Your infant is curious, mobile, active, and capable, but definitely not concerned with safety or being neat. Babies at this age are explorers. They don’t realize they are making a mess. You need to be understanding and keep a sharp eye out for dangerous situations. Your baby is just doing what comes naturally—exploring his world.
What's it Like to Be a Nine-Month-Old?
- I respond when I hear my name.
- I can stand for a short time while holding on for support.
- I imitate sounds. I can say "ma ma" or "da da."
- I am very sensitive. If I see another baby crying, I may cry too.
- I poke my fingers into places that look interesting.
Feeding Your Nine-Month-Old
By now, your baby has developed a long way toward independent feeding. Ideally, his meals are with the rest of the family, and he is assisting with his feeding. At the age of nine months, your baby is developing a more precise grip and can pick up items with his thumb and forefinger now.
Think of the many finger foods you might offer - all should be cut into small pieces.
- Soft, mild cheese (keep small to prevent choking)
- Cooked vegetable strips--potato, carrot, peas, green or waxed beans, zucchini
- Tortilla (not tortilla chips)
- Soft and tender pieces of cooked meat or chicken
- Peeled soft fruit wedges or slices
Offer a variety of foods. Your baby is an individual and may have likes and dislikes you do not have. Be sure to offer her a wide variety of foods--occasionally even ones you may not like. She is at the age to form opinions about food, but right now, when food is an adventure, she is especially open to discovery!
This month you should continue to advance the texture and variety of your baby's diet. Remember, one goal of feeding your baby is to continuously evaluate her abilities and readiness and to move toward the ultimate goal-- table food! Some babies are ready sooner than others, and some babies have more of a spirit of adventure and discovery and may be more open to the change to solid/table foods. The most successful parents are those who follow Baby's lead.
Babies vary in how they view bottle or breastfeeding at this point. Some babies really want and need the closeness of the bottle/breast feedings, and it is comforting to them to continue. Others are so curious and independent they seem almost insulted by the calming routine. Your baby may be somewhere in between. Just follow your baby's lead, and adjust the amounts of solid/table foods and liquids you offer at meals and snacks. By now, if your baby is eating table foods, you will want to offer the breast milk or formula feeding after the meal. This will encourage the baby's move toward a more solid/table food diet.
Speaking of snacks, your baby will probably do well with in-between meal feedings, because he still doesn't have the stomach capacity to go straight from one meal to the next without "refueling." This way, your baby can manage to eat with the family without becoming too hungry between meals.
All children grow, learn, and develop at different rates. The information in this brochure is considered typical for children of this age. If you do all you can to help children grow and develop now, they will have the best chance to do well in school and in life.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012. Nutrition for Infants and Toddlers. Getting Started on Eating Right.
- Aronson, Susan. 2012. Healthy Young Children: A Manual for Programs. National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2002. Healthy Start, Grow Smart.
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Family and Consumer Sciences. 2009. Parent Express: A Guide for You and Your Baby.
Originally prepared by Katherine Cason, associate professor of food science.
Updated in 2014 by Jill Cox, MS, RD, program development specialist, Penn State Better Kid Care and Mary Alice Gettings, MS, RD, nutrition consultant with funding from the Penn State Extension Better Kid Care program.