Your baby is 9 months and mobile. This is the stage where you need to up your game. You turn your back for one minute and your child has crawled into some trouble. This stage is fun, but busy. Now is the time to seriously childproof your house.
- Car: Your child should still be in a rear-facing car seat. Depending on the brand of infant seat you have (some are designed to take a bigger child than others), this is the age when most babies are moving out of the infant seat to a convertible car seat. The convertible car seat is the biggest of the seats. It straps directly into the car and isn’t intended for moving (there isn’t a base). The seat stays in the car and the baby comes out. It can go rear- and forward-facing—hence the convertible name. .
- Important Note: As of 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends car seats remain rear-facing until 2 years of age. I know, you’re going to say, “But my child’s legs don’t fit.” The newest studies show that a child is 5 times safer when rear-facing than forward-facing. It is easier to fix a child’s broken leg than a child’s brain injury from a car accident. (Which seat is best? I still like the car seat style with a 5-point harness that allows you to pull the straps tight against the child’s chest–see my recommended products.)
- The crib is the safest place. Slats should be less than 2 3/8 inches apart. Now is the time to lower the crib mattress to the lowest position (because your baby is going to start pulling to a standing position). If your child is a monkey and tries to climb out, see HOW TO STOP YOUR BABY FROM CLIMBING OUT OF THE CRIB.
- It’s ok if your baby rolls over and sleeps on her belly at this stage.
- Should be sleeping 10+ hours at night and taking 2 naps a day. Typically this is when babies are the “best sleepers.”
- Childproofing: Get down at the toddler level and see what he or she can reach in your home. Now that your child is mobile, don’t underestimate what he/she can get into.
- Use outlet covers.
- Place safety gates in front of stairs.
- Ensure chemicals/medications/cleaners are out of reach or are locked.
- Store guns with ammunition separate and in a gun safe.
- Keep toys with small parts and sharp objects out of reach.
- Water heater: Keep the temperature on your water heater set below 120°F (to prevent scalding).
- Smoking: Keep your home and car completely smoke free.
- Sun: Limit sun exposure; use sun protective clothing and sunscreen. For tips on sunscreen, see FOR HEAVEN’S SAKES, USE SUNSCREEN.
- Media: Technically, children this age aren’t supposed to be exposed to media (e.g., TV, movies, ipads, phones). There’s a fair amount of scientific literature that talks about the negative effects of too much media at an early age. It’s best to steer clear.
- Milk: Continue to use breast milk or formula. While your baby can eat milk products (like yogurt and cheese), he or she still needs the extra nutrition that comes from breast milk or formula. Most babies this age drink 20-32 oz. per day (depending on how much food they eat).
- Water and sippy cups: If you haven’t already, now is the time to give your baby a sippy cup with water. At a year, you are going to transition your baby off a bottle and we want your baby to be good at using a sippy cup. Typically, a baby of this age will only take a few sips at a time (so he or she won’t get more than just a few ounces of water total in a day).
- Solid foods: Your baby should be getting really good at taking table foods at this point. Make sure and give your baby bites of essentially everything you are eating (meats, veggies, fruits, etc.). The only “don’t feed” food at this point is raw honey (for risk of botulism) until 12 months of age. You may also need to avoid nuts or nut-containing foods if your child is at risk for anaphylaxis (see NEW SCIENCE SAYS FEED NUTS TO YOUR BABY). Even if your baby doesn’t have a lot of teeth, just cut foods into tiny bites, so he or she can gum it and swallow it. Allow your baby to feed him or herself. Prepare yourself for the epic mess, but it’s an important part of developing those fine motor skills.
- Baby foods: Many babies this age are still doing baby foods. More and more of the diet, however, should transition to regular foods. It’s typical that at 9 months, half of the foods are baby style and half are table foods. However, by 12 months, it will be all table foods, so start the transition.
- Crawling (some are still “army style,” but most eventually conquer the hands and knee style within the month)
- Standing next to something and possibly cruising along furniture
- Says mama and dada
- Wants to feed him or herself (very messy with hands)
- Waves “bye-bye” (typically around 10 months)
- Has a pincer grasp (meaning can pick up small items between the index finger and thumb)
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