At 9 months old, your baby has most likely, already distinguished night from day and settled into a regular routine. Even if you don’t follow a strict, routine schedule, your little one probably has an idea on what to expect each day.
Although they are so young and barely walking, they seem to want to get into everything! This is completely normal and while it keeps us running behind them all day, exploring and curiosity is a great developmental milestone.
Which, is why it’s important that we encourage our little busy bodies to STAY busy. Though not to the point of overstimulation, nap and meal time are just as important. When they are not sleeping, eating or being absolutely adorable, “how can we keep our 9 month old busy”?
Whether or not we choose to entertain our little ones ourselves, they will find excitement in something around the house, in order to keep themselves busy! It’s up to us to keep them out of our toilet paper, away from our pots/pans and into something more safe, age appropriate and stimulating.
Every baby is different. They have so much personality, even at this age, so sit back and let your little one show you what they enjoy. It’ll be much easier to engage your 9 month old once you have a good idea of what they enjoy and when they enjoy it. Considering, babies and toddlers tend to have a wide curiosity, with a short attention span.
Create a flexible schedule
Try to create a flexible schedule around your babies needs and interest. It may take you following their lead for a few days. To do this, you can start off with a basic eat, sleep, play schedule and tailor it to fit yours and your baby’s needs. I find it easier to fit my baby into a schedule that works for him, rather than to force a strict schedule on him, that I’ve created myself.
Creating the schedule is quite simple, sticking to it, is where it can become difficult. Our goal here, is just to create one, so that our little one has a full day ahead of them. To start, here’s a downloadable example of a basic eat, play, sleep schedule for a 9 month old.
Tailor the schedule to fit your baby’s needs
Once you’ve got your basic schedule set up, adjust the timing of each task, according to the time that your baby willingly does them. For example, if your initial schedule was; eat at 10am, sleep at 12pm, but your baby didn’t show interst in food until 10:30am and started rubbing their eyes around 1pm, go ahead and change the timing on your schedule. This way, we create a successful schedule our baby enjoys, which results in less frustration on our part as well.
Previously, I became quickly frustrated when starting solids with my baby boy. I wanted him to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, play, then nap. He wanted to play first thing in the morning, eat breakfast, then nap.
For a while, I assumed he just wasn’t interested in the solids I offered to him. Turns out, he wasn’t interested in them at the time and by time I mean, time of day. This just goes to say; timing is very important when it comes to creating a successful schedule for your busy, 9 month old.
So, you’ve established a pretty solid wake and eat schedule, next you’ll want to try and make the most of play time. Pull out your little one’s favorite toys and let him/her choose one or more.
Encourage play time by getting to their level, [which most likely is on the floor], and play along. Make music together, share laughter and excitement when your baby plays with a toy.
One reason babies become bored, is lack of excitement. Therefore, the best way to make an exciting toy, even more exciting, is to get a little animated and display excitement with your emotions, clap and laugh during play time. Use this time to really enjoy your bundle of joy.
Most babies enjoy playing peek-a-boo, making it the perfect game to play with your little one and stay engaged. Around 9 months, babies really start to pick up on how to play the game. They may try to mimick you, cover your face and pull your hands away, look for you, or try to mouth the words themselves.
Another fun and engaging game you can enjoy with your baby is “pat-a-cake”, the nursery rhyme game. You can sing the song for your baby and help them clap their hands, pat their knees and roll their arms. “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”, is a fun one as well.
These games are great ways to play with your little one and are sure to keep them entertained. If you aren’t familiar with the nursery rhymes, you can reference them from this “Baby Game Refresher Course” by What to Expect.
I also recommend encouraging your baby to enjoy independent play. Independent play can be beneficial for both mom and baby. I can usually get at least 30 minutes of play out of my little one, as long as I am nearby or in the room. Just scatter a few toys in a safe area or play pin and sit your baby down to play.
Activity centers, indoor jungle gyms and learning tables are great independent play toys, for 9 month old babies. As well as, babies that are mobile and enjoy crawling, climbing and standing. Just be sure to check that the toys are safe and the area you choose to place your baby, is well baby proofed.
Besides encouraging a little independence, this will also give mom a break and your baby some alone time. Everyone can appreciate a little alone time, even babies.
Making sure the area is safe, ensures that you will not need to hover over and cling to them. You should be able to sit back and watch them over a cup of tea, without being worried. Once your baby gets used to independent play, you may even be able to leave your little one in a playpen, with a few toys, while you shower or prepare dinner.
The best way to baby proof, is to get to your baby’s level and scope out possible dangers. Such as; small objects, unsturdy tables/stands, outlets, things they can step on to climb, suffocation/choking hazards, sharp corners/edges, things that may fall on top of them, chemicals and cabinets/doors/drawers they can get into.
Organize as many rooms as possible, and install baby gates to rooms that are unsafe, as well as, over the stairways. Here’s a starter baby proofing kit and check out this “room-by-room guide” on baby proofing.
Another way I like to keep my 9 month old busy, is through learning. There are so many ways to learn through; linguistic, cognitive, social, emotional, and physical learning. So there’s always something to do in this area, to keep your baby busy. That can consist of walking, talking, reading, objects, colors and more.
I like to walk my baby through the house and point out things that gets his attention, naming the object and its colors. As well as, telling him what the object is used for.
For example, if we walk into the bedroom, I will point to the ceiling, doors, windows, lights and bed. I’ll then begin to explain to him that “beds are for nap time and sleeping, windows let in sunshine, doors open and close”, etc…
My little one really enjoys taking walks through the house, entering each room, he pays close attention when I speak to him. This is good for communication, gesturing, memory, environmental awareness and more.
Although I prefer reading before nap and bedtime, it’s one of my baby’s favorite learning activities. Sensosry books with bright colors and images are great for learning objects, colors and communication.
I highly recommend interactive books such as; “See Touch Feel, “See Touch Fell Create” and “Peek-a-Boo“, books. Which, keeps your baby interested in reading and encourages them to explore and feel the pages in the book.
Soft books that crinkle, like the “Very Hungry Caterpillar Soft Book“, are great for younger babies and board books, like the “Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book” are great for older babies. Both are safe for your baby to read, without worrying of paper cuts, ripping or chewing.
Physical learning and Exercise
I consider physical learning to be anything motor related, such as; crawling, climbing, walking, balancing etc…Babies will meet these milestones at different times. Depending on what your baby is focusing on, that will help you decide what type of physical and motor skills to practice.
Each month may be something new. One month you may be laying a blanket, encouraging tummy time and crawling. The next, holding your baby’s hands, walking through the house. Whichever it may be, physical learning can be great exercise and practice makes perfect.
I also like to encourage fun, social interactions. Such as; clapping, waving, hugs and kisses. It’s rather simple to do. I’ll just sit my little one in front of me, on the bed or floor and practice saying the name, while doing the gesture repeatedly.
For example, I will sing “clap your hands”, while clapping slowly, or sing “say hello/hello baby”, while waving. Then, before bed and in the morning, I ask him to “give mom a kiss”, and say “big hug”, while gesturing him to do so and remembering to say “thank you”. Singing the names of the interactions makes it fun and interesting.
At some point, once your baby’s all played out, he or she may enjoy some quiet, down time. Too much learning and play time, can cause a baby to become overstimulated. This is when your little one will display tiredness and may become fussy or overwhelmed.
Somewhere between all those fun and stimulating activities, add some cuddle and nap times to your baby’s busy schedule. That way, your day will consist of; waking, playing, nursing/bottle feeding, learning, solids and naps.
At 9 months, your baby may be taking 2 or 3 naps per day, depending on how many hours they slept overnight. A tired baby, may seem uncomfortable and won’t take interest in any activity, for too long. Therefore, encourage naps. They are extremely important and ensures a happy baby.
Create a bed time routine
Bed time routines are great for babies, especially past 6 months, when they may start to experience some sleep regression. Having a bed time routine in place, is another way to help your baby settle down, and avoid over stimulation, after a long day. It lets them know that bed time is approaching and gets them into a calm and relaxed mood.
Here’s an example of a basic and essential, bedtime routine, I like to use for my 9 month old baby…
If you do not already have a bed time routine in place, I recommend trying this one. Of course, you’ll want to tailor it to your baby’s needs and interest.
Bathtime immediately after solids, is most convenient for me, because baby-led weaning can get quite messy. So it makes since for me to put him in his tub right after. Even if I don’t run a full bath, I still place my baby on a towel and clean him with a warm wash cloth. This way he’s clean, comfortable and can still associate it with bed time.
Find what works for you and your baby
While my little one loves baths and get pretty relaxed afterwards, some babies dislike baths, or enjoy it so much, they become playful. So, depending on how your baby enjoys bath time, you may or may not want to incorporate it into your routine.
The same goes for reading, nursing and singing. If your baby associates reading with play time, you may prefer to sing them a lullaby before before bed, instead of reading. While I still nurse my 9 month old to sleep, you may prefer to place your baby in bed while drowsy and awake.
Other bedtime activities to consider are; teeth brushing (if your little one has teeth), white noise, soft music playlists, baby massages and aromatherapy.
Try a few, see what works for you and your baby and be patient. Maybe even switch it up often, or every few months. After all, babies are constantly growing, changing and finding new interest every day. If your baby enjoys it and it helps them relax for bed, it works!
Adding a bedtime routine to your baby’s daily schedule, pretty much wraps up the full day. Now, even if you choose not to follow a strict schedule, you’ll still have one to reference, if needed, to keep your busy baby occupied.
Baby activities on the go
There may be some days when sticking to a schedule, isn’t even an option. This could be due to a heavy work load for mom/dad or you just need to leave the home. If that’s the case you may want to consider how to keep your 9 month old busy and on the go.
Baby wearing is a great way to get things done on the go, around the house, in the office or keep your little one calm and entertained without losing work.
Baby wearing is convenient especially for breastfeeding mothers, because your baby has easy access to nurse and the wrap can discretely cover you if you’re away from home. I know of moms who do everything while baby wearing; dancing, working out, shopping, setting the table, walking the dog, doing hair, household chores, typing a paper for school and more.
It takes multi tasking to a higher level and is also great for bonding. The closeness, makes your baby feel secure, they can hear your heart beat, smell your scent, and the movement from walking through the home, helps baby fall asleep. It’s quite similar to what your baby experienced in the womb.
Baby Carrier vs Baby Wraps
The most common types of baby wearing are the carrier and the wrap/sling. Both are great and all depends on your preference. I was gifted both, the carrier and the wrap while pregnant, and have found that they are both quite comfortable. The purpose is to be able to carry your baby around hands free, and they’ve proven to work.
The baby carrier sort of looks like a back pack, with arm and leg holes. You place your baby inside and just adjust the straps comfortably. It can be worn in front of or behind you and your baby can be rear or front facing.
There are even baby carriers that supports your baby on your hip. I prefer to wear my carrier in back of me, with my baby facing towards me. I’ve found that it’s not a comfortable in front of me, compared to the baby wrap/sling.
The baby wraps are a large piece of stretchy cloth that can be worn several different ways. Knowing how to put the wrap on, depends on the brand you have. Most of them you just tie in different ways. Just like the baby carrier, you can wear them in front, behind, or to the side, with your baby rear or forward facing.
I prefer to wear mine in front, with my baby facing me, so that I can breastfeed him to sleep. It almost feels as if he’s wrapped in a receiving blanket, on my chest. I feel comfortable with him falling asleep this way, opposed to in the carrier. If my baby falls asleep in the carrier, I feel safer placing him in his bed.
The baby wrap is comfortable and to me, feels more natural. Although, some moms have said it makes them feel pregnant again. I can understand why, but it’s still pretty comfortable.
Go for a walk/stroll
Other ways to keep your little one busy, on the go, is to explore outdoors (weather permitted). You can wear your baby or place them in a stroller and go for a walk/stroll.
Older babies can be placed in a wagon or cart, as long as they are labeled safe for outdoors, with a seat belt. Visiting the mall or park, is a great way to get baby used to the outdoors, seeing other people, and being away from home.
If you’ll be outdoors, I recommend keeping walks short. Depending on the age of your baby, their skin is still very delicate and too much air, sunlight or allergens, may irritate your baby’s airways or skin.
As long as you don’t over do it, the outdoors are great for you and your baby. It allows you to get some fresh air, if you’ve been in the house all week. Also, babies who are breastfed, can really benefit from the vitamin D of indirect, sun exposure.
Keep toys, distractions and security objects close
Going for a stroll can keep your little one entertained, but packing a few toys in the diaper bag is safe. Pack multiple toys or distractions, just in case your baby drops one out of the stroller.
I do this, when going anywhere with my busy body, since young babies get bored quickly. I also suggest packing a security object, such as; a blanket, teddy or pacifier, if your baby has one. This is to soothe your little one if they become overstimulated and tired.
The most important thing to remember, when finding ways to keep your 9 month old or young baby busy, is to be patient! Patience is key to motherhood and can promote calmness and stability.
Try to remember that your baby is still getting used to the, very large, world around them. Exploring their curiosity is an important part of growth and development.
Creating a schedule, bonding and playing/learning with your baby daily, is a great way to keep your little one busy and enjoy them at the same time. Remember that every baby is different, so spend quality time with your bundle of joy and that’ll help you learn what they enjoy doing most. Aside from cuddling up under their favorite human, that is.
I hope you find these tips helpful and if you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy “Finding Patience in Motherhood“.