A Journey Through Infant Development: The Ninth Month
It is the dance of life, the basis of human interaction. It’s about moving fluidly through our interactions. It’s not about an outcome, but the process in which we get there. It’s about doing it together. It’s the give and take. It’s the responses given to our actions and/or words. It’s co-regulation. By 9 months of age, a child spends a majority of the day engaged in co-regulation. My son is now 9 months old, and our interactive dance is becoming more fluid as we continue this journey.
You are the joy of our lives, the spark in our day. The joy you bring to our family is indescribable. Unlike when your sisters were babies, we are trying to slow down how fast you are growing. We want you to remain a baby forever, as you are the final baby of the family; and yet you seem to be growing twice as fast as your sisters.
You have so many games that you love to play. You’ll crawl (yes, you are crawling now!) behind a chair, and then peak your head out when you see that I’m looking. I smile, then you smile back and hide again. It’s only a moment later when you slowly peak your head back out, and start to giggle as I give you a funny face.
You are eating more and more foods! You make so many people laugh as you take a bite, and then quickly open your mouth for another bite. You’ll sit there with your mouth open staring at me until I get that spoon filled with more food back to your mouth. It can’t come fast enough! If I stand up to go get something, you scream like you are going to starve. I know you are about done eating when you grab at the spoon as though it’s a toy and not a shoveling device.
If there is a ball around, you will find it. You love playing with balls! I’ll hand it to you, and you’ll throw it back. Sometimes it comes to me, but your hands don’t always throw in the same direction you’re looking. Then as I hold the ball you look at me with anticipation, wondering if and when I’ll throw it back; often times your hands and feet are moving with your excitement. Once I roll it back to you, you smile and scream in delight! If it bounces off you, you’ll race after it. You already know that we both have a responsibility in keeping the ball in play.
Your sisters still love to torment you. They’ll climb in your face, and try to tickle you or tackle you. You are learning to defend yourself by clawing them in the face or pulling their hair. They get upset; but I defend you, and tell them that they deserved it.
There is nothing better than coming home after not seeing you all day. When you see me, you light right up and come crawling to me as fast as you can. If you can’t get to me or I don’t pick you up right away, you’ll sit there and scream until I give you attention. It can be a bit annoying, but I love the attention and the immediate hugs!
The interactive dance of life is established, and relationships are beginning to flourish. Isn’t it amazing how early on in life this begins to happen? This is a topic I discuss early and often with families who have a child with autism: What does co-regulation look like; when is it established; when does it break down; and how is it repaired? Co-regulation is the basis for all human interaction, essential for developing relationships. Watching this form between the parents and children I work with is an amazing experience. What are you doing to initiate this dance?