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Is it normal for a 9-month-old to just sit and observe siblings play?
Q: My almost 9-month-old son seems perfectly content just sitting and watching his four older siblings play (ages 15, 13, 9, 7). He shows no desire to try to crawl to play with them, but seems to be just “taking it all in” and studying the situation. When my other children were this age, they were crawling or “cruising” and getting into everything. We try to encourage him to play by giving him toys and stuffed animals, but he just watches everything going on around him. It is like he's analyzing the situation. Is this normal for a child this age?
A: This is normal: babies have internal mechanisms to shield them from over-stimulation. Sometimes your 9-month-old son might get overwhelmed when he is in the midst of all the activity and be very content to observe what is going on around him. He probably feels he is part of the action just by watching it. Observing is often just as enjoyable as being part of the action, similar to when you watch an exciting movie or a sporting event, especially when there is a lot of action.

You might notice that when your 9-month-old son has time to play by himself, without all of the activity of his older siblings going on around him, he will have more confidence in his abilities and more of an interest in his toys. He might even crawl to get to his toys or pull himself up to standing and “cruise” around holding onto furniture. Encourage your older children to take turns playing with their baby brother one-on-one every once in a while, so they can get to know him better and learn more about what he finds interesting. He’ll get to know them better, too, and form a bond. I’m sure you’ll find that eventually your little one will blend in, join the action, and soon be the center of attention. Be sure to remind your older children to keep their own toys out of reach of their baby brother, especially things with small parts or elements that are not appropriate or safe for him.