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Baby Care: Your Baby at 6 Months Old

Feb 24, 2022 | 3 Minutes Read

Half a year has gone by already since you had your baby. Even though you want to make the most of each day, you probably feel too busy sometimes to even reflect on just how much your little one has grown. Try to make time to enjoy your baby and become immersed in them. It is through these quiet, unhurried times that you will be giving your baby some of the most valuable nurturing they will ever receive.

This is the perfect age to buckle your baby in their stroller and go outside. Take them out for walks and talk to them about what you see. Try not to limit their exposure to the world and be positive about what you are doing. You are your baby’s earliest and most important teacher and from you, they will learn that the world is generally a good and safe place to be.

Feeding and sleeping at 6 months old

At 6 months, most babies are ready to be introduced to solid foods. Some babies are ready before 6 months and have been munching on solids already. But by 6 months, the iron stores which were kept away when they were still in the uterus have been used up and they need to be replenished. Breast milk is low in iron. That’s why one of the first solid foods offered to babies is iron- fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption and many babies like the taste and texture of pureed fruits which have a lot of vitamin C. Milk still needs to be number one on your baby’s dietary menu for now, so offer them their milk feeds first before solids. Introduce one food at a time to see if your baby might have a problem such as a food allergy. Introduce new foods every 3 to 5 days.

Your baby still needs 3 daytime naps of 1 to 3 hours and up to 10 hours sleep overnight. This may seem like an awful lot, especially if your little one isn’t too enthusiastic about sleep. Try to settle them using the same routine and techniques during the day as you do at night. When parents develop a consistent and calming bedtime routine, babies will relax and know that bedtime or nap time is approaching. These early routines can go a long way towards promoting effective sleep habits for years to come.

Behavior at 6 months old 

Your baby will learn to blow raspberries this month. Some will even grab their parents’ face and suck on their noses or cheeks. This is a strong oral phase when your baby will learn a lot about the world through their mouth. Try not to be too fanatical when it comes to cleanliness or stopping your baby from placing everything in their mouth. Now that your baby is eating solid foods, they will be exposed to all sorts of substances which are not sterile or always as clean as they could be.

Read to your baby every day. Watch them as you show them bright pictures and point out familiar scenes to them. Don’t be too critical of yourself when it comes to chatting to your baby—they won’t be.

When you laugh, they will laugh back. You’ll know the little games they like to play and will see them almost anticipate the next step in a game sequence. But your baby’s tolerance for games and interaction will still be short and they will tell you when they have had enough. Breaking their gaze, looking away, becoming irritable, and crying are all signs that it is time to stop and have a change of scenery. Knowing when to stop is as important as initiating a game. Try to be sensitive to your baby’s cues or signals. Being responsive to them will be your baby’s first lesson in how they can develop their own empathy when it comes to relating to other people.

Developmental milestones at 6 months old

Your baby should be able to support their weight on their legs for a short while, though you will have to hold their hands firmly while they do this. Learning to balance takes lots of time and practice. Watch the concentration on your baby’s face as they try to get it right. This is the month when many babies start to sit on their own but only for short periods. They will tend to topple forwards or sideways so you will have to watch them closely. If your baby isn’t showing any interest in sitting, don’t force them. Some babies don’t sit independently until they have learned to crawl, at around 8 to 9 months of age.

Teeth may make an appearance this month so look at your baby’s gums and see if you can see any change in them. The first teeth to erupt are usually the bottom central incisors. Once your baby has a tooth or two, make a point of cleaning them with a toothbrush and a tiny amount (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste every day.

Your baby is learning quickly that those projections at the end of their hands are actually under their control. Their fine-motor pincer grasp still won’t have developed so you will see them “rake” objects into the palm of their hands. Your baby will use both hands equally at this age and it won’t be until they are in their pre-school years that their individual hand dominance will be obvious.

Growth at 6 months old

Your baby will have doubled their birth weight by now unless they were premature or have had problems with their weight gain. Your baby’s head will still be large in relation to the rest of their body, but they will be looking more in proportion than they did after birth. If you notice your baby’s head is flattened at the back, make a point of mentioning this to your pediatric healthcare provider. Changing your baby’s position in their crib, ensuring they have tummy time each day, and preventing them from lying in the same position for long periods can make a big difference.

Keeping well at 6 months old

This month your baby will be due for their third round of vaccinations. Try to have a relatively quiet, uneventful day after your baby has been vaccinated. Although side effects are uncommon, some babies can still be a little unhappy and fussy afterwards.

Many babies have their first cold at around 6 months, much to their parent’s disappointment. It can be scary when your baby gets sick for the first time and seeking reassurance from a healthcare provider is common. Always trust your gut feeling when it comes to having your baby checked. Even though they may seem fine, if you just have a sense that something is not right, this alone can be reason for them to be looked at. A change in feeding, an elevated temperature, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, or general change in their behavior can all be signs that something is not right.

Play and interaction at 6 months old

Join a playgroup or baby gym class if you are up for it. A baby massage group or just a stroller walk with a group can also be great ways to keep up your human contact. Avoid falling into the trap of making every second count when it comes to playing with your baby. They will benefit from some quiet, calm, time alone when they can just chill out as well. If they are happy and don’t need to be fed or comforted, give them the opportunity to just look at their toys and entertain themselves. This is an important, lifelong skill which starts in the early years.

What about mom?

If you are feeling a little bored or unchallenged, try to make a point of reading even if it’s something light. Listening to the radio, subscribing to a magazine, and browsing websites can all help with maintaining connections with the outside world. You may find your focus is so much on your baby at the moment that everything else just takes a back seat. This is fine and healthy, but don’t forget your needs too when it comes to maintaining your own brain pathways.

Your emotions
You may find yourself reflecting on if/when to have another baby. Even though you aren’t likely to be making any firm plans yet, spend some time reflect on the last 6 months and begin talking to your partner. Talk with your obstetrical healthcare provider about ideal timing, preconception care, and any other concerns you might have.

Your sleep needs
If your baby is finally sleeping for a long interval overnight, enjoy the benefits of this yourself. If you still find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open past 8PM, give into your body’s signs that you need to sleep. Some parents experience overwhelming fatigue at this stage and just assume it is from the demands of parenting. But if you still feel exhausted even after getting a reasonable amount of sleep each day, check with your healthcare provider. Thyroid or hormonal imbalance is not uncommon and one of the symptoms is extreme tiredness.

Your relationships
Sometimes one partner can feel left out if they are not the primary caregiver. Make a point of including them in your baby’s care. It’s easy to become so absorbed and immersed in caring for your baby that we can overlook the contribution others can make too. Step back sometimes and try not to always be seen as an expert parent. Babies only benefit from receiving loving care and interaction from lots of people. Although they develop primary, close relationships with their main caregivers, there is a lot of truth in the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.”

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.