Your Child's Checkup: 9 Months
What to Expect During This Visit
Your doctor and/or nurse will probably:
1. Check your baby's weight, length, and head circumference and plot the measurements on the growth charts.
2. Administer a screening (test) that helps with the early identification of developmental delays.
3. Ask questions, address concerns, and offer advice about how your baby is:
Eating. Your baby should be eating a variety of baby foods, in addition to regular feedings of breast milk or formula. Your baby can probably drink from a cup and may try to self-feed with his or her fingers.
Peeing and pooping. You may notice a change in the color and consistency your baby's poopy diapers as you introduce new foods. Tell your doctor if your baby has diarrhea or has stools that are hard, dry, or difficult to pass.
Sleeping. The average amount of daily sleep now is about 12 hours. Your baby is probably still taking two naps a day — one in the morning and another sometime after lunch — but every baby is different. Waking at night is common at this age.
Developing (milestones). By 9 months, it's common for many babies to:
- say "mama" and "dada" (not specific to parents)
- understand "no"
- sit without support
- pull to stand
- walk along furniture ("cruising")
- start to use thumb and forefinger to grasp objects (pincer grasp)
- wave bye-bye
- enjoy playing peek-a-boo
There's a wide range of normal, and children develop at different rates. Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about your child's development.
4. Perform a physical exam with your baby undressed while you are present. This will include an eye exam, listening to your baby's heart and feeling pulses, checking hips, and paying attention to your baby's movements.
5. Update immunizations. Immunizations can protect babies from serious childhood illnesses, so it's important that your child receive them on time. Immunization schedules can vary from office to office, so talk to your doctor about what to expect
Here are some things to keep in mind until your next routine visit at 12 months:
- If you are breastfeeding, continue for 12 months or for as long as is mutually beneficial. Breastfed babies weaned before 12 months should be given iron-fortified formula. Wait until 12 months to switch from formula to cow's milk.
- If you give juice, limit it to 4 ounces (120 ml) a day. Always give juice in a cup.
- Introduce combinations of foods previously given as single foods.
- If there's a history of food allergies in your family, talk to your doctor before introducing new foods.
- Pay attention to signs your baby is hungry or full.
- Pull the highchair up to the table during meals. Your baby will start to show interest in table foods. Give your baby a variety of tastes and textures, including foods that are pureed, mashed, and in soft lumps.
- Give your child soft finger foods. Avoid choking hazards, including:
- raw vegetables, hard fruits, chunks of meat, or hard cheese
- whole grapes or cherry tomatoes (OK to peel and cut in quarters)
- raisins, popcorn, pretzels, or nuts
- hot dogs or kiddie sausages (OK to peel and cut in very small pieces)
Routine Care & Safety
- If your baby wakes up at night and doesn't settle back down, offer reassurance that you're there, but try not to pick up, play with, or feed your baby.
- Separation anxiety often starts around 9 months. Keep good-byes short but loving. Your baby may be upset at first, but will calm down soon after you're gone.
- Continue to keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat until age 2, or whenever your child reaches the weight or height limit set by the car-seat manufacturer.
- Avoid sun exposure by keeping your baby covered and in the shade when possible. You may use sunscreen (SPF 30) if shade and clothing don't offer enough protection.
- Brush your child's teeth without toothpaste twice a day. Schedule a dentist visit soon after the first tooth appears or by 1 year of age.
- Be vigilant about childproofing:
- Install safety gates and tie up drapes, blinds, and cords.
- Keep locked up/out of reach: choking hazards; medicines; toxic substances; items that are hot, sharp, or breakable.
- Keep emergency numbers, including poison control, near the phone.
- To prevent drowning, close bathroom doors, keep toilet seats down, and always supervise around water (including baths).
- TV viewing (or other screen time, including computers) can interfere with the brain development of young children. Therefore, TV is not recommended for those under 2 years old.
- Limit your child's exposure to secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of heart and lung disease.
- Protect your child from gun injuries by not keeping a gun in the home. If you do have a gun, keep it unloaded and locked away. Ammunition should be locked up separately. Make sure kids cannot access the keys.
These checkup sheets are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures guidelines.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013
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