Tell Me Baby > Articles > Baby > Baby play & development > How to play with your 9 to 12-month-old baby
Baby play & development Play at Any Age

How to play with your 9 to 12-month-old baby

Share it

This is part 4 of our Play at Any Stage series with Fisher-Price. See other age groups, from birth to 12 months, here.

Your baby is growing up so fast and is now most likely a curious little bean, reaching for objects and exploring the world around them.

This is only going to continue as your baby becomes more mobile. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

The important thing to remember at this stage is that babies all develop at such different rates. “Don’t stress about comparing and looking at different babies and what they can do,” says Lauren Celenza, child development specialist and researcher at the Fisher-Price Play Lab. “If you have concerns, definitely talk to your paediatrician, but you’re going to see so much variety in development here.”

Watch our full chat with Lauren Celenza – with play and development advice for babies from 0 to 12 months – on Facebook.

Playing with your 9 to 12-month-old

Language is developing at a rapid pace. Amongst the babbling, you’ll start to notice your baby forming words, like ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. They might also understand things like hello and goodbye and toys. 

Baby is also on the move! They can change positions more easily and some might even be crawling around. If your baby isn’t crawling, they have other means of getting around: sliding on their bum, belly scooting and rolling! 

“You may see some crawling, some scooting, some pulling to stand,” says Lauren. “They will be trying to get around on different types of furniture and moving around, and you may even see some walkers as you near that 12-month age.”

This is when you can introduce fun activities that will encourage standing and walking through play such as walkers and learning tables. “Anything that they can pull up on,” says Lauren.

Technology and your baby

Your baby will feel the pull of technology as much as adults do. The bright lights and changing colours are very appealing to a baby. That said, it’s recommended that children under two have zero screen time. Unless it means helping your baby to chat and bond with family members far away or in lockdown.

In fact, Lauren says that Facetime can be a great way for babies to bond. “Find a friend or someone with a baby that’s either older, younger, just a similar age range and they can interact,” says Lauren. “That will never not be fun for them.”

We often feel the pressure of technology when it comes to our little ones. However, Lauren can see the advantage of incorporating screen time into your child’s play, especially when you co-view and share the experience with them. “You can sit down together and enjoy a video or enjoy an app or enjoy something that’s geared for your children.” says Lauren. “I think it’s a great starting point to have conversations and really build those language skills and there are so many great screen experiences and visual experiences/where kids can learn.”

The other thing is that often when kids watch television they are not just sitting looking at the screen. “A lot of them are getting up and moving around and dancing, they’re being physically stimulated,” says Lauren. “Singing is emotional and cognitive and dancing is physical – everything has a balance.”

Milestones to look out for

While every baby is so different, there are some milestones to look out for around this age.

  • Social and emotional milestones: enjoys games like hide and seek and peek-a-boo.
  • Physical milestones: crawls, cruises along furniture, turns the pages of a book, may start pulling up on furniture. 
  • Cognitive milestones: points to named objects and understands simple commands. 

Play ideas, games and toys for your 9 to 12 month-old-baby

  • Encourage crawling and moving: pop a favourite toy just out of reach and encourage baby to move forward to grab it. 
  • Fisher-Price Stack & Explore Blocks: take it in turns stacking these blocks and knocking them down. They’ll learn about cause and effect (and have lots of fun doing it a million times!).
  • Play with food: playing with food has many benefits, including developing fine and gross motor skills but also their senses. Babies who play with food are more likely to eat it too!
  • Peek-a-boo: keep going with games like peek-a boo and hide and seek. Switch it up and hide your face under a blanket and let them pull it off or hide around a corner and let them find you.
  • Socialising: Encourage short but frequent bursts of social interaction with other children in the same age range 
  • Encourage walking: introduce toys such as walkers or activity tables, where babies can be stimulated but also practise pulling themselves up
  • Action songs: think songs like Incy Wincy Spider and This Little Piggy.
  • Talk! Keep up the chatter, the books, songs and singing. All of this helps your little one learn and understand new words. If bub is babbling at you, make sure you reply.

Speak with your GP or child and family health nurse if you’re concerned about baby development or you need support.

Featured recommendations

Get stories like this and exclusive offers delivered to your inbox.

Earn gift cards for your opinions

Review baby products to earn Coles, Kmart and Target gift cards. It's so easy!