Along with motor-skill accomplishments, your baby is continuing
to develop an understanding of the world through the sights,
sounds, tastes, smells, and textures in the environment.
Take the necessary precautions to ensure safety, but also
provide your baby with countless ways to explore the world through
Your baby's sight has been maturing for several months, and
he or she is able to see quite well and even focus on quickly
moving objects. Your baby is now putting motor skills together with
vision, and it's likely that he or she can spot a toy across
the room, focus on it, crawl to it, pick it up, and turn it
Familiar and loving faces are still your baby's favorite
thing to look at, but he or she also may enjoy looking at the same
picture book over and over again, concentrating on certain images.
Your baby may love objects with parts or pieces he or she can move
or connect, and will spend lots of time staring at these things,
perhaps trying to figure out how or why they work.
Take your baby with you to see new and interesting places. Point
out the sights and label them by name. You'll be promoting your
baby's interest in the surrounding world.
During this period, your baby will be making more and more
recognizable sounds, such as "ga," "ba," and
"da." By 9 months your baby is putting these sounds
together to make "sentences" and may even stumble onto a
real word like "Mama." He or she will listen when spoken
to and start to recognize common words, such as ball, cup,
These sounds will let you know that your baby's been
listening to you for quite some time. You'll also know
you're being heard and understood when you ask
"Where's Daddy?" and your baby looks his way; or you
say "Go find the ball" and he or she crawls right to it.
Your baby should already respond well to his or her own name, and
look up (and at least pause) when you say, "NO!"
Labeling simple objects during the course of the day reinforces
the message that everything has its own name. Your baby is learning
what familiar objects are called and storing this information away
until the time when he or she can form the words.
By the end of the first year, your baby should:
- be responding well to simple requests from you ("Wave
- have at least one true word in his or her vocabulary
- be making some valiant babbling attempts at real
Taste and Smell
By this age, your baby may have a pretty good idea of which
tastes he or she likes and which ones he or she doesn't.
Don't be discouraged if your baby seems to prefer only one or
two kinds of foods. By continually offering foods with a variety of
tastes and smells, you'll be sending the message that they are
always available - and you'll be surprised when your child
decides to try something new.
Your baby's sense of smell is maturing, too. Use scents to
help your baby explore the world further. A trip outside can
provide a wide variety, from the sweet scent of flowers to the
distinctive smell of a rubber ball.
Label smells and tastes for your baby ("Doesn't this
smell sour?" and "Oh, this tastes so salty!") and
you'll be providing the tools to name them as soon as your baby
can form the words.
Your baby is getting around more independently as he or she
masters crawling - perhaps even walking - skills. This means your
baby can go and touch the things he or she wants to touch. After
making sure there are no hot or sharp items that can hurt your baby
and no small objects that can be put in the mouth, let your baby
explore the textures and surfaces of your home and yard.
Let your baby find out how that banana gets mushy on the
highchair tray, and that ice cubes feel hard and cold. Find some
sandpaper and let your baby rub a hand gently over its coarse
surface, then move that hand to the smooth coolness of a
stainless-steel sink. Of course, your loving touch is still the
most important touch your baby knows, so lavish your baby with hugs
and kisses every chance you get.
Should I Be Concerned?
Hopefully, you've addressed any concerns you've had
about your baby's eyesight already, but be sure to contact your
child's doctor if you see any of the following irregularities
develop during this time period:
- eyes that wander in or out consistently
- inability to see or recognize distant objects or people
- persistent tearing, fluid discharge, crusting, or redness of
- eyes that don't move together
- frequent squinting or sensitivity to light
- droopy eyelids
- pupils of different sizes
- excessive eye rubbing or scratching
Hearing problems may become more apparent during this stage
because of the emergence of speech. Don't hesitate to report
any concerns to your doctor, especially if you feel your child is
not babbling or responding to your speech patterns. Chronic ear
infections can sometimes leave children with excessive fluid
buildup that can interfere with normal hearing. Special tests can
check for hearing loss at this age (and even younger).
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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