7–9 months old: Cognitive and linguistic development

7–9 months old: Cognitive and linguistic development

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

Cognitive development refers to the acquisition of skills such as memory, attention, reasoning, and planning. These skills allow children to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours, in addition to helping them store knowledge, solve problems, exercise judgment, and understand the world around them. Cognitive development also includes language development, which is a child’s ability to communicate, make sounds, understand language, and begin to talk.

Cognitive and language development: 7–9months old

Cognitive skills

At this age:

  • Your baby can use both hands at the same time, which allows them to start comparing and categorizing objects. For example, they can distinguish size by lifting a small object with their fingers and a large object with both hands.
  • They understand when objects are close or far away and are aware of the space between them.
  • They can recognize familiar faces from different angles.
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’ll search for an object that’s just been taken away, but only in the place where they first saw it. For example, they’ll look for their rattle on the counter even though the rattle is on the floor.
  • They can focus on the same object as you (e.g., they’ll look at the same book or toy that you’re looking at).
  • They learn the meaning of in and out by dropping large marbles into a bowl, then tipping out the contents and repeating this action several times.
  • They can show that they understand the function of an object they’re looking at. For example, they may shake a noise-making toy, intentionally push the buttons on a toy, or squeeze a rubber toy to make it squeak.

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

  • Seek out an object in the last place they saw it.
  • Improve their memory (e.g., by imitating a sound they heard earlier).
  • Imitate simple actions carried out by the adults around them.

Language skills

At this age:

  • Your baby babbles the same syllable over and over, such as “da-da-da” or “ga-ga-ga.”
  • They consistently respond when someone calls their name.
  • They recognize certain words in familiar situations (e.g., they get excited when they hear milk and know not to do something when they hear no).
  • They use gestures to communicate (e.g., pointing, reaching out their arms).

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

  • Imitate the sound of certain objects and animals (e.g., “choo-choo” for trains and “woof” for dogs).
  • Pay close attention to familiar words and start to recognize them in sentences.
  • React to simple instructions given with gestures, such as “come here” and “sit down.”

How can you help your baby progress?

Each child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your little one’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 baby’s cognitive and language development depending on their age.

When you imitate your baby’s gestures, such as by clapping along with them,
they feel that their actions are important and may continue doing them to make you respond.
When you help your baby calm down when they’re upset,
they start to wait their turn and become better at self-soothing and calming themselves.
When you name what your little one wants using simple words (e.g., “You want milk”),
your baby may recognize the word and feel understood.
When you play with your baby, repeating simple actions like shaking a toy or giving a kiss,
they learn to observe and repeat gestures, and that they can get an adult to follow suit.
When you add your baby’s name to familiar songs (e.g., “Put it in the oven for Danny and me” instead of “baby and me”),
they may respond happily upon hearing their own name.
When you use gestures that your baby understands, such as by giving a thumbs-up or waving goodbye,
they are delighted and may want to imitate you.
When you give your baby different items to play with in the bath, such as containers of different sizes,
they explore volumes and quantities while enjoying the soothing feeling of being in the water.
When you respond to your baby’s babbling with similar sounds,
they know you’re interested in what they have to say, which makes them want to babble more.
When you name the things your baby looks at and shows interest in,
they slowly develop their vocabulary, even though they can’t talk yet.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Marie-Ève Bergeron-Gaudin, speech-language pathologist, and Noémie Montminy, doctoral student in psychopedagogy at Université Laval.
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: August 2021


Photo: GettyImages/PeopleImages



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