Baby development and milestones: your 6 month old

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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 he interacts with you, your doctor will recommend month six as the time to start solid food.

With these big changes, the sixth month means major bonding time with your baby. At this stage, he will be more aware of his surroundings and more perceptive of your reactions to his behaviour. Expect lots of laughs together as he works hard to get your attention!

6 Month old development and milestones: Is your baby on track? 

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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 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 him to start crawling.

But don't worry if your baby bypasses traditional crawling. Some 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 her mouth, sit up straight without the support, when standing, loves to bounce up and down, and lift her body up while on her tummy as if she is doing yoga!

Tips 

  • 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 pulling the manoeuvre.
  • Giving them 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 her will encourage her to try and crawl towards it.
  • Double check all of your baby proofing. Now that your little one is becoming more mobile, it becomes of paramount importance that safety devices are installed on all doors, cabinets and windows.
  • All bookshelves should be anchored to the wall, babies love to use these as leverage to help them stand up.

When to speak to the doctor

If your baby: 

  • Does not roll to either side
  • Does not try to reach out for things within his reach
  • Seems stiff with tensed muscles or very floppy
  • Has difficulty getting things to his mouth

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Cognitive Development

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 6 months old. They love to touch different textures like soft, furry, coarse or scratchy. Pick up some tactile books for some giggle-inducing bonding time! She 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!

Tips 

  • During the day, try and keep him in a clean, well-illuminated room. Surround him with a few toys and let him try and reach them.
  • Take him out for walks and remember to attach mobile toys to the stroller for extra sensory stimulation. 
  • Put clean soft things like teething rings within her grasp to encourage him to put it in his mouth. At the same time, keep things like keys and coins that are obvious choking hazards away from his grasp. 

When to speak to the doctor

If your baby: 

  • Is not responding to your sounds, or following you across the room. 

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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 her.

One of your baby’s new favourite hobbies will be playing with your face, and in general, constantly be trying to get your attention. Watch for lots of wiggling around, babbling and being silly, just to get a reaction from you.

Tips for parents

  • 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 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 speak to a doctor

If your baby: 

  • Is not interested in his surroundings at all, nor responds to his caregiver

 

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Speech and Language

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". 

She feels as if she is communicating very eloquently with her long strings of babble and giggling so be sure to encourage her by responding!

Tips 

  • You can nod along as she talks or point to the things she is looking at and name them which will help develop 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 her. It may feel silly talking out loud while doing household chores, but all those words and sounds are getting stored in her brain for the future.
  • Talk in normal tones, avoid 'babiese'. 
  • Use normal words instead of making up words for common things like 'milk' or 'toy'.

When to speak to a doctor

If your baby:

  • Cannot make vowel sounds like 'aa', 'oh' 'eh' 

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Health and Nutrition

At this stage, your six month old baby will be ready to start weaning. Start with a mix of solid foods mixed with breastmilk and move on to fruits and vegetables.

By this age, your baby would weigh around 7.1 to 8.8 kgs and would measure about 61 to 69.8 cms in height. However, if your child has always been small, but otherwise doing well, do not worry!

This month, your baby would receive her third dose of 6 in 1 vaccine and her second dose of PCV. Be sure to remember this and speak to your baby's paediatrician about it. 

Tips

  • 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.
  • But don’t assume your baby is allergic just because she doesn’t like something. Babies are picky! Trying a new food a few times will help her get used to the 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 3 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 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 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.

When to speak to 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

Your baby’s next month: Seven months

Your baby’s previous month: Five months

Sources: WebMD