Breastfeeding the nine-month-old

What should I expect when my baby is nine months old?

At nine months, the feeds are variable but are usually shorter during the day and longer at night. Mothers with a large milk supply may find that their babies breastfeed a little more often, faster, and are less likely to take the second side. The choking and tummy pain will have settled. Babies at this age should be given solid foods from all the food groups, but milk is still the main part of their diet. They still need to be breastfed to sleep. Breastfeeding will also calm the baby, cure thirst, and limit pain. Mother should continue to breastfeed whenever the baby asks to do so. 

A) Breastfeeding the nine-month-old baby

Table: Typical Breastfeeding Patterns at Nine Months of Age

(Links to more information about the topics in the above table: large milk supply; length of time on the breast; amount of time from the start of one feed to the start of the next; one or both breasts.)

1) Breastfeeding patterns

At nine months, babies feed much like six-month-olds. The feeds are very variable but are generally shorter during the day and longer when the baby is sleepy or at night.

 2) Nutrition and growth

Breast milk remains the main source of nutrition for the first year of age. At family mealtimes, babies will eat solid foods from all the food groups.

They are on their way to tripling their birth weight.  

 3) Behaviour at the breast

Babies are very easily distracted and want to interact with their mothers. They look around and play while breastfeeding.

Babies rarely choke while breastfeeding.

B) Behaviour patterns

1) Gut symptoms

The tummy cramps caused by the gastrocolic reflex will have settled and most babies no longer spit at this age.

2) Fussy behaviour

Babies at nine months are awake a fair amount. They will breastfeed to sleep. Regular night-time waking is normal in some babies.

The baby is becoming more mobile, learning to crawl, bum shuffle, roll, stomach slither, and even walk. Breastfeeding is the easiest way to calm the baby. It solves many problems, including hunger, thirst, pain, sadness, boredom, and needing to get to sleep. That’s why the feeding patterns are so variable. So when your baby asks to breastfeed, go ahead!

C) Changes in the mother

The breasts rarely feel full and the milk will have a blue tinge.

Some mothers misinterpret the shorter daytime feeds, the increasing distractibility at the breast, and the more frequent nighttime waking (see below) as signs the baby is getting ready to wean. These are normal changes and are not a sign of weaning. Babies don’t usually wean on their own before one year of age unless the mother is often separated from the baby or her milk supply is very low.