Nine-month-olds are in the thick of their babyhood. Their personality is exploding, and they want to move, communicate, eat, and play!
Nine-month old milestones are so much fun, and there are many educational toys and tools that will serve this age. You and your little one can make the most of this age by meeting their interests and capabilities with age-appropriate activities.
The best gifts for nine-month olds are ones that invite them to move, to practice their hand-eye coordination and allow them to learn about the world around them through sensory experiences. Read on for specific examples!
An essential educational toy for your nine-month-old is a classic Montessori material known as The Stacker.
The Stacker consists of a thick dowel on a rocking base with rings of varying sizes that fit on the dowel. The qualities of a good developmental toy are that your child will not master it the first time they use it.
Here’s how it works.
- Introduce this work to your baby starting with just the largest ring. Show them how to take the ring off the dowel and slowly put the ring back on the dowel. When you move deliberately, you give them the chance to watch how you place the ring exactly over the center of the dowel before moving it down. This gives your little one more information for when they do it themselves.
- As they begin to master using just one ring, you can introduce two, and then three rings. This activity supports their fine-motor control, as they have to grasp the ring with their fingers, and it supports their hand-eye coordination, as they work to place the ring exactly on the dowel.
- The stacker offers the added benefit of a cognitive exercise—your baby will experiment with which ring to put on the dowel first, and they will see how order affects the way the rings fit.
In this video: Monti Kids online lessons teach parents how to introduce toys to their babies for maximum learning potential.
The best gross motor toy for your nine-month-old is a walker wagon.
By now, they are crawling or on the verge of crawling. Once they are crawling well, they are going to want to pull up and walk!
There is research that shows the many benefits of time spent crawling, and you do not want to rush their development, so this toy is not intended to speed up the process. But by supplying the walker wagon, which they are capable of using independently, you are inviting them to explore the next stage of their gross motor movement at their own pace.
Once they are able to pull up, they can hold onto the handle of the walker wagon. As it rolls forward, they will begin to move their feet in a walking movement. If you have a wagon that rolls too quickly for them, you can introduce it in the grass, or you can place a pile of heavy books or hand weights to slow it down as they get used to the coordination required for walking. When their confidence increases, you can put it on a smooth surface, and they will use their own balance to moderate the speed.
The walker wagon is an excellent way to practice walking because your baby can do it independently of you.
Additionally, they will practice in a comfortable position for their body, rather than by holding your hands above their own head.
At nine months old, your baby may be ready for the beginning of artistic activity.
Block crayons are an excellent way to introduce this work. These kinds of crayons have the advantage of a larger surface area. They have room for your little one to hold it securely between their thumb and a few other fingers. When you give your baby pencils or markers that require a well-developed pincer grip, they will probably just grab it with their whole hand, and they will miss the opportunity to continue to strengthen their fingers.
- When you are ready to introduce this work to them, put out one piece of paper and one block crayon at a low table.
- You will want to keep this work simple so that your baby can easily understand its purpose.
- Once your baby is sitting in their chair, you can show them how you hold the block crayon in a radial digital grasp (between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers) and move it back and forth on the paper to make a picture.
- Put just a few marks on the paper so they do not have to wait too long for their turn! Then give them the crayon and let them do it.
- If you find your baby just wants to eat the crayon, then gently show them again how to use it for drawing.
- If they insist on continuing to sample the crayon then put the work away and try again later. All babies are different and they change quickly, so they may simply need another introduction to the work in a few weeks!
Books are an important developmental tool.
Research has shown the advantages of reading regularly to babies from a very young age. The language of the books, the intonations of their caregiver’s voices, and the quality time all have an immense effect on babies’ development.
For your baby, you will want a mixture of paper and board books. If they are able to sit and not tear the pages, then the paper pages will offer a more authentic experience, and also tend to provide larger pictures. But if they struggle with being careful, or if you would like to be able to leave them alone with books, then there is nothing wrong with having board books for them to choose from. In either case, you will want to model treating the books with care, and if they persist in being quite rough, you will probably want to put them aside and try again later.
As for topics, Dr. Montessori believed that the finest subject matter for the child under six was based in reality. This means that you will save fantastical books for when they are older. A young child does not know that tigers can’t drive, fish can’t talk, and people can’t fly. The world is already a beautiful and spectacular place to live, and when you give your baby real information about the world, you are building the foundation of their intelligence and imagination. There will be plenty of time for the fun of fantasy once they understand how the world really works.
Finally, a dining set may not seem like an educational toy at first glance, but it will teach them a lot about how to be independent. By now, your baby is already enjoying solid food at the table. When they have their own utensils, cup, and bowl, they can be an active participant in this activity.
- It may be too much to lay out all the dining ware at once, so you can start with just one utensil and the cup.
- Show them how to spear a soft cube of food, such as a sliced sweet potato, with the fork and then bring it to their mouth. They may need help getting the food onto their fork, but let them do as much of the process as possible.
- Show your baby how to drink from a little cup. Place a small amount of water in the cup, and then let them bring the cup to their mouth. Assume that they will spill most of the water as they experiment with how the cup works.
Mealtime is messy at this age! As your little one becomes more confident with these dining items, you can introduce the spoon and bowl. Show them how to place the spoon into the bowl to get the food and then let them put it in their mouths.
As with all Montessori work, if they abuse the materials by throwing them on the floor or repeatedly banging, you can put it away and try again later. The journey towards independence in eating will not happen overnight, but opportunities from a young age will help them with this process.
These five educational toys and materials are all relevant and enjoyable for your nine-month-old baby. As you introduce these activities, remember that all babies are different. Your baby may use this work exactly how it is described here or they may interact with it a little differently. Likewise, you may find that they are not interested in these toys until they are a little older! The point is simply to know what your baby might want to do at a particular age, and then provide the opportunities to age when it is developmentally appropriate. Enjoy!