Baby Nurse Question: My baby just turned nine months old. I’m already noticing her transitioning out of the baby stage but what else can I expect in the coming months and what sort of activities should I be doing with her?

I’ve been getting these types of questions from a lot of parents lately and I think that’s because around the nine-month mark things tend to drastically change—that same little bundle you brought home from the hospital only months ago who mostly just ate, slept, and smiled, is suddenly mobile, vocal and curiously exploring everything. Here are a few things you can expect and how to aid your baby’s development.

Crawling: At nine months, your baby is likely to have just started or even have mastered crawling.  Whatever point your baby is at, do not worry—some babies crawl early, some a little later but they catch up to one another eventually. The fact is, your baby is getting ready to walk whether he is crawling or not.  You can see this as he is quickly learning to change positions, push from crawling position to sitting, and then pivot around to pick up a toy. You can help encourage this development by placing favorite toys and new objects just out of reach so he’ll have to find a way to retrieve them.

Walking: As with crawling, walking can happen early around nine months or late, closer to eighteen months. Keep in mind, in the early stages of walking your baby does not need shoes because standing and walking in bare feet help him to develop muscles and tendons in his foot. So hold of on investing in pricey shoes until your baby is actually walking or around a year old. By this time you’ll want to have baby proofing complete so you can encourage your baby’s mobility without too many frustrating boundaries (i.e. removing fragile items, covering or removing sharp edges and corners, protecting electrical sockets, gating and locking unsafe areas such as stairs, etc.)

Language: In addition to your nine-month-old baby’s new mobile skills he will more rapidly continue to build those trillions of connections that will create the foundation for his language development. It is not at all necessary to purchase any fancy toys, computerized games or DVDs at this stage—nothing will take the place of your voice when it comes to speech, comprehension and cognitive stimulation. Keeping it simple with toys such as wooden blocks, reading, singing and talking to your baby is all he needs to foster brain development. Spending quality time with your baby is the most important.

If you have any concerns at all about your baby’s mile stones, development or behavior, never hesitate contact your baby’s pediatrician—that’s what they’re there for.