Healthy living

Child development 6–9 months

You and your baby are starting to feel (and act) like separate people. Your baby is starting to sit up, move by rolling, reach out, and act on the world. They worry that you might not come back when you go away and will let you know it. Your baby will respond to you giving them lots of things to look at, touch, play with and safely put in their mouth.

Time playing on their tummy on the floor will strengthen baby's back and help them learn to crawl.

Social and emotional

There are some big emotional and physical developments in your baby that you will notice between 6 and 9 months. Your baby is becoming able to move around and take a much more active part in family life.

  • Your baby begins to realise they are a separate person surrounded by their own skin (and finishing at their hands and feet). Your baby no longer experiences floating in a sea of feelings and needs, where the outside and the inside are all mixed together. Instead baby begins to feel they have an outside and an inside and to know where the boundary of the outside is. Your baby will start to understand that you are separate from them, and it will worry them when they can’t see you or feel you nearby.
  • Your baby begins to recognise and identify their own feelings and that they are different. For instance, they may know the difference between feeling hungry and feeling lonely and may be able to give you some clue as to whether they want food or a cuddle. Your baby knows this because you have helped them to recognise different feelings by responding to hunger with food and loneliness with cuddles, etc.
  • Your baby will begin to have desires of their own, simple things they know they want, like wanting to hold an object or wanting to be picked up immediately. Your baby's desires may not always be the same as yours and, for the first time, you may feel yourself clash with your baby's tiny will.
  • Your baby will, during these months, come to recognise the important, familiar people in their world and will become sensitive to strangers. By 9 months your baby will be shy with strangers, and for a while might not even want to be too close to people they know, such as grandparents, but this will change. With familiar people, it is a very sociable age and your baby will love playing and chatting.
Physical development

Your baby will put everything in their mouth. Your baby's lips and tongue are the most sensitive part of their body and will give them lots of information about texture, shape and taste. Also, you can swallow some bits of the world (such as food) but not others, and they are just learning this.

Safety is very important.

  • Your baby will start to take some mashed solids around this time, and later some soft finger food, such as toast (under your supervision).
  • At first it is hard for baby to work out the eating action because they are used to sucking, so keeping the food inside the mouth can be hard.
  • Just because the mashed pumpkin gets spat out does not necessarily mean they don’t like it, they just may not yet have got the hang of keeping it inside their mouth and coordinating when to swallow. Different textures feel very strange to them at first.


At some time during these 4 months your baby will be able to:

  • roll over, front to back and back to front
  • sit alone for a few moments when you put them into a sitting position, then manage to sit by themself without falling over
  • do push ups when on their tummy – lift their head and chest off the floor and support themself on outstretched arms
  • start to move while on their tummy, first ‘commando’ style, pulling themself along on their arms, then crawl on all fours
  • reach for a rattle and shake it
  • swap a toy from one hand to the other
  • find their feet, play with them and put them in their mouth.
Hearing and seeing

Your baby will turn towards familiar sounds and voices and want to make sounds themselves, not only ‘talking’ but by banging objects together.

Your baby’s eye muscles will be working well and they will be able to focus on small objects. You baby also develops a perception of depth and therefore can be afraid of heights and falling. By 9 months your baby can not only see a change in floor level, but understand that it is scary. Despite this, some babies may let the desire to move overcome this feeling and try, for example, to roll off the change table.

Speech and language

While your baby has been cooing and babbling for many weeks, their sounds will now become more like real words.

  • Your baby enjoys making sounds and knows that they have made them.
  • Your baby will try different sounds, like clicks, lip bubbles and raspberries, as well as word-like sounds, and copy sounds you make.
  • Your baby will use lots of different sounds to express different emotions, such as frustrated grunts, squeals and giggles.
  • Your baby will listen to you carefully when you speak to them, and will talk back to you using babbling sounds.
  • Your baby will probably be putting a vowel and a consonant together, as in ‘muum’ or ‘bubbub’.
  • Your baby might say ‘ma-ma-ma’ because they can, but they don't know that this sound is a word that can be used for their mother. These sounds will be repeated as baby works out how to make the noises.

Your baby loves to touch and grasp and to ‘make things happen’, that is make things shake and bang or move towards them. These activities are great fun and also help them to understand that they have an effect on the world, they can do things to it.

Your baby is learning about up and down as well as coming and going, and will love to play games that act these things out.

Your baby will love to

  • have you look into their eyes and chat
  • lie on their back and grab their feet
  • lie on their tummy and reach for a brightly coloured toy or piece of paper
  • have you play ‘here is your nose – here is mummy’s nose’
  • drop a toy from the highchair or pram over and over and delight in watching you pick it up and give it back to them
  • play ‘ahh boo’ as you bring your face quickly down to their tummy
  • play ‘peek-a-boo’ as you hide your face behind a book or cloth and say their name when you come out.

Babies need most of all to be with and to have fun with people, especially their parents and others who are close to them, such as their brothers, sisters and grandparents. People are much more interesting than things.


A moving baby who puts everything in their mouth needs to be watched all the time because they can quickly swallow small objects or creep into unsafe places. Babies are not able to understand about danger. Lock away unsafe objects or put them high out of reach.

What to watch out for

You should check with your doctor or child health nurse if, by 9 months, your child is not:

  • sitting up without help
  • smiling and laughing out loud
  • grasping, holding and shaking things
  • reaching out for objects and putting them into their mouth
  • turning towards you when you call their name
  • beginning to try some ‘solid’ foods
  • making lots of different sounds.
Your baby is unique

Children are different and may develop at different rates.If your child does not do all the things in this topic, it may be because your child is working on some different area of their learning and development at present.

Children usually follow the same pattern of development and it is good to have reassurance that your child is developing normally in their own unique way.

If your child is very different from other children, you are worried about your child's development, or if your child’s development seems to go backwards, you should talk with a health professional about your concerns. If there is a problem, getting help and ideas early will help. Remember that what matters is to support your child in moving forward from where they are now.

More information

Local community, school or child health nurse

  • See inside your baby's purple All About Me book
  • Look in the service finder for child health centres
  • Visit your nearest child health centre

Local family doctor

Ngala Parenting Line 

  • 8.00am – 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Phone: (08) 9368 9368
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

Raising Children Network

© Women’s and Children’s Health Network, reproduced with permission. The South Australian Government does not accept responsibility for the accuracy of this reproduction.


Child and Adolescent Health Service – Community Health (CAHS CH)

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.