You may still consider them babies, but by 9 months, children have a distinct personality displaying a wide-range of emotions and budding independence. You’re discovering your infant as an individual for the first time.
Infant Physical Development
Children this age are on the move developing mobility — sitting, crawling, cruising, or maybe even walking, all at their own pace. No part of the house is safe from your little explorer. They will get into everything, so now is the time to check your house for safety.
Staying still can be frustrating for them. Strollers can be difficult to use, as your child no longer tolerates being confined. Give them opportunities to use their new mobility skills, holding their hands for slow walks, rather than carrying or strollering them when possible.
Their little hands are increasingly active, as they skillfully manipulate a variety of objects. Pinching and releasing things between the thumb and forefinger becomes a great game. Encourage this fine motor development with small finger foods, or stacking blocks.
Yet, as they gain the ability to move away from you, they can start feeling “separation anxiety”. This is normal, but they need reassurance of your presence. Let them know you are nearby, and always say ‘good-bye’ before leaving them with a caregiver – sneaking off may only increase their anxiety.
When do Babies Crawl?
Parents are often eager for babies to start crawling and to gain mobility. However normal infant development occurs over a range of ages. Some active babies may begin crawling early at 7-8 months, and a few babies will never crawl. Both are within the normal range of development.
For babies who do not crawl, they develop alternative methods for moving around, such as scooting on their bottoms or pulling on their stomachs. As long as your baby is learning to coordinate each side of his body and is using each arm and leg equally, there’s no cause for concern.
Infant Social-Emotional Development
You might be surprised by your child’s budding personality or new behaviors. Parents may wonder where their sweet baby went as their child becomes more demanding of time and energy. Your infant loves an audience and knows how to get your attention.
One year old is the height of sociability.
Patterns and schedules will change, so be flexible. Children this age may exhibit decreased appetite and less interest in eating.
They are becoming aware of basic cause–and-effect relationships, and developing an awareness of the space around them and how to manipulate their environment. As memory develops, children may become persistent, and less easily distracted. Now is a great time to introduce new toys and experiences.
Children develop emotional attachment between birth and 18 months. Their part of the brain that regulates emotions (the amygdala) learns very early how to be a “good citizen” – one who cares and reacts to human needs. Emotions such as empathy, happiness, hopefulness, and sadness are shaped by how your child is nurtured.
While the amygdala continues to develop throughout childhood, these early experiences (as well as your child’s natural temperament) are critical for the brain’s long-term emotional wiring. Cherish and nurture this period of attachment with your child.
Infant Intellectual Development
Receptive language (the ability to understand speech) is quickly developing, and children are able to follow your basic directions. Language, both active and responsive, is ready to bud, but not quite ready blossom.
At 12-months, many children have between 3 and 8 “words” they can “say” and about 20 they can understand. In terms of discipline, your one-year-old may be inhibited by a calm, yet firm “No.” They may even show a slight sense of humor, laughing at surprises and displaying silliness.