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Stages of Play: Seven to Nine Months Old

Get to know your baby as their personality starts to shine through.

Stages of Play: Seven to Nine Months Old

Want to know what to expect from your growing baby? These guides share general timelines for developmental milestones and how to encourage new stages of play.

Before you get get started, learn how to calculate your baby's adjusted age based on their due date and birth date. Much of your baby's development is tied to time in utero so babies born early may need time to reach full-term development.

What to expect at this stage

Look at this little person in front of you. A personality, a giggle, a one-of-a-kind smile. They quickly weave their way into your heart, don’t they? While you may be comparing your baby to those of friends and family, be mindful that many babies develop at their own pace, and this age is where you may see some of those gaps.

Remember the three Ps: practice, patience, and baby-proofing. Before we hop into this section, this is a gentle reminder to put a child lock on your toilet. You’ll thank us later.

It’s incredible how much can change in such a short period. Many babies are consistently rolling now, ideally to both sides (if not, some baby bodywork can do wonders). Tummy time will (hopefully) be second nature at this age, and your baby will enjoy pushing up into their arms and lifting their head high. For yoga fanatics, think cobra pose.

With a whole world to explore, tummy time will get old quickly, and your baby will likely hit some mini-milestones around now.

  • They may begin to push themselves backward with their hands, rotate 360 degrees with their body, attempt an army crawl (pull themselves forward with their hands while pushing on their feet), and finally, a more fluid crawl.
  • Sitting is another milestone you may see at this stage. While some babies take a little bit longer to sit independently, many can get in and out of sitting and play while seated for some time.
  • You may notice your baby pulling themselves up to a standing position. To encourage these new developmental skills, you can put toys in different places and at different heights.

Is your baby eyeing your sandwich? Their interest in food is growing…and exploring food, whether purees or solids, is a ton of fun. Your baby may be interested in feeding themselves with a spoon or their hands; this is part of learning and exploration. Yes, it might be messy…but there’s nothing cuter than a baby with spaghetti on its head.

  • Food introduction is less about the calories and more about exploring different tastes, smells, textures, sizes, and working to move the muscles of the mouth, cheeks, jaw, and tongue.
  • As with every new skill, your baby needs lots of practice to get proficient in managing different foods, so make sure to offer a variety of nutritious options.

mom playing peekaboo with baby

How to incorporate play at this stage

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The seven to nine-month age range is also when imitation becomes a big part of play and development.

  • Your baby will enjoy imitating motor play (i.e., clapping or drumming) and even sounds.
  • A fun game at this age is peek-a-boo.
  • Your baby is starting to develop object/person permanence and will begin to search for a missing object/person.

Now that your baby knows you exist, they may grow anxious when you disappear. Separation anxiety is part of development and may cause clinginess, night waking, difficulty settling to sleep, and even crying when you’re not in sight.

  • Practicing safe separation during the day can help your baby learn people, and things do come back. For example, try placing your baby in their crib with some toys and then “pop out” to grab a laundry bin.
  • Coming right back teaches your baby that you will return, and they are still safe when you are gone.

Another thing you may notice around this age is your baby becoming more proficient with their hands and smaller toys. They are beginning to demonstrate the pincer grasp (i.e., using thumb and index finger together), transferring objects between their hands, banging toys together, throwing toys (especially off the high chair), and touching toys or an adult’s hand to restart an activity.

  • Cause-and-effect toys are wonderful at this age, and mirrors are still a big hit.
  • Anything that can be easily grasped, held, and thrown is ideal (egg shakers, rattles, smaller balls), and bubbles can be magical and mesmerizing.
  • Your baby will still only focus on any one activity for a minute or two before losing interest or getting distracted. This will gradually lengthen as they get older.
  • Everything will still go into their mouth at this age.
  • You will notice more babbling with consonant/vowel sounds (da, dee, ba, ma) and perhaps some “shouting” for attention.
Has your little one passed the nine-month stage? Check out the rest of our stages of play guide covering 10 to 12 months and up to four years old. Author: Kaili Ets is lovingly known as the Holistic Baby Guru. She has a passion for normalizing and bringing clarity around baby sleep, development, reflux, and more. Wife and mom of two, Kaili understands the importance of trusting your mama instincts. She is on a mission to help mamas tune into their intuition and feel like the confident super moms they are. Her wit and humor make her an approachable authority on all things baby-related, as she provides down-to-earth advice that makes everyone feel like they can do this parenting thing! You can find her at kailiets.com or on IG/FB @theholisticbabyguru
This article was originally published on Mar 29, 2023

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