Child Development: Helping Your Baby Grow and Learn

9 Months to 1 Year

Help your baby learn to crawl by placing interesting objects just out of reach.
Help your baby learn to crawl by placing interesting objects just out of reach.
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Learn the language: As we mentioned above, language skills won't really take off until year two, but baby is already starting to realize her ability to make sounds. By 6 months of age she was probably practicing vowel sounds and now may be combining vowels and consonants. Help her progress by repeating what she says and offering new combinations for her to try — ba ba, ma ma, da da — says Chernoff. For now they're just sounds; eventually baby will figure out that mama applies to mom and dada applies to dad.

Crawl and walk: Baby will probably crawl, cruise and possibly walk during this period. You can help encourage movement by placing interesting objects just out of reach, says Wallace. Or, spice things up by creating a cardboard-box tunnel for baby to crawl through. "That encourages them to crawl but also helps them develop spacial relationships," she says.

Stack, squeeze and snap: At this age babies will enjoy putting objects into other objects, fitting objects together and stacking them. Blocks and plasticware are a baby's best friend now. You can also cut a sponge into different shapes and let baby stick them to the side of the tub. Now is a good time to introduce zippers and snaps, although baby won't be able to master the technique for some time to come.

Keep in mind that all babies develop at their own pace and that what may be normal for one will not be for another. Your goal in helping baby to grown and learn is not to develop a "superbaby," but rather to help your child develop to her full potential. "As parents we feel tremendous pressure to do all the right things," says Wallace. "But what's most important is to help them connect to people and relate effectively to their environment." And anyhow, your baby will always be a superbaby to you.

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