Month 9: Imitating & Emoting

by Penny Warner

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Thumb/Finger Grasp – Watch your baby’s hands carefully and you may notice that he’s beginning to use his thumb and fingers to grasp an object. This milestone skill helps baby’s eye-hand coordination, his fine-motor ability, and his coordination.
  • Toileting – Your baby’s awareness of his bladder and bowel may be evident around this time, as he pulls on his diaper or fusses when he has a full diaper. But he’s not ready – physically, cognitively, or psychologically – to be toilet trained, and won’t be until he’s at least two to two and a half years old.
  • Lower to Sit – While your baby is in a standing position, have him hold onto your thumbs or a piece of furniture. He may try to lower himself to a sitting position. This is usually deliberate and not necessarily a fall, although it may look a little uncoordinated.

How You Can Help

  • Thumb/Finger Grasp – Sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and hold up your baby’s fingers to match each verse, so he becomes aware of the names and individuality of each digit.
  • Toileting – Make diaper-changing time a fun time by spending a few extra moments singing, chanting, or playing while he’s on the table. Give him some free time to be naked, but be prepared for the occasional accident. 
  • Lower to Sit – As your baby practices his standing, he may bend his legs in an effort to sit. Help lower him to a sitting position by moving your hands down so he doesn’t fall too far to the floor. His padded diaper should keep him from hurting himself. With practice and greater leg strength, he'll soon drop to the floor in a smooth and efficient motion.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Visual/Tactile Exploration – Your baby will begin moving from the oral stage of exploring his environment to the visual/tactile mode, using his eyes to see the details of an object, and his hands and fingers to feel them. This is part of the sensory motor stage of development and will increase over the next few months.
  • Tools – As your baby interacts with his environment, he will soon be able to use one object to help him reach or play with another object. This ability to use cause and effect, to problem solve, and to manipulate a tool to reach a goal is a major milestone that leads to more complicated cognitive skills. 
  • Word/Sounds – Although it’s early, your baby may try to shape his sounds into nearly recognizable words, such as “dah” for “daddy” or “uh” for up. He may use these word/sounds appropriately one moment, and randomly the next. He’s thinking generically rather than specifically and may use one word for many purposes. On average, the first word usually appears at twelve months.
  • Visual/Tactile Exploration – Allow your baby to explore new objects but watch him carefully so he doesn’t choke or try to swallow something. Let him manipulate the objects, and note how he coordinates his eyes and hands more. Offer your baby large piece puzzles and simple manipulatives like stacking, nesting, and sorting toys – they’re especially good for baby to explore.
  • Tools – Give your baby the opportunity to use an object to manipulate another by setting up some simple tasks. Tie a ribbon to a toy, set the toy out of reach, but allow your baby to reach the ribbon. See if he uses it to get the toy. Bury a toy in the sand, and give your baby a toy rake or scoop to uncover it. Do the same thing in the bath with a scoop or bowl.
  • Word/Sounds – To encourage your baby to include word sounds in his vocalizations, speak clearly as you repeat the words he uses when he’s referring to something specific. Don’t correct his pronunciation or point out his mistakes. He’ll fine-tune his word-sounds after he hears them repeated over time.

How You Can Help

  • Visual/Tactile Exploration – Allow your baby to explore new objects but watch him carefully so he doesn’t choke or try to swallow something. Let him manipulate the objects, and note how he coordinates his eyes and hands more. Offer your baby large piece puzzles and simple manipulatives like stacking, nesting, and sorting toys – they’re especially good for baby to explore. 
  • Tools – Give your baby the opportunity to use an object to manipulate another by setting up some simple tasks. Tie a ribbon to a toy, set the toy out of reach, but allow your baby to reach the ribbon. See if he uses it to get the toy. Bury a toy in the sand, and give your baby a toy rake or scoop to uncover it. Do the same thing in the bath with a scoop or bowl.
  • Word/Sounds – To encourage your baby to include word sounds in his vocalizations, speak clearly as you repeat the words he uses when he’s referring to something specific. Don’t correct his pronunciation or point out his mistakes. He’ll fine-tune his word-sounds after he hears them repeated over time.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Relationships with Others – The more your baby trusts his caregiver, the more he’ll trust other people in his environment. This is key to success in most areas of your baby’s future, so be sure he’s around nurturing people who care for him and provide him with a secure foundation.
  • Imitation – Babies are visually aware at this age and love to imitate the actions and sounds of other people. You may notice this when you are doing things around the house, and catch your baby copying your movements or noises.
  • Negative Emotions – If your baby shows negative emotions, such as fear, frustration, or anger, he’s responding to situations that elicit these emotions, a normal and healthy developmental response. As he demonstrates his growing range of feelings, he’ll soon learn new ways of expressing himself through imitation.

How You Can Help

  • Relationships with Others – When introducing your child to someone new, let him watch the newcomer for awhile so he gets used to the person. Then have the newcomer gently invite him to share an activity or carry him.
  • Imitation – When you play with your baby, act out some basic skills, such as pouring, stacking, banging, clapping. Then try some more complicated movements, such as squeezing dough, folding paper, ringing a bell, and so on.
  • Negative Emotions – Allow your baby to release his feelings. Don’t try to ignore them or laugh at them. But you can also teach him other ways to show his emotions, by imitating the appropriate responses, redirecting his attention, and soothing him when he’s truly upset. Think how you would feel in his situation, and respond the way you’d like to be treated.