9 - 12 Months


Infants and toddlers are holistic learners, which means that although one activity may primarily target one developmental area, all domains are “at play.” When you are targeting motor development, your presence and connection with your baby also inevitably target social/emotional development, your words develop your child’s communication, and the concepts you discuss and problem-solving your baby is doing develop cognition. The more you interact with your baby, the more your baby learns!

These activities are all meant to be interactive, and should be supervised by a fully present adult.


developmental domains


+ Cognition

Your baby is starting to understand certain aspects of spatial relationships between objects, and is also beginning to detect differences between sets of small numbers of objects. Both of these skills are the starting points for what eventually becomes mathematical learning.

Offer play materials that support your baby's understanding of spatial relationships, and narrate how you or your baby is relating objects to one another.

+ Communication

Gestures are understood to be important indicators of spoken language learning, and typically start to enter your baby's repertoire of "non-verbal" communication abilities around the age of 9 months (this often happens earlier or later)!

In addition to ensuring that you're modeling plenty of gestures in your everyday life, try using a (consistent) gesture to accompany certain frequently used words (actions, people, attributes, greetings, etc.)

+ Motor / Sensory

Some of the best exercises are those that "strengthen our core," or those muscles within the tummy, back and pelvis. They allow us to balance, coordinate movement, sit up straight, and more.

Much of a baby’s everyday movements are naturally core-strengthening, but creating opportunities to encourage rolling, lifting/picking up objects, pushing or pulling is wonderful for a baby starting to sit, crawl, & walk.

+ Social / Emotional

Babies learn about identity within the context of those around them. As humans, we are social & are born ready to take in information from others. Babies learn what it is to "be human" within the context of their families and primary caregivers.

Play games to help your baby understand with her various senses that she is her own person, separate from you, and that she comes from within a particular culture with specific values.


bring this information to life


+ Musical Experiences

  • Listen with your baby to music that formed your identity - your cultural background, your favorite genre, or songs with which you grew up.
  • Substitute words in a familiar song with words for play materials (e.g., toy animals are passengers on “wheels on the bus”)
  • Pause at the end of a song’s phrase, looking expectantly at your baby before completing the phrase.

+ Literacy Experiences

  • Open a book to a page that interests your baby. Instead of reading what’s on the page, either remain silent or label its action.
  • Point out symbols in your community, and comment on what they mean (“exit” sign, “ladies bathroom,” “stop” sign, etc.).
  • Place a preferred book just out of your baby’s reach, to encourage movement and communication.

+ Sensory Experiences

  • Point to objects and make "their sound," or make a sound about what you might do with it (point to or sit on the bed and say anything from "snore!," "ahhhh," "get in," "lay down" or "sleeeep!")
  • Try a new finger food - take the pressure off eating, and use it as an opportunity for “painting!”
  • Fill a baking pan or plastic bin with water - go outside and splash around!

+ Visual Supports

  • Label while pointing to different parts of your baby’s body. Touch her body, then show her the same part of your body - "look, here's your nose, and here's my nose!"
  • Embed photos of loved ones or pictures of animals, children, etc. within her play materials (under a puzzle piece or block, inside a box or sock)
  • Play peek-a-boo!