Skip to main content

What to expect at your baby’s 9-month checkup

A happy baby gets a doc checkupYour baby’s 9-month doctor’s checkup is a pivotal marker in a baby’s development. That’s in large part because of the important developmental milestones occurring during their age.

Pediatricians cover a lot of ground in a baby’s 9-month checkup, analyzing behavior patterns, developmental progress, and of course physical health. This includes several questions for you — so take a look at this list and make sure you have the right information at the ready.

Keep in mind that this list covers a “well-baby” checkup, as opposed to one where a baby may have acute or uncommon health issues. And in news that’s music to any parent’s ears, there are usually no shots at the 9-month checkup.

(Immunization schedules and other specific components of a checkup can vary, so check with your doctor’s office beforehand for more information.)

A doctor and baby at a checkup

Full physical checkup

A physical workup is central to most any doctor visit, and that goes for adults as well as babies. Some common physical components of a 9-month baby appointment can include:

  • Using a stethoscope to check heart rate and breathing
  • Checking eyes and ears for various conditions and potential infection
  • Looking in the mouth for teeth and signs of infection
  • Inspecting the top of your baby’s head for soft spots (“fontanels”)
  • Checking reflexes and examining skin for rashes and discoloration
  • Feeling the abdomen for a hernia or enlarged organs
  • Inspecting the diaper area for signs of infection
  • Moving your baby’s legs to look for joint problems

Be ready to answer questions

Pediatricians will undoubtedly want to talk with the baby’s parents or guardian. Before you head to the appointment, confirm that you have as much information prepared as possible. If this means doing a bit of research beforehand to better track or remember the specifics of your baby’s habits, so much the better.

Some common questions to prepare for at the 9-month checkup include:

  • How’s your baby sleeping? There’s a good chance your 9-month-old is not yet sleeping through the night. Log your baby’s sleeping patterns (time and duration are plenty) if you want to give your doctor the best information possible.
  • Have you babyproofed your home? If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to childproof much of the house against little hands and feet that are about to become a lot more mobile. This includes stairs and electrical outlets, unsafe areas of the house like the kitchen, and cabinets containing any potentially hazardous items. Also, always make sure car seats are properly installed.
  • Has your baby starting crawling? Little by little, most babies have started crawling, slithering, or otherwise transporting themselves around the house at this stage. Some might even be pulling themselves up on furniture.
  • Is your baby talking? Your baby’s babbling is slowly turning into actual words. If your baby is talking, tell the doctor which words your baby can say, as well as those that they understand, such as their name.
  • How are your baby’s motor skills? The pediatrician will likely want to know more about your baby’s gross and fine motor skills. For gross motor skills, think larger movements — one example for a baby at 9 months is the ability to get into a sitting position with no help. An example of fine motor skills at this age would be a more detailed task, like picking up a small object between the thumb and forefinger.

Developmental milestones

All those skills your baby has been perfecting? The doctor will want to see them, too, if possible. Some 9-month milestones include:

  • Getting into a sitting position, sitting unassisted
  • Crawling
  • Pulling up to stand
  • Working to get something that’s out of reach
  • Objecting to the absence or removal of a favorite item
  • Understanding his or her name
  • Laughing
  • Mimicking sounds and gestures
  • Pointing and using other nonverbal communication
  • Babbling, or perhaps saying “Dada” or “Mama”

With so much going on in your baby’s life, there’s plenty for your pediatrician to check at 9 months. With the first birthday on the horizon, this is an exciting time in a baby’s developmental timeline.

As always, there is a wide range of normal when it comes to baby development. If you have any concerns, ask the doctor.

Editors' Recommendations

Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
Some babies want to be held while sleeping: Here’s why
Tips to help with this situation
Father holding baby in nursery.

Those first few days and weeks after your newborn comes home from the hospital are filled with happiness, but they are also trying too. As parents adjust to having a newborn in the house, it can be difficult to find time for your own personal care as well as household chores. Even taking a shower on some days seems like a luxury.

Now, if your newborn wants to be held all night or while napping, it can be even more challenging. Just finding the time to get some sleep yourself is like a pipe dream. Why do some babies want to be held constantly while sleeping? The first step is understanding why newborns want to be held all night, what you can do to manage, and when baby will sleep in a crib. Don't worry. Just because your newborn wants to be cuddled while sleeping doesn't mean you won't be able to.

Read more
Concerned with baby scratching their nose? This is what it might mean
Here's when a baby scratching their nose is normal
A little child holding a tissue in their hand and crinkling their face up.

Watching your child discover new things is always exciting, especially once they find their hands. At this point, you may find that they are obsessed with touching anything and everything. Among their exploring, you may have noticed your baby scratching their nose more than normal. At first, it seemed like it was only an itch, but now your little one is constantly touching their nose. Is this another quirky baby stage to get through, or something more concerning?

If you have seen your tot grabbing at their nose and getting whiny, there are a few things to check out and then try to get them back to a happy baby. An itchy nose outside could mean something needs a deeper look inside. Let's see what your baby's extra interest in their nose could really be about.

Read more
Can pregnant women eat shrimp? What you need to know
How to safely eat shrimp during pregnancy
Pregnant woman on a bed

There are a lot of rules about what pregnant women should and shouldn't eat, so it's not surprising that many wonder if pregnant women can eat shrimp. After all, there are concerns about many different foods and varieties of seafood that aren't safe for pregnant women to consume, but is shrimp included in that list?

Can pregnant women eat shrimp?
You've probably heard warnings against pregnant women eating certain seafood while pregnant, including seafood high in mercury content like fresh tuna, swordfish, and shark. Fortunately, seafood like shrimp contains only low levels of mercury, making it safe for pregnant women to eat. Although shrimp is considered safe for pregnant women to eat, the FDA suggests that they limit how much seafood they eat weekly. A general guideline is no more than 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week.

Read more