Your 9-month-old is a child on the move exploring, investigating, and experimenting. Hiding things and peek-a-boo games are endlessly interesting to him because he can now picture things that aren't in front of him. As you might imagine, this curiosity and thinking ability makes him more fun to play with—and more challenging as well. This visit will be livelier than the past ones.
- At the 9-month visit, your provider will focus on your child's nutrition, sleep, and development. It's also catch-up time for any vaccinations you might have missed.
- A 9-month-old may take one look at his health care provider and scream. Don't be embarrassed—it's what we expect him to do. The more time you allow him to check things out from the safety of your lap, the less upset he's likely to get. However, your baby's personality will come out in how he responds to this visit. Some can be coaxed into a smile and play; others will cling to mom or dad the whole time.
At this visit, your provider will probably:
- Provide insight into your baby's development, temperament, and behavior.
- Help you develop a plan to teach your baby to sleep soundly at night, if he's not already doing so. This is the age he's likely to start awakening again.
Your provider will want to know:
- Has your baby seen another health care provider since the last visit? If so, why? What was the outcome of that visit, and were any medications or treatments prescribed?
- Can your baby sit pretty well without support? Can he twist and turn from a stable sitting position? Can he get into a sitting position easily?
- Is he crawling, or starting to crawl? Creeping, scooting, and hitching are all legitimate forms of movement.
- Can he pull himself up to standing?
- Can he use the pincer grasp to pick up small objects?
- Can he feed himself with his fingers?
- Does he poke at things with his index finger?
- Is he anxious around strangers?
- Does he say "Mama" or "Dada" yet?
- What games does he know (peekaboo, pat-a-cake, wave bye-bye, etc.)? What are his favorite toys, and how does he play with them? Does he shake them, bang them, drop them, or throw them?
- Does he have his first teeth? Babies this age may have their top and bottom incisors.
- Does he respond to his own name?
- Does he recognize a few words?
Talk It Over
Here are some other issues you and your provider may want to discuss at this visit:
- Nutrition. What foods is your baby eating? Report a general daily meal plan. Is she feeding herself finger food? Can she drink from a cup? Report what milk she's on—it should be breast milk or formula at this age.
- Vitamins and / or iron supplements. Discuss vitamins with your provider before you give them to your baby. If you're a vegetarian, take some extra time to talk about your baby's diet. B vitamins, iron, and other minerals will be especially important to him if he's not eating meat. Discuss any special dietary issues in your family. Families on WIC and many other will need a hematocrit check, a test for anemia, at this point.
- Follow-up tests. If your baby had a hearing test or eye exam because of some special concern, remind your health care provider now. It may be a good time for follow-up tests. If your child has had a lot of ear infections, ask your health care provider whether he needs a hearing test now.
- Contagious diseases. If someone in your household or someone in close contact with the baby has a serious infectious disease such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, or meningitis, bring it up now. Your baby may need to be tested.
- Recent illnesses, medications, or emergencies. If your child is taking any medication or has visited an emergency room for any reason since the last visit, let your provider know. Bring the records and medicine with you.
- Discipline. It's best to get advice now, before your baby turns into a toddler with opinions of his own. Discuss limit-setting now.
- Safety. This is the time you need to look closely at how safe your household is. Discuss what you've done to childproof your house so far, and find out where to turn locally in case of accidental ingestion or emergencies.
- Lead. If you live in a house built before 1972, your child may be at risk for lead poisoning. Ask about getting the test if your child hasn't had it yet.
- Sleep issues. Sleep problems are common at this age, but your provider can help. Keep a record of your baby's sleep patterns over three days and bring it to your visit.
- Family issues. If there's been a big change in your family—like a job switch or loss, a death, a divorce, or anything that could be causing stress in the family—let your provider know. This will affect your baby, and you'll want to find out ways to help him cope.
- Anxiety. If you're too worried to let your baby play on the floor on in a play pen, bring it up to your health care provider now.
- Child care changes or issues. If you have made a change in your child care providers or will soon, let the health care provider know. He or she can suggest ways to make it less stressful for your child.
Your health care provider should definitely know if your baby:
- Isn't making sounds or if his sounds have decreased.
- Doesn't turn to familiar words, especially his own name.
- Chokes or has trouble with solid foods or with drinking from a cup.
- Is off-balance when he moves his arms or legs, or uses one side more than the other.
- Isn't moving around in some manner.
- Doesn't turn his head toward sounds.
- Doesn't demonstrate his special relationship with you or other family members, or shows no awareness or wariness of strangers.
- Doesn't bear his weight when he's held in a standing position.
- Can't get up on his hands when placed on his tummy.
- Doesn't have health insurance. There are programs that can provide coverage.
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