Your baby is probably well and truly on the move now. Socially, she might still be reluctant to be left by you, or this may be a recent development, as separation anxiety can kick in any time between seven and nine months. On the plus side, she'll be happier with company (as long as you're there, too), although she may suddenly object to being handed to people she was previously happy to be cuddled by.
Here are some of the developments you may see in your baby:
• She may start to pull hersef up to standing soon, holding on to whatever is around, so be careful to make things as safe as possible. Don't leave anything around that could move away from her, such as a wheeled toy or pushchair. Stick cushioned pads on to any sharp corners of coffee tables, hearths or any other furnishings.
• Your baby is likely to be 'into everything', and will happily crawl into an overturned box or rummage in a discarded bag. Keep plastic carrier bags well out of her way and make sure you keep and eye on her. If you haven't done so already, fit fridge and cupboard locks, or fit a stairgate to the kitchen doorway. You can always allow her in in her playseat or highchair.
• She'll probably be teething in earnest now, and may be quite unhappy about it. Soothe her with chilled teething rings, sticks of chilled foods and teething gel or powder.
If she seems to be very uncomfortable, there's no harm in giving her the appropriate dose of infant paracetamol.
You'll need to care for her teeth as soon as they emerge, so use a tiny blob of toothpaste with a soft-bristled baby toothbrush morning and night.
This will help get her into the routine of daily ablutions, too. It's easiest to brush her teeth if you sit her facing away from you, but be prepared for her to keep trying to grab the toothbrush from you!
• Your baby will fall often when she's trying to stand freely, and if she seems really determined to walk, you can encourage her by kneeling in front of her and holding her hands as she takes her first few tentative steps. There's no need for shoes at this stage: let her go barefoot as she'll find it easier to find her balance this way and it'll strengthen her foot muscles and tendons, too.
• Your baby's hand-eye coordination is improving all the time and she may clap with delight or just because she can. You can encourage her with clapping rhymes and games. You could clap out the rhythms of her name and yours, then those of some of her friends.
Your baby's concept of language is far more developed than you might imagine, and he can understand much of what you're saying to him, although it'll be many more months before he can make head or tail of what you're saying to other people.
He's keen on observing adult conversation, though, and he'll be fascinated by the changing intonation of your voices, copying you in his own babble.
Listen out for meaningful patterns in his wordless conversation and you may hear a mini version of yourself in amongst the chat!
Your baby will have found his own voice pretty strongly by now and may take great pleasure in shouting loudly - typically at the most inappropriate moments when all is quiet around him!
He'll do this in pleasure, anger and frustration, but one thing's for sure: he'll have become adept at letting you know how he feels.
You may be surprised to hear recognisable snatches from favourite nursery rhymes being 'sung' to you by your baby, and he may join in with familiar choruses or phrases, such as 'All fall down!'. Continue to sing action rhymes to your baby and watch as he joins in with the appropriate action or even anticipates it.
Your baby may have his own names for things. For instance, you might notice he says something like 'gaga' each time he sees the family pet, or he might pronounce a certain sound when he wants some milk. This will change eventually when he can copy and enunciate in a more sophisticated way, but for now it's a clear demonstration that he realises everything has a name.
Pointing and following your gaze is another leap forward in non-verbal communication, and shows your baby's growing in intelligence. He's likely to point at things if he wants them, as well as in amazement or delight, and he'll look towards anything you've fixed on as well, to see what all the fuss is about.
He may pick up on your gestures and mimic them himself - and he'll also start to wave back when someone waves to him - although it might be a bit of a delayed response, and he might only start waving once they've already left!
HOW TO ENTERTAIN YOUR NINE-MONTH-OLD
With her newly acquired skills of dexterity, your baby is open to more play opportunities than ever before. Here are some ideas for entertaining her:
• Roll a ball to her: she'll soon be able to catch it. Encourage her to roll it back. She probably won't have the strength to send it far, but make a fuss of her for trying.
• Get some board books and point to words and pictures as you read. She'll start to get the idea that pages read from left to right and words are sometimes labels for the pictures above them.
• A set of play telephones will come into its own even more now as your baby is growing adept at the concept of conversation.
Let her babble into her handset before you respond into yours (if you only have one baby phone, talk into your mobile or home phone). Leave gaps so she can have her turn. See if you can make her laugh by making silly noises or calling her name in silly voices.
• Bath toys will prove great fun now your baby can sit unsupported: give her a selection of things to use for pouring; get a baby bath book that she can explore while she's in the water; a set of ducks that she can squeeze full of water then empty again (with your help) will all amuse her.
• Make up a box of 'feely' things: ribbons, pieces of different-textured fabrics; a pine cone; a rubber ball; some dried pasta shapes; buttons (not small enough to end up in her nose, though!); rubber bands and a feather are just a few ideas. She'll love exploring the different shapes, textures and sensations.
• Give her some paper tissue to rip up - she'll love the sound and sensation, plus the fact she's doing it all by herself!
• A pull-along lightweight toy will encourage her hand-eye coordination as well as her fine motor skills, as she'll have to grip and pull on a thin cord. It'll also encourage her to reach further and move the toy around with her as she crawls or bottom-shuffles. Later on it'll give her even more play value when she's up and walking.
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