7–9 months old: Emotional development

7–9 months old: Emotional development

Your baby’s emotional development at 7–9 months old. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Emotional development allows children to understand, express, and manage their emotions as they grow. Children also develop the ability to recognize and interpret the emotions of others, which helps them build relationships with those around them.

Emotional development: 7–9 months old

At this age:

  • Your baby knows what they want and don’t want and can communicate their preferences.
  • They laugh often and with more intent.
  • They realize that they have power over their environment.
Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • They follow you around the house and want to stay near you, and may cry when you leave the room. They’re affectionate with their caregivers.
  • They can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar people. They may become frightened when a stranger approaches or enters the house.
  • Your baby may be fearful of new experiences (e.g., if you change your appearance or behaviour).
  • They may get jealous, becoming upset or less playful if you give another child more attention.
  • They may have a favourite object (e.g., security blanket, stuffed animal) that reminds them of you and comforts them.
  • They may get scared or startled by loud noises, like a popping balloon, vacuum cleaner, or loud voice.
  • Your baby is sensitive to the emotions of those they know. For instance, they may become agitated in your arms if they sense that you’re distressed.

Over the next few months, your baby will begin to do the following:

  • Clearly express how they feel (e.g., love, disinterest) about certain people, objects, and places.
  • Be more sensitive toward other children. For example, they may start to cry when other children are crying.
  • Understand that people who are out of sight continue to exist.

How can you help your baby progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your child’s emotional development.

When you respond to your baby’s cries for help or attention, or when you entrust a familiar person with their care,
your baby feels safe and gradually learns to self-soothe when you’re not around. They understand that they can count on you and that others can provide comfort as well.
When you let your baby play and explore freely, but remain available when they come to you for reassurance or to share their discoveries,
they gradually develop self-confidence, autonomy, and a sense of security.
When you play physical games with your baby, taking the time to calm them down if they get overexcited or distracted,
they learn to calm themselves down after a stimulating activity.
When you play one-on-one with your baby—for example, by showing them their eyes, nose, and mouth in the mirror—
they learn the basics of communication and enjoy these bonding moments with you.
When you talk about your baby’s daily care—for example, by saying, “I need to change your diaper, why don’t you bring your toy along so you can keep playing?”—
they learn that their well-being is important to you.
When you set up a routine (e.g., diaper change, nap time, mealtime, playtime),
your baby learns to anticipate what will happen at different times of the day and feels reassured.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Chloé Gaumont, M.Sc., psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2020


Photo: GettyImages/PeopleImages



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