May 17, 2023

9 to 12 Months: What to Expect

Jane Magnani
Jane Magnani
9 to 12 Months: What to Expect

Your baby is developing quickly and becoming more confident in their world. There is so much to expect during this age!

Crawling might start at this age, and your baby will want to explore everything, developing their growing independence, among other things.


  • By now, your baby will be eating three small meals a day.

  • There is no need to mash or purée everything for your little one. Instead, you can offer your baby easy-to-pick-up finger foods. 

  • Introduce a range of foods into your baby's diet; if they reject them, don't worry; you can always try again next time. It can take 10 to 20 different times before your baby learns to like a new food.

  • Although your baby might be drinking less milk at this stage, they will still need to drink breast milk or formula milk until they are one year old.


  • Your little one might sleep for up to 12 hours at this age. And they might have one or two short daytime naps too. 

Personal, Social, and Emotional development

Making relationships

  • Your baby can clearly distinguish between familiar people and show preferences for them.

Sense of Self

  • Explores toys with hands, fingers, and mouth.

  • Your baby enjoys playing interactive games and copies others' gestures and actions, such as clapping, patting, etc.

  • Shows awareness of being a separate individual through initiating contact with others using voice, gesture, eye contact, and facial expressions.

  • Expresses awareness of their physical self through their movements, gestures and expressions and by touching their own and others' faces, eyes, and mouth in play and care events.

Understanding Emotions

  •  Show signs of willingness to wait for attention.

  • Your baby is beginning to be able to self-soothe when upset.

  • Wary of unfamiliar people or people they have not seen for a while.

  • Reacts emotionally to other people's emotions; smiling when smiled at and becoming distressed if they hear another child crying or see a blank unresponsive face.

Physical Development

Moving and Handling

  • Belly crawling moves into crawling up on hands and knees - these are ways that a newborn explores the environment while developing their brain and body at the same time, also known as sensorimotor development.

  • Your baby uses a pincer grasp with the thumb and index finger to pick up small objects.

  • Begins to understand object permanence as they look for fallen things.

  • Grasps objects with one hand, explores them with their eyes, and transfers them to the other hand.

  • When supported by an adult, your baby steps forward on alternate feet.

  • Pulls to stand and cruises along with furniture or using adults for support.

  • Beginning to stand on their own.

  • Might start taking some independent steps.

  • Changes position to explore their environment and explore objects.

  • Maintains balance in sitting when throwing objects - aids sensorimotor development which means they begin to understand the realisation that objects exist and events take place in the world regardless of one's own actions.

  • Clap hands.

  • Enjoys grabbing and releasing things into boxes and containers

Health and Self-care

  • Grabs and feeds themselves finger foods.

  • Your baby is beginning to try and eat an increasing variety of food.

  • Uses a close-up to drink water independently.

  • Your baby might be ready to start self-feeding using utensils.

  • Enjoys a greater variety of smells and tastes.

  • Is usually able to calm-self to fall asleep.

Mother feeding baby food spoon

Mother feeding baby food spoon

Communication and Language Development

Listening and attention

  • Enjoys listening to music, song, and rhymes and will attempt to join in with the actions.

  • Listens to and recognises their name.

  • Pays attention to where you are looking and pointing.

  • Your baby enjoys looking at pictures and listening to stories read by familiar adults.


  • Some babies say their first words at this age. It's usually something easy to say, like 'dada', 'mama' or 'no'.

  • Points and looks to make requests and share an interest.

  • Produces long strings of gibberish (jargoning) in social communication.

  • Imitates sounds and simple words.

  • Your baby is beginning to use a string of different sounds such as "ba ma ba ma."


  • Responds to simple instructions, e.g. "Come here."

  • May understand simple words such as "no" and "bye-bye."

  • Babbling has sounds and rhythms of speech.

  • Pays attention to where you are looking and pointing.

  • Responds to "no."

  • Begins using hand movements to communicate wants and needs, e.g. reaches to be picked up.

  • Your baby is developing the ability to follow others' body language, including pointing and gesture.

  • Pointing begins, demonstrating increasing awareness that words are associated with objects and people.

What to look out for:

Remember that each child is unique, and they all develop at various times and at different rates. So, if your baby isn't doing the same things as your friend's kid, give your little one time! Your little one may be finding the following skills challenging:

  • Isn’t crawling. 

  • Won't search for hidden objects.

  • Is unable to stand without support.

  • Doesn’t point.

  • Doesn’t say simple words.

  • Loses skills she once had.

If you are concerned about your little one, seek help from your GP or health visitor. No matter how small your concern is don’t let it linger in your mind, ask for help.


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