Wow! Can you believe you’ve reached half a year with your little bundle of joy? We know what you’re thinking – where has the time gone? You now have a 6 month old baby!
Six months is a major stage for you and your little one. Besides seeing a dramatic change in how the baby interacts with you, your doctor will recommend month six as the time to start solid food.
With these big changes, the sixth month heralds much to look forward to in your baby’s development. Let’s find out some of these developments, keeping in mind that every baby will hit major milestones at their own pace. If you are worried about any development aspect, you should speak to a paediatrician without delay.
6 Month Old Development and Milestones: Is Your Baby on Track?
6 Month Old Baby: Physical Development
You’ll love watching your 6 month old little one start on the journey towards walking during this month when many babies start rolling over from their back to their tummy and back.
Some 6 month old babies learn very quickly to roll back and forth, while others may get stuck in their tummies initially and become upset. With all this rolling around, you’ll be relieved to hear that most babies sleep from six to eight hours through the night at this age.
This is also the month you can expect your baby to start crawling.
But don’t worry if your baby bypasses traditional crawling. Some babies scoot on their bums, drag one foot or creep along the floor like a caterpillar. As long as they get from one place to another, there’s nothing to worry about.
By this age, your baby will be able to grasp something and bring it to their mouth, sit up straight without support when standing, loves to bounce up and down, and lift their body while on their tummy as if they are doing yoga!
At this stage, your child’s median length and weight* should be as follows:
– Length: 67.6 cm (26.6 inches)
– Weight: 7.9 kg (17.5 lb)
– Length: 65.7 cm (25.9 inches)
– Weight: 7.3 kg (16.1 lb)
And your child’s head circumference* should be:
- Boys: 43.3 cm (17.1 inches)
- Girls: 42.2 cm (16.6 inches)
How to support your 6 month old’s physical development
- When your 6 month old baby rolls over onto their tummy, be obvious about how excited you are! Seeing this reaction will encourage your baby to keep practising this cool move!
- Giving toys to your babies at this age while they are on their tummy will also help them get used to the new feeling. This also means that you need to keep an even closer eye on them when they’re on raised surfaces! During diaper change time, you may want to put the mat on the floor where there’s less of a rollaway risk.
- Encouraging tummy time during the day is essential for strengthening your baby’s arms, legs, neck and back muscles.
- Stackable toys are excellent for developing hand-eye coordination. Even placing your baby’s favourite toy a short distance from them will encourage your baby to try and crawl towards it.
- Double-check all your baby proofing. Now that your little one is becoming more mobile, it is of paramount importance that safety devices are installed on all doors, cabinets and windows.
- All bookshelves should be anchored to the wall, and babies love to use these as leverage to help them stand up. An un-anchored bookshelf or cupboard is a safety hazard.
Consult a doctor if your baby:
- Does not roll to either side.
- Does not try to reach out for things within their reach.
- Seems stiff with tensed muscles or very floppy.
- Has difficulty getting things to their mouth.
By this stage, your baby will have noticed patterns in familiar songs and nursery rhymes and be able to anticipate what will happen next.
You’ll notice an overall increase in your 6 month old baby’s sense perception at this stage. They love to touch textures like soft, furry, coarse or scratchy. Pick up some tactile books for some giggle-inducing bonding time! Your baby will start passing things from one hand to another, a huge milestone!
Sight perception will also improve, and you’ll see that your baby has become very attracted to shiny and colourful things and likes to grab them – watch out for your earrings!
How to promote your 6-month-old’s brain development
- During the day, keep the baby in a clean, well-illuminated room. Surround your baby with a few toys and let them try and reach them.
- Take the baby out for walks, and remember to attach mobile toys to the stroller for extra sensory stimulation.
- Put clean, soft items like teething rings within the baby’s grasp. At the same time, keep items like keys and coins that are obvious choking hazards away from the baby’s grasp.
Consult a doctor if your baby:
- Is not responding to your sounds or following you across the room.
Social and Emotional Development
Your 6 month old baby will be more excited about interacting with familiar people around her, especially mum and dad and conversely, may show signs of fear when strange people approach.
One of your baby’s new favourite hobbies will be playing with your face, and in general, will constantly try to get your attention. Watch for lots of wiggling around, babbling and being silly, to get a reaction from you.
How to nurture your 6 month old’s emotional development
- This is a good time for follow-the-leader-style games.
- A fun game is mimicking the sounds your little one is making first and then introducing animal sounds for them to mimic.
- You can also use this time to help with language development by showing pictures of each animal, saying its name, and making the sounds together.
Consult a doctor if your baby:
- If your baby is not interested in their surroundings or responds to caregivers.
Speech and Language Development
Get the camera out! At 6 months old, your baby will love repeating individual syllables, and you might even hear a “ma-ma” and “da-da” at some point. Other babies can mimic animal sounds like “woof woof” or “baa baa”.
Baby proudly feels as if they are communicating very eloquently with long strings of babble and giggling, so be sure to encourage your baby by responding!
How to encourage your 6 month old’s speech and language development
- You can nod along as your baby talks or point to the things they are looking at and name them, which will help develop their language skills.
- Another way to help your little one’s language skills is by talking through things you’re doing in front of them. It may feel silly talking out loud while doing household chores, but all those words and sounds are stored in their brain for the future.
- Talk in normal tones, avoid “babiese”.
- Use normal words instead of making up words for common items like “milk” or “toy”.
Consult a doctor if your baby:
- If your baby cannot make vowel sounds like “aa”, “oh”, “eh”.
Health and Nutrition
How exciting! Your 6 month old baby is now ready for solids. Don’t roll out a six-course menu just yet, though. Your baby only needs very small quantities of solids, with milk still their main meal this month. After each meal, you can offer some milk or a tiny amount of water.
Typically, the calorie intake for boys and girls of this age is as follows:
- Boys: 661.8 Kcal/day
- Girls: 605.7 Kcal/day
Your 6 month old baby only needs one to three small meals a day, with just one to three tablespoons of food required at each meal. Your baby’s daily nutrition should be composed of the following elements:
One serving equals one to three tablespoons of lean meat, chicken, or fish, four to five tablespoons of dry beans and peas, or one egg (in total 17.5g of protein)
Your child needs about 1/4 cup of fruits every day. 1/4 cup of fruit equals 1/4 of fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, 1/8 cup dried fruit, or 1/4 of a medium-sized avocado.
At this stage, your child requires 1/4 cups (25g each) of vegetables every day. 1/4 cup of vegetables equals 1/4 cup of cooked mixed vegetables, half a cup of raw leafy greens, 1/4 large tomato, or 1/4 of a medium zucchini.
Introduce up to 1 ounce of grains daily in your child’s meals. One ounce of grains equals one slice of wholemeal bread, one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or half (1/2) cup of cooked pasta or rice.
Limit white bread and rice, and start early with whole-grain carbohydrate options.
Your child should drink a minimum of 700 to 1000mL of breast milk or formula throughout the day.
In a nutshell, here’s what your child needs every day (refer above for what the amounts look like):
- Fruits: 1/4 for boys; 1/4 cups for girls
- Vegetables: 1/4 cups for boys; 1/4 cups for girls
- Grains: up to 1 ounce for boys; up to 1 ounce for girls
- Proteins: 17.5g for boys; 17.5g for girls
- Milk: 25 ounces for boys; 25 ounces for girls
- Water: 800 ml for boys; 800 ml for girls
How to support your 6 month old baby’s nutrition:
- Introduce new foods one at a time with a few days between each to monitor for allergic reactions such as rash, diarrhoea or vomiting.
- Don’t assume your baby is allergic just because they don’t like something. Babies are picky! Trying a new food a few times will help your baby get used to exciting new tastes and flavours.
- Some great first foods are avocado, banana, papaya and sweet potato. If needed, thin down pureed or mashed fruit and vegetable with breastmilk.
- If you want to avoid purees, try baby-led weaning.
- Remember that milk remains your baby’s primary source of nutrients for the next few months, so don’t worry about feeding your baby three solid meals from the get-go. A teaspoon of solids to start with is more than enough.
- Don’t introduce solids to your baby when they are sleepy or hungry. The best time is between feeds and after a nap.
- Continue breastfeeding, and if you feel your baby’s stools have hardened a lot after the introduction of solids, it’s okay to introduce some water after you feed them. Again, a couple of teaspoons will do. Else, nurse them after a meal.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that there’s no link between allergies and giving babies eggs or fish after six months. Still, some foods, including honey and cow’s milk, should be avoided for another six months.
Image Source: iStock
Vaccinations and Common Illnesses
This month, your baby will receive their third dose of the 6-in-1 vaccine and the second dose of PCV. Remember this and speak to your baby’s paediatrician about it. To read more about your baby’s vaccinations, click here.
If your baby gets a common illness like a cold now, their immune system is much better equipped to deal with it than a few months ago. Still, you must be watchful and ensure it doesn’t develop into something worse.
If your baby gets a fever, consult a paediatrician before giving fever medication. You can sponge the baby’s forehead, armpits and groin area to help decrease the temperature. Another common illness your little one might contract is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. A trip to the doctor is needed to find the proper treatment methods. Meanwhile, saline drops (bought from any pharmacy) can help ease a congested nose.
Never give medication to your baby unless a paediatrician prescribes it. Home remedies should be avoided for now.
- Allow your baby to breastfeed more when sick.
- Don’t be alarmed if the baby refuses all solid food when sick. Make sure they get a good fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
- Check your baby’s vaccination schedule early so that you can plan.
Consult a doctor if your baby:
- Experiences a sudden weight loss.
- Does not follow the previous height and weight percentiles.
- Breaks out in a nasty rash after eating new food.
- Has diarrhoea or vomiting for more than a day.
Feeding Schedule for 6 Month Old
At 6 months, your baby is ready for more than just breast milk.
The first step to feeding your 6-month-old is to introduce solid foods. You can start by giving him just 2 or 3 spoonfuls of soft food four times a day. Avoid giving him any hard foods, like crunchy vegetables and fruits (like carrots), until he’s at least 8 months old.
Your baby will likely be ready to eat solids at about 6 months, but it’s important to watch his cues and only offer things when he seems interested. If he turns his head away from the spoon or starts to fuss, take it away and try again later—but don’t force the issue!
Some babies are born ready to eat solids; others need more time to prepare their digestive systems for this new challenge. Listen carefully for signs that your child is ready: He might be able to sit up without support, turn his head from side to side without help from your hands, or even show an interest in what you’re eating!
If you’re concerned about whether your baby is ready for solids yet, ask your doctor before introducing new foods into his diet.
Image Source: Shutterstock
*Disclaimer: This is the median length and weight, and head circumference according to WHO standards.
Your baby’s next month: Baby development and milestones: your 7-month-old
Your baby’s previous month: Baby development and milestones: your 5-month-old
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
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