Baby Development And Milestones: Your 6-month-old
You won't believe what your baby can do at just six months old! She will be chattier, more active and even sleep all night.
Wow! Can you believe that you’ve reached half a year with your little bundle of joy? I 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 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 what some of these developments are, keeping in mind that every baby will hit major milestones at his/her own pace. If you are worried about any aspect of development, you should speak to a paediatrician without delay.
6 Month Old Development and Milestones: Is Your Baby on Track?
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 on 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're getting from one place to another, there's nothing to worry about.
By this age, your baby would be able to grasp something and bring it to his/her mouth, sit up straight without support, when standing loves to bounce up and down, and lifts his/her body up while on his.her tummy as if he/she is 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)
- When your 6 month old baby rolls over onto his/her tummy, be obvious about how excited you are! Seeing this reaction will encourage your baby to keep practicing this cool move!
- Giving babies of this age toys 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 making your baby’s arms, legs, neck and back muscles stronger.
- Stackable toys are excellent for developing hand-eye coordination. Even just placing your baby’s favourite toy a short distance from him/her 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.
When to See a Doctor:
If your baby:
- Does not roll to either side.
- Does not try to reach out for things within his/her reach.
- Seems stiff with tensed muscles or very floppy.
- Has difficulty getting things to his/her 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. He/she loves to touch different 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, and this is 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 for them – watch out for your earrings!
- During the day, try and keep baby in a clean, well-illuminated room. Surround your baby with a few toys and let him/her try and reach them.
- Take 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 baby's grasp. At the same time, keep items like keys and coins that are obvious choking hazards away from baby's grasp.
When to See 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, just to get a reaction from you.
- This is a good time for follow-the-leader style games.
- A fun game is mimicking the sounds your little one is making at first, and then introducing animal sounds for him/her to mimic.
- You can use this time to help with language development as well by showing pictures of each animal and saying its name as well as making the sounds together.
When to See a Doctor:
- If your baby is not interested in his/her surroundings at all, nor responds to caregivers.
Speech and Language Development
Get the camera out! At 6 month 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 he/she is communicating very eloquently with long strings of babble and giggling so be sure to encourage your baby by responding!
- You can nod along as your baby talks or point to the things he/she is looking at and name them, which will help develop his/her language skills.
- Another way to help your little one’s language skills is by talking through things that you’re doing in front of him/her. It may feel silly talking out loud while doing household chores, but all those words and sounds are getting stored in his/her 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".
When to See a Doctor:
- 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 to start with, with milk still being his/her main meal this month. After each meal, you can either offer some milk or a tiny quantity of water.
Typically, the calorie intake for boys and girls of this age are as follows:
- Boys: 661.8 Kcal/day
- Girls: 605.7 Kcal/day
At six months old, your 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 white rice, and start early with wholegrain carbohydrate options.
Your child should drink a minimum of 700 to 1000mL of breastmilk or formula through the day.
In a nutshell, here’s what you 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
- Introduce new foods one at a time with a few days in between each in order to monitor for any kind of allergic reactions such as rash, diarrhoea or vomiting.
- Don’t assume your baby is allergic just because he/she doesn’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 to start with 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 he/she is 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 solids introduction, it's okay to introduce some water after you feed him/her solids. Again, a couple of teaspoons will do. Else, nurse him 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, but some foods including honey and cow’s milk should be avoided for another six months.
Vaccinations and Common Illnesses
This month, your baby would receive his/her third dose of 6 in 1 vaccine and the second dose of PCV. Be sure to 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, his/her immune system is much better equipped than a few months ago to deal with it. Still, you need to be watchful and make sure it doesn't develop into something worse.
If your baby gets fever, consult with a paediatrician first before giving fever medication. You can sponge baby's forehead, armpits and groin area to help bring the temperature down. Another common illness your little one might contract is Hand Foot and Mouth disease. A trip to the doctor is needed to find out proper treatment methods. Meanwhile, saline drops (bought from any pharmacy) can help ease a congested nose.
Never give medication to your baby unless it is prescribed by a paediatrician. Home remedies should be avoided for now.
- Allow your baby to breastfeed more when sick.
- Don't be alarmed if baby refuses all solid food when sick. Just make sure he/she gets a good fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
- Check your baby's vaccination schedule early so that you can plan.
When to See a Doctor:
If your baby:
- Experiences a sudden weight loss.
- Does not follow previous height and weight percentiles.
- Breaks out in a nasty rash after eating a new food.
- Has diarrhea or vomiting for more than a day.
*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