As you've watched your baby grow through her first nine months, you've probably discovered that she doesn't always do things by the book. She may develop some skills ahead of schedule while others lag behind. Now's a good time to remind yourself that she's working at her own pace. It's fun and helpful to know what to expect from month to month -- just be ready to be surprised.
For most babies, the 10th month is a time to fine-tune skills. You probably won't see any major breakthroughs. She's already learned to crawl and cruise, but she's not quite ready to walk on her own. Still, all of the baby-watchers in the house will have plenty of chances to be amazed and entertained.
Watch how confidently she cruises along the furniture. She's moving with ease, and she can finally sit down by herself. If you hold her hands while she's standing, she might take a few steps. She's definitely a baby on the go.
It may seem like she'd enjoy a walker at this age, but she'd be better off without one. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, walkers can actually delay a baby's first steps. Walkers don't strengthen the muscles needed for walking, and they take away a baby's motivation to learn to walk. But the real problem is that walkers can be extremely dangerous. They can easily tip over or roll down stairs. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics "strongly urges parents not to use baby walkers."
Some babies at this age decide to take up climbing as a hobby. Chairs and couches are favorite climbing places, but they aren't quite as exciting as the stairs. You can help your baby learn to climb stairs by putting the baby gate on the third step. Just be sure someone's by her side to supervise her every move. When practice time is over, put the gate back at the bottom and double-check to make sure the gate is securely in place.
Now that she's gaining control over her fingers, she can carry more than one thing in each hand. Watch her when she grabs for toys. For the first time, she might start favoring one hand over the other.
With her busy hands and busy mind, she's at the perfect age to play a classic game of "pull things out of a drawer and make a huge mess." This probably won't be your favorite game at first, but you just might learn to love it. If you can give her a drawer that's just for her and fill it with interesting, safe objects, you can enjoy some time to yourself while she happily goes about her business.
Mealtime offers another chance for your baby to work on her dexterity. Try giving her a spoon and a small bowl of applesauce or pudding. She's bound to make a mess, but it's good training. When it comes to actually getting food in her mouth, she'll have much more success with finger foods such as O-shaped cereal and small, shredded pieces of tender meat.
She may not be making any major breakthroughs this month, but she's still getting stronger, smarter, and more coordinated every day. And whether she's going by the book or following her own schedule, both of you are bound to enjoy her progress.
Sears, William and Martha. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two. 2003. Little, Brown and Company.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five. 2009. Bantam Books.
University of Wisconsin Extension. Parenting the first year: month 9-10. 2005. http://racine.uwex.edu/flp/documents/PFY9-10.pdf
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Baby Bouncer. Tenth month: budding independence. September 2000. http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/PDF/CHFD-E-39-10.pdf