tykeTALK: 9 months

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones at 9 months:

  • Babies use sounds or gestures to let you know what they want (eg. Reaches out to be picked up).
  • Babies make babbling sounds like “mamama” or “dadada”.  These won’t yet mean Mom or Dad but eventually become real words. 
  • Babies enjoy making sounds back and forth with you.  
  • Babies stop when they hear the word “no”.
  • Babies begin to respond to their name, if they hear you using it frequently.

How to make daily routines into language learning opportunities 

  • All children need to have a variety of experiences, even when they are babies and haven’t yet begun to talk.
  • Language learning happens all day long.  If you talk to babies while you are doing what you do every day, you are helping them to learn new words.
  • During feeding time, dressing time and bath time, talk to babies about things they show interest in.  Give them the words that they will need later when they start talking.  Use fun words during meal time, like “yummy” or “squishy”.  This keeps babies attention.
  • You can repeat words such as “on” and “off” during dressing time and words like “wet” and “splash” at bath time.  Remember to use lots of gestures. Pat the water when you say “splash” and emphasize the on and off movements when putting clothing on or taking it off.
  • Using gestures helps children to see, as well as, hear the words.  Children will learn words more easily, if they are combined with gestures.  Add gestures to every word you use, if possible.  

What are the best ways to encourage speech and language at this stage?

  • Babies need to see your face.  When you are with babies, the more often you can be facing them, the more attention they will pay to your face.  You can also see what they are interested in and talk about it.
  • Start to use babbling sounds like “bababa” or “dadada” and “mamama”.  At this stage babies are starting to make these sound combinations.  Remember to wait for at least five seconds, if necessary, to give a baby a chance to repeat sounds back to you.   It sometimes takes a baby a few seconds to make the sounds again.  Be patient and give lots of time.  Even before babies can talk, they will enjoy making sounds back and forth with you.
  • Use a lot of variety in your voice.  Make sounds in a sing song way.  This gets babies attention and gives them a variety of sounds to imitate back to you.
  • Sing songs to babies.  The rhyme and rhythm of music, gets babies attention and as they get older, they will begin to join in.  Singing songs and rhymes like the “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” are wonderful ways to take turns with babies and to teach them new actions and words. You can learn new songs and rhymes by visiting your community Ontario Early Years Centre, where there are programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and workshops for parents, at no charge. 
  • Repeat many of the words and songs you are sharing with babies.  You might think you have sung the song enough, or said the word 100 times.  Children love repetition and this is how they learn.  You can never say a word or sing a song too many times.
  • When you or someone else is leaving, wave bye-bye and repeat the word and actions.  Wait, to see if baby starts to imitate the actions.
  • Use lots of gestures, like pointing to things and raising your hands while saying “up”.  Children learn words faster when gestures are used with words.
  • Share books with babies.  Even though they might not be interested in the words or the story, they will enjoy their special time with you.  Don’t worry if they want to put the book in their mouth and don’t try to read the story.  Point out pictures and talk about them.  
  • A visit to your public library for baby story time is a good way to begin to get ideas for reading with your child and to meet other parents of babies. Library story times and other activities are listed on library websites such as the London Public LibraryMiddlesex County LibrariesElgin County Libraries and Oxford County Libraries.


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