A Child's Milestones Between Months 6 - 9
Heather Morris, a Registered General Nurse and a State Certified Midwife of over 25 years, provides an overview of an infant's development during the age range of 6 months and 9 months. The below report details milestones babies may be reaching at this age, advice which may be helpful to parents and, potential red flags to look out for.
Overview of Milestones Expected Between 3 and 6 Months
Motor skills: starts to sit without support; may start crawling (9 months +); pull to standing; will purposefully move alternate feet when held in a standing position; reaches for toys without becoming unbalanced.
Cognitive development and fine motor skills: transfers toys from one hand to the other; holds small objects; visually attentive to people; starting to develop causal understanding.
Hearing, Speech and Language Development: deliberately vocalises as part of interpersonal communication; shouts to attract attention; responds when name is called (6-10 months); shows some understanding of basic words.
Social, Emotional and Behavioural Development: puts food in their mouth; looks for fallen or hidden objects; wary of strangers; plays social games; holds finger foods.
An In-depth Review of a Baby’s Development at 9 Months
By 9 months, a baby will be able to pull up into a sitting position, then sit without support, initially with a round back, and eventually with a straight back. Between 9-12 months they will start crawling which may involve pivoting round on their tummy to get into a crawling position. Some babies prefer to move around by bottom shuffling. They will be able to adjust their body posture to pick up a toy without losing their balance. Between 7 to 12 months many babies will pull themselves into a standing position using furniture to hold onto. Generally they are not able to then lower themselves to the floor with control, meaning they tend to fall back down. When held in a standing position, a baby of 9 months will step purposefully from one foot to the other.
Fine motor skills will be developing and they will be able to transfer toys from one hand to the other, and take hold of small objects, such as a piece of string attached to a toy. When offered a toy, they will reach for it and be able to grasp a moving object. They will enjoy throwing toys onto the floor and will start understanding cause and effect. Visually, they will be attentive to people and will watch activities within 3-4 metres with sustained interest for up to several minutes. They will look for fallen or partially hidden toys.
At about 7-9 months a baby will chatter using ‘baby babble’ to communicate and may shout to attract attention. They will listen carefully to everyday sounds and will turn to search for even faint sounds. Gradually a baby will respond to their own name and show understanding of simple terms like ‘no’ and ‘bye-bye’. They will distinguish between a familiar and a strange face and may be shy of strangers. Social games involving interaction like peekaboo and pat-a-cake are popular.
Generally, most babies will start teething at around six months, although some will start earlier and others later. This can be a trigger for nappy rash, possibly because the extra saliva produced when teething leads to runny, loose stools and skin irritation. Also, most babies will be weaning onto solid foods at six months, which may also leads to bouts of diarrhoea and nappy rash. A suitable barrier ointment and advice about good skincare will help protect a baby’s delicate skin.
Advice which may be useful for parents
At nine months, a baby is likely to be: sitting without support, holding finger foods, enjoying interactive games, playing with toys.
- Continue to give your baby lots of supervised time on the floor, lying on both their back and their tummy. This gives opportunities for a baby to move about and explore their environment. As they become more mobile, make sure dangerous objects are out of reach.
- Nappy free time, using lots of towels to cover the floor will let air get to their skin and help prevent nappy rash.
- By 9 months, babies become more socially interactive and it’s a good time to start taking them to a baby group, so they get used to being with other babies.
- Problem-solving toys are good at this age, such as sorting shapes, ring stacking and finding hidden toys.
Health checks / interventions (6-9 months)
The health visiting team will send the Ages and Stages Questionnaire or ASQ-3, to fill in before a baby’s 9 to 12-month review. The ASQ-3 is an assessment tool that helps parents provide information about the developmental status of their baby across five areas: communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social. If a baby was born three or more weeks prematurely and is younger than 24 months old, subtract the number of weeks premature from the child’s actual age.
Potential ‘red flag’ warnings (9 months)
Any of the following could indicate a ‘red flag’ warning at 9 months:
- Not sharing enjoyment with others using eye contact or facial expression.
- Not using gestures (e.g. pointing, showing, waving).
- Not using two-part babble (e.g. bubu, dada).
- Poor or monotonous vocalisation.
- Does not hold objects.
- Cannot move toy from one hand to another.
- Not sitting independently without support.
- Not trying to move around or pull themselves up.
- Not taking weight on their legs when held in a standing position.
It is also worth checking the ‘red flag’ warnings highlighted in previous milestones (newborns to six months).
CF Dosman, D Andrews, KJ Goulden. Evidence-based milestone ages as a framework for developmental surveillance. Paediatr Child Health 2012;17(10):561-568.
Ajay Sharma, 2014, Mary Sheridan's From Birth to Five Years: Children's Developmental Progress 4th Edition
Morris H, The bottom line on nappy rash, British Journal of Midwifery, 2012, Vol 20, No 9
Red Flags early identification guide – birth to five years, Childrens Health Queensland hospital