Important Milestones: Your Baby By Nine Months
CDC’s milestones and parent tips have been updated and new checklist ages have been added (15 and 30 months). Due to COVID-19, updated photos and videos have been delayed but will be added back to this page in the future. For more information about the recent updates to CDC’s developmental milestones, please review the Pediatrics journal article and these important key points.
How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are things most children (75% or more) can do by a certain age.
Check the milestones your child has reached by the end of 9 months by completing a checklist with CDC’s free Milestone Tracker mobile app, for iOS and Android devices, using the Digital Online Checklist, or by printing the checklist [714 KB, 2 Pages, Print Only] below.
“Learn the Signs. Act Early.” materials are not a substitute for standardized, validated developmental screening tools.
What most babies do by this age:
- Is shy, clingy, or fearful around strangers
- Shows several facial expressions, like happy, sad, angry, and surprised
- Looks when you call her name
- Reacts when you leave (looks, reaches for you, or cries)
- Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo
- Makes a lot of different sounds like “mamamama” and “bababababa”
- Lifts arms up to be picked up
Cognitive Milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
- Looks for objects when dropped out of sight (like his spoon or toy)
- Bangs two things together
Movement/Physical Development Milestones
- Gets to a sitting position by herself
- Moves things from one hand to her other hand
- Uses fingers to “rake” food towards himself
- Sits without support
Other important things to share with the doctor…
- What are some things you and your baby do together?
- What are some things your baby likes to do?
- Is there anything your baby does or does not do that concerns you?
- Has your baby lost any skills he/she once had?
- Does your baby have any special healthcare needs or was he/she born prematurely?
Concerned About Your Child’s Development?
You know your child best. Don’t wait. If your child is not meeting one or more milestones, has lost skills he or she once had, or you have other concerns, act early. Talk with your child’s doctor, share your concerns, and ask about developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern.
If you or the doctor are still concerned:
- Ask for a referral to a specialist who can evaluate your child more; and
- Call your state or territory’s early intervention program to find out if your child can get services to help. Learn more and find the number at cdc.gov/FindEI.
For more on how to help your child, visit cdc.gov/Concerned.
As your baby’s first teacher, you can help his or her learning and brain development. Try these simple tips and activities in a safe way. Talk with your baby’s doctor and teachers if you have questions or for more ideas on how to help your baby’s development.
- Repeat your baby’s sounds and say simple words using those sounds. For example, if your baby says “bababa,” repeat “bababa,” then say “book.”
- Place toys on the ground or on a play mat a little out of reach and encourage your baby to crawl, scoot, or roll to get them. Celebrate when she reaches them.
- Teach your baby to wave “bye-bye” or shake his head “no.” For example, wave and say “bye-bye” when you are leaving. You can also teach simple baby sign language to help your baby tell you what he wants before he can use words.
- Play games, such as peek-a-boo. You can cover your head with a cloth and see if your baby pulls it off.
- Play with your baby by dumping blocks from a container and putting them back in together.
- Play games with your baby, such as my turn, your turn. Try this by passing a toy back and forth.
- “Read” to your baby. Reading can be talking about pictures. For example, while looking at books or magazines, name the pictures as you point to them.
- Limit screen time (TV, tablets, phones, etc.) to video calling with loved ones. Screen time is not recommended for children younger than 2 years of age. Babies learn by talking, playing, and interacting with others.
- Find out about choking risks and safe foods to feed your baby. Let him practice feeding himself with his fingers and using a cup with a small amount of water. Sit next to your baby and enjoy mealtime together. Expect spills. Learning is messy and fun!
- Ask for behaviors that you want. For example, instead of saying “don’t stand,” say “time to sit.”
- Help your baby get used to foods with different tastes and textures. Foods can be smooth, mashed, or finely chopped. Your baby might not like every food on the first try. Give her a chance to try foods again and again.
- Say a quick and cheerful goodbye instead of sneaking away so your baby knows you are leaving, even if he cries. He will learn to calm himself and what to expect. Let him know when you return by saying “Daddy’s back!”
- Have routines for sleeping and feeding. Babies do better when they know what to expect.
- Stay close by as your baby explores and moves around your home so she knows that you are near.
- Make sure your baby gets enough sleep: 4- to 12-month-olds need 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day (including naps). Consistent sleep times make it easier!
- Take care of yourself. Parenting can be hard work! It is easier to enjoy your growing baby and be a loving parent when you feel good yourself.
- Make it a game when your baby drops things. Hand the item back to her so she can drop it again.
- Pay attention to the way he reacts to new situations and people; try to continue to do things that make your baby happy and comfortable.
- Describe what your baby is looking at; for example, “red, round ball.”
- Play a game that teaches your baby to look for things she sees you hide, such as a toy under a blanket.
- Give your baby safe places to explore. Baby-proof your home. For example, move sharp or breakable things out of reach. Lock away medicines, chemicals, and cleaning products. Save the Poison Help Line number, 800-222-1222, in all phones.
- Use your words, facial expressions, and voice to show what you think your baby is feeling (sad, mad, happy). For example, tell him “You are sad, let’s see if we can make you feel better.”
- Put your baby close to things that she can pull up on safely.
Special acknowledgments to the subject matter experts and others who contributed to the review of data and selection of developmental milestones, especially Paul H. Lipkin, MD, Michelle M. Macias, MD, Julie F. Pajek, PhD, Judith S. Shaw, EdD, MPH, RN, Karnesha Slaughter, MPH, Jane K. Squires, PhD, Toni M. Whitaker, MD, Lisa D. Wiggins, PhD, and Jennifer M. Zubler, MD.
Sincere gratitude to Natalia Benza, MD and José O. Rodríguez, MD, MBA for their thoughtful review of the Spanish-language translation of these milestones.