afraid to offer plenty of affection.
Your baby is also getting better at understanding your attempts to communicate with him. Linguistically, he can better understand the tone of your voice, and he may even try to mimic the sounds you’re making. Physically, your baby may either be crawling or gearing up to do so. He may also be trying to pull up and stand.
Bottom line: the moment your baby is mobile, a whole new world of play opens up!
Your baby’s brain is ripe for sensory stimulation at this age, and as his favorite playmate, you have the awesome opportunity to teach him fun new games that will also help him learn. Double win!
9-Month-Old Baby Activities: Our Favorite Games
* For more activity ideas that are personalized to your child, you can sign up for the Playfully app (for free!) here.
If you’re the “teacher” type, these activities are also fun to do in a playgroup setting. Trust me, your fellow moms will appreciate it!
Grab a bucket and several blocks.
Place a block in the bucket and say “boom!” when the block hits the bottom of the bucket.
Repeat several times.
Drop another block in the bucket, but this time be silent. See if your baby tries to say “boom.” Let her enjoy dumping out the container or taking the blocks out.
This encourages: saying single syllable words, understanding cause and effect
Grab a toy that squeaks, show it to your baby, then hide it behind your back and ask, “Where is the toy?” Alternatively, you can also hide the toy under a blanket.
If your baby seems confused, squeeze the toy a few times to make it squeak. Give him plenty of time to look around for the toy, encouraging him to find it.
Continue to hide the toy and let him search for it as long as he finds the game fun.
This encourages: memory, object permanence, auditory skills
If you have a toy instrument, you can use it for this game. If not, use any real instruments you may have (piano, guitar) or create an instrument using coffee cans, pots, pans, or wooden spoons.
Demonstrate how to play the instrument to your baby. Extra points for singing while you demonstrate!
Pass the instrument over to your baby and watch her play as long as she’s content. Use facial expressions to encourage her engagement. Take turns making music.
This encourages: hand-eye coordination, self-esteem and social skills, mimicking behavior
Get a medium-sized ball and sit a few feet away from your baby.
Roll the ball towards him and watch him stop it. Applaud and ask him to roll it back to you.
Cheer for your baby, even if the ball does not come back to you. You can assist him in returning the ball to you and repeat the game, talking about how you are taking turns.
This encourages: taking turns, mimicking behavior, understanding objects in motion, gross motor skills
We hope you enjoy these activities. Now, onto playtime!
Back to: Infant Topics
Related: Toy Storage Ideas
Next in this series:
- Activities for your 13-month-old
- Activities for your 15-month-old (coming soon)