The Ninth Month: Fears and Insecurities

by Don Bower

It may seem that baby's development has slowed down some in the ninth month, but many developments are taking place.

Baby's Development

Expect More of the Following Physical Developments This Month:

  • Can turn around
  • Can crawl, while holding something in one hand
  • May be able to get down from standing position
  • May give up his morning nap

Baby's language continues to develop. He will listen intently to others. conversations. He tries to imitate sounds, such as clucking, coughing and hissing.

Other Mental Skills Include:

  • May build a two-block tower
  • Gets bored with repeated stimuli
  • Anticipates rewards (memory is developing)
  • You may notice your child role-playing soon. He is just beginning to be able to think by using symbols instead of real things. Watch him during play and see if he copes with a frightening or frustrating experience by pretending with a doll or stuffed animal. Dramatic play is a good way for children to overcome fears and anger, so encourage role playing.

    Another mental skill baby is learning is persistence. Have you noticed that he sticks with a specific activity longer now? This is a very important skill that he will use throughout his lifetime.

    Your baby is developing socially, also. He may now initiate play by offering you a toy to play with.

    Parenting Tips

    Baby's Temperament

    This seems to be the month of fears and insecurities. When baby can stand by himself, he enters a new dimension of life and becomes aware of many new things. This is sometimes frightening to him (and to you, too!). Many 9-month-olds become frightened of heights and will no longer climb from chairs as they have before. Many become frightened by noises and things such as the vacuum cleaner.

    Parents need to be concerned, but shouldn't overreact and become too protective. Providing quick sympathy and then encouragement usually works well. For example, if the fear is directed at the vacuum cleaner, dry the tears with a kiss, and then encourage the child to investigate the unplugged vacuum cleaner. It also may help to explain what to expect before noisy equipment is turned on (to reduce the startle).

    It is not uncommon at this age for your baby to show a clear preference for his primary caregiver (usually his mother). Being "Mommy's little boy (or little girl)" is an important phase of development, although one parent may feel left out sometimes. Continue to show affection for your partner when your baby is around. Typically, in a year or two the child's parent preferences will switch to the other parent, and eventually even out in the long run. Knowing this may help soothe hurt feelings of whichever parent isn't the current "favorite."

    Baby's Bath

    Many babies become frightened of their baths around the ninth month. To comfort him, try returning to bathing him in his old bathinette or bathing him with you (holding him) in the tub. An adult bathtub looks very large to a small child. He will gradually lose his fear and be satisfied to bathe alone (with your close supervision, of course).

    Older Children

    It is not unusual for new jealousy to develop in older brothers and sisters since baby is now mobile. A strong rivalry between baby and a toddler is not unusual. Your older child may feel threatened now and may express his anger and frustrations in a variety of ways -- including some that could hurt the baby.

    It is often hard for parents to deal with an ugly outburst from their older child, particularly if it includes unkind behavior directed toward the baby. However, intervention each time there is a fight is not the best answer. The older child needs to get out his tensions, and if scolded too often may begin to bottle up his feelings until he explodes.

    Both baby and older child can learn from their squabbles. As long as no harm is directed toward the baby, the experience of arguing can teach how to read others' moods and how to cooperate, and can clear the air so more positive feelings can develop. You can model the behavior you expect.