More Than Making it Through the Day with your 6-9 month old. What to do each day with your 6-9 month old baby.
6-9 months old is a period that can be difficult for parents. It can be hard to think of things to do as baby starts to have longer waketime lengths. Baby might also start to show some need for discipline, which is new territory and parents aren’t exactly sure how to go about it with a baby this young.
During this age range, the book you will reference most is On Becoming Babywise II, though you might still need to turn to On Becoming Babywise at times. If you haven’t read book two yet, now is the time!
Let’s break down the day to get ideas for activities and goals to work on so we aren’t just going from morning to bedtime without making progress in life.
Daily Life of a 6-9 Month Old
This is the age range most people start solids for their baby. With this new addition comes many new rules for your little one. Take note that as your baby learns to eat from a spoon, mealtimes will get a lot longer. Baby may have nursed or downed the bottle in 10-20 minutes, but now he needs to eat solid food, and it takes him some time to figure this out.
During this period, make a goal of creating a good eater. Start good eating habits young. Also make it a goal to have proper mealtime manners during this time period. Your baby is old enough to learn how to do this.
Number of Liquid Feedings: During this age range, most will have 4-5 liquid feedings in a day. At the beginning of it, you might have 6. By the end of it, most will be at 4. If you are nursing, you might need a 5th feeding to maintain supply. If baby doesn’t need to eat 5 times, you could pump right before you went to bed to get 5 “feedings” in. See this post if you are unsure of when to move to a four hour schedule: When to Move to a 4 hour Schedule.
Number of Solid Feedings: Once solids are fully introduced, you will have three meals with solids each day.
Add Prayer: If you are a family that prays, add a prayer to the routine before you start the solids.
Start Training: Start training proper manners in the highchair now. See:
- Baby Whisperer: Start as You Mean to Go On.
- Training in Times of Non-Conflict
- How To Teach Your Baby High Chair Manners
- Throwing/Dropping Food off of the Tray
Create a Good Eater: Along the lines of training, start habits now for your child to establish a good eater. See:
Introducing Solids: You might have a lot of questions about introducing solids. These are some particular posts to get you started:
- Solids: How to Start?
- Feeding Solids on a Babywise Schedule
- Solids: What do they eat at each meal?
- Solids: How Much Food Will Baby Eat?
- Solids: When Do They Master the Spoon?
Making Baby Food: You might have the desire to make your own baby food. If so, see:
Finger Foods and Snacks: You will most likely start to introduce finger foods in this period. Some babies start them as early as 7 months. You might also introduce a snack into the day if needed. See these posts for more:
Sippy Cup: Your child will respond better to the sippy cup if it is introduced in this age range: Introducing a Sippy Cup
Growth Spurts: Growth spurts still happen. There is a huge one at 6 months. For my kids, growth spurts after solids are introduced don’t disrupt the routine. My kids will just eat more at each meal rather than needing more meals in the day. That doesn’t mean this will be true for your child, though. See Growth spurt for more.
Other Posts of Interest:
Hopefully by this age, baby is able to self-soothe and naps are relatively smooth. This isn’t to say all sleep problems are behind you forever, but hopefully they will be fewer and farther between. If your baby does have sleep problems during this period, see this post: 5-8 Month Sleep Disruptions. Also, you will likely run into Nap Disruptions: Rolling, Standing, Crawling, etc
Nap Lengths: You want naps to be 1.5-2.5 hours long. If your baby is one who needs only a 1.5 hour nap, that is fine! This is nothing to worry about.
Down to Two: Most babies will go down to two naps in this age range. For most, this happens around 8 months old. Some, however, will not drop it until the next age range (like my Kaitlyn). Once the third nap is dropped, waketime increases, and often the length of the other two naps increase also. Instead, you might increase nighttime sleep if baby wasn’t sleeping 12 hours. Decide what is best for your baby. See also:
- Dropping Naps: A Quick Reference
- Dropping the 3rd Nap (evening)
- In Action: Dropping the 3rd Nap
- Dropping a Nap: A Weaning Process
Waking Up Happy: Baby should start to wake up happy during the early part of this age range: Waking Up Happy
Heightened Awareness: Most babies are quite aware of their surroundings by this point and very interested in them. Baby might start waking at sleep transitions (see sleep transitions ). The waking appears to be due to a new awareness of the surroundings.
As your child transitions from RSP and ASP sleep, something wakes him. It can be something as simple as a door shutting. Many children don’t want to miss out on the action. My son was this way. When he was 6-12 months, we were very cautious at the 45-minute mark during naps. We would be really quiet so we didn’t wake him up.
He now sleeps great once he is asleep. My daughter (almost 22 months) has always loved sleeping, so this hasn’t been an issue for her. She has had her occasional nap disrupted by a barking dog or noisy brother, but 99% of the time she sleeps right through noise.
Mom, Not Baby, Decides: Keep it up! Please be sure to read this post for more on that: “Mom, not baby, decides…”
Vary Sleep Locations: If you haven’t yet, you might want to start: Sleeping Tip: Vary Sleeping Locations
Now on to the activities to do during your waking hours. This is the information most of you are probably looking for.
Independent Playtime (Playpen Time)
I said this in the 0-6 month post (More Than Making it Through the Day: 0-6 Months ), but it is worthy of repeating. If there was one waketime activity principle I chose to take from Babywise, it would be Independent Playtime. I see it as the most valuable waketime activity to have.
If you haven’t yet started independent playtime with your child, start now. It is never too late. If you have, keep it up. See Word to the Weary: Independent Playtime Benefits if you need more convincing.
This is the age range when independent playtime starts to look more like you would imagine. It will most likely be in the playpen.
Proper Time Length: Here are the times to shoot for with your child based on her skills. 15-30 minutes twice a day for the independent sitter. 30-45 minutes at least once a day for the crawler. This is what you want to be at. If you aren’t, make it a goal to get there. For more in-depth coverage on this, see Independent Playtime Lengths .
In Action: For a child in this age range, you essentially choose the best time of day (I find in the morning to usually be the best, but it can vary for your family. When it is twice a day, I would usually do in the morning and then in the evening-ish when I was fixing dinner). You put your child in the playpen with some toys. You don’t want too many toys, but you also don’t want too little.
Rotate the toys on occasion so your child does not get bored. Your child should be alone (hence the independent). I put the playpen in a room where the child will be alone and not see me walking around. I don’t mind them hearing me if that doesn’t interfere with it all, but not see. You tell them to have fun, you love them, and good-bye. You might set a timer or you might just watch the clock. When time is over, you go in with a very happy face, ask if they had fun, and tell them it is time to clean up. You then clean up and encourage your child to help.
See this post for more on independent playtime: Independent Playtime. See this post if you are experiencing Resistance to Independent Playtime . With the longer waketime, you might also run into this at times: Falling Asleep During Independent Playtime.
Free playtime can be in the presence of other family members. She can sit in her highchair and play with toys while you make dinner. Once she can sit up on her own well, you can give her a basket of toys on the floor to play with. See Free Playtime for more on this.
If you have more than one child, you can have sibling playtime. You do not have to leave your children alone for this. When Kaitlyn was in this age-range, I still sat in on sibling playtime. Brayden never did anything questionable, but he was 2.5, which I felt was too young to be left alone with a 6-9 month old baby. There were times I would leave the room for a minute or two, but I was always within fast return to the children. Exactly what you do is up to you, your children, and the ages/maturity level of your older child/children.
This can be in a toy room, outside, and really you could have it be with something like a walk. At 6-9 months, your baby will love to spend time with the older sibling(s) each day. See this post for more on sibling playtime: Sibling Playtime. I wrote it when Kaitlyn was 10 months old.
One-on-One Time With Each Parent
Be sure that you have some time set aside each day for each parent to spend quality time with the baby. This can be in conjunction with other daily activities (reading, bathing, feeding solids, etc.) or it can be simply the parent playing with the baby. This is time when you are 100% baby’s. In this age range, most fathers find it much easier to do this one-on-one time since baby is quite interactive. Many babies will even enjoy the natural “rough-ness” that Dad’s bring to playing time.
One note, if you have this one-on-one time be another activity, be sure you are focused on baby. If it is during feeding solids, don’t have the TV on, don’t be talking on the phone, etc. You are spending time with baby.
You might start to have play dates every so often with other children. At this age, the baby will at most just watch the other child (don’t expect much interaction), but it can be fun for your child to see that other children are out there, especially if this is your first.
Believe it or not, this is the age range to start signing (if you haven’t already). Your baby understands much more than you realize. Both of my children said their first words in this age range (though not all do). Your baby comprehends so much. There are some things you can do throughout the day to encourage language development. See this post for more: Language Development
Read. Read books to your child. We have story time routinely with our bedtime routine. You can also have other stories during the day if you want to. The Value of Reading Aloud to Your Children
Avoid Baby Talk. Call words by their correct name. Pronounce the consonants in the word. Speak to your baby like she is a person who can understand you.
Talk. Speak to your child throughout the day.
Sing. Singing songs can be an interesting way for baby to hear words.
Sign. If you haven’t already, start signing with your baby. This gives baby the ability to communicate. She can use her hands to communicate sooner than her mouth in most cases. Set goals in this. You can have a sign of the week at first. Eventually, you can introduce a new sign each day.
For my children, this age range is when bathtime gets to be a lot more fun. Remember that as your child gets older, you need to be mindful of times you need to correct behavior. Bathtime can bring opportunities. Your child will splash, and how much splashing is appropriate will depend on you. Your child might start to try to stand up toward the end of this stage. See these posts also:
Assuming the weather is good enough for your baby during this time period, spend time outside. Since your baby is now much more aware of what is going on around her, this will be a much more fascinating activity. There is so much for your baby to take in.
Walks. Take your baby for a walk. I remember that for some walks in this age range Brayden would spend the entire walk watching the wheels of the stroller. This seems boring and strange to me, but it was something new to him. He is also very mechanical, so it makes sense that he showed interest in this (Kaitlyn never has).
Park. Your child isn’t old enough to run around the playground equipment, but she might enjoy swinging or having you help her down the slide. She also might enjoy people watching.
Just Outside. You can spread a blanket out, bring some toys, and let your child sit and play. There will be much for your child to observe.
Hikes. If your family enjoys this, you can go for hikes.
Other. There are so many different outdoor activities you can introduce your child to. Swimming is one. Perhaps a trip to the corn maze. Maybe sledding.
Your child will be much more interested in playing with toys in this age range. See these posts for guidance with that:
Your baby will really enjoy songs. You can sing or you can buy CDs to play. Your baby doesn’t care about your skill level–he isn’t an American Idol judge :). Sing those silly songs you have forgotten exist (you can Google them to get the lyrics) like Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.
Now is the time to start.
- Be proactive and directive. That means you address “issues” before they are issues and you direct your child to do the right behavior rather than waiting to respond to a situation after your child starts it. A post on this topic is written and scheduled for next Monday. See page 57 in Babywise II for more.
- Think things through. Think through the things your child could do during this age range that isn’t appropriate. A lot of this will depend on your child’s mobility. A crawler can get into more mischief than a non-crawler. Something all babies will do during this age is eat in a highchair. See posts below for ideas on what can go wrong and how to respond to them. Once you have your list (and it won’t be complete; your baby will surprise you with ideas of her own), decide first how you can prevent them from happening. See proactive and directive above. Then make a list of ideas for how to respond when your baby tests that limit. Then when it happens, you will be prepared to respond to it. You will also be preventing it from happening, which avoids a lot of conflict. See Prevention.
- Baby Highchair Manners
- Tips for Baby Proofing Your Home
- How to Know What Freedoms to Give Baby
- Discipline: Progress is a Spiral
- Teaching Your Baby “No”
- Why You Can Give Your Baby Rules and Boundaries
Other Goal Suggestions
- It’s All About Perspective
- Enjoy the Moment
- Parenting Responsibility
- Baby Whisperer: Skills of a Good Parent
- If your baby is nearing the end of this age range, be sure to look forward to the 9-12 month age range.