Milestones help parents know what to expect around a certain age and, if needed, know when to request a referral from their pediatrician. Here are a few cognitive, speech, and language (developmental) milestones to look for that will help you and baby on your baby-led weaning journey!
SPEECH + LANGUAGE MILESTONES
As a speech-language pathologist, I know that every baby speaks and understands at their own pace. But around 9 months, parents should look forward to their baby’s first word as well as other exciting communication skills. So here are some ideas to foster speech and language milestones:
Baby Makes Many Different Sounds
If you are using the Tiny Cup and Tiny Spoon during feeding, you are improving your baby’s lip closure ability, which will help with swallowing, drinking, eating, and communicating too! Consistent feeding movements (with appropriately-sized feeding tools) provide the basis of good lip closure for early speech sounds such as the “m,” “p,” and “b.” Look for your baby’s speech to consist of words like “ma-ma-ma,” “pa-pa-pa,” and “ba-ba-ba.”
Baby Understands “No”
At 9 months of age, your baby starts to understand the language you use. Adults often use the word “no” when supervising a baby, especially when trying to keep baby safe, so, logically, this has become a receptive language milestone to look for! I encourage parents to check to make sure baby understands the word “no” at this age. However, I recommend avoiding its use during mealtime as it can cause food refusal. Instead, use positive language during mealtime to entice babies to try new tastes.
Baby Will Copy Sounds and Gestures
If you say “mmm” when you are eating a yummy bite of steamed broccoli, then baby will be curious and want to imitate you by trying a bite and saying “mmm” too. Score! Remember, baby will want to copy all your gestures at this age. So, if you make a face when you eat something that’s not your favorite, your baby might make that face too (and may not be willing to try it)! Teaching your baby to be adventurous with eating doesn’t mean you have to eat a huge amount of non-preferred foods. You just need to show baby how to take ONE bite! You GOT this!
Cognitive development refers to the way a baby learns, including thinking, imagining, problem-solving, and organizing information. Your 9-month-old baby will likely love to learn through play! Here are some tips to encourage these cognitive milestones.
Baby will Watch Objects Fall
Babies love to throw their plates/bowls and watch them fall to the floor, so the Tiny Bowl and Mini Mat were invented to save parents’ sanity during this phase! Ideally, mealtime is not the time to have babies practice this cognitive skill, but you can assess this skill outside of the feeding environment. For example, use a favorite toy or stuffed animal to help baby learn to watch the path as play objects fall instead of mealtime objects.
Baby will Move Things from One Hand to the Other
During this age, baby is eating with their hands and transferring food smoothly from one hand to the other. Baby will also be using a spoon at mealtime. The Tiny Spoon has a short, fat, round handle that helps baby practice this cognitive milestone.
Baby Will Put Objects in Their Mouth
Babies put everything in their mouths at this age. Yes, everything! This makes us excited when starting their first foods, but choking hazards (both food-related and household objects like buttons & coins) are a parent’s nightmare. So be prepared for this stage in baby’s cognition by taking a CHOKING COURSE and being present at every mealtime. (Click through or use the code “Dawn10” for $10 off the course!)
I hope these milestones encourage you to have fun exploring the world through your baby’s eyes! But, remember, these 9-month-old skills are a general guide. If you have any concerns or questions about your baby’s feeding, speech, language, or swallowing development, you can reach out to me for a one-on-one parent coaching session. #MsDawnSLP