As your baby hits their 6-month-old baby development milestones, there is, indeed, much to celebrate! They are now at the halfway point to their first birthday.
How Your Baby is Growing
By six months, most babies will have doubled their birth weight! Boys will usually weigh around 13 to 23 pounds, and measure 24 to 29 inches. Meanwhile, girls maybe a pound lighter and an inch shorter.
It may seem like the growth rate has slowed down a bit, but that will change very soon as month 6 is often the time that most babies get introduced to solid food.
As babies become increasingly aware of controlling their bodies, six-month olds will be more physically active. As one of the 6-month-old baby development milestones, your baby by now will be better able to support their weight so they can roll over onto their back or stomach, and sit up even without support. Some babies may even start crawling, or rock back and forth while on all fours. A lot of babies also enjoy standing while being supported, and they may bounce up and down. This bouncing motion helps to strengthen the leg muscles in preparation for walking.
Fine motor skills will start improving as well, as babies begin to lose the grasp reflex they had as infants and become more conscious about the world. They will reach for objects that are out of reach and grasp the ones nearby. They may also learn how to pass objects from one hand to the other.
This newfound interest in touching and holding objects also ties in with eyesight development and better recognition of their environment. Their vision reaches 20/60 to 20/40, so babies will look around more, follow the movement, and attempt to copy the actions they see. They also start to recognize familiar faces and learn to distinguish people. They may either respond with fear and crying when faced with strangers.
One of the more exciting 6-month-old baby development milestones that your baby will hit is their increased awareness and want to communicate. Their increased cognition includes being able to locate and recognize sounds and responding to them with vocalizations. Baby babbling usually involves monosyllabic vowel sounds (“ah” and “eh”) as well as consonant sounds (“m” or “b”). They may also have specific sounds to express emotions like happiness.
Feeding & Nutrition
Breast milk and formula are still the main sources for nutrition, so you may continue to follow the same nursing schedule and food intake. You can slowly start to introduce solid foods to your baby, but remember that they are still adjusting and can take only a few spoonfuls at a time.
Before introducing solid foods, first, check the physical indicators. Your baby is ready if they can keep their head steady, sit upright with support, and swallow.
Babies may initially reject the new food or dribble it out. Continue to give the same food a few more times before moving on to a new one. This helps to familiarize taste buds, as well as easily identify allergens in case of a bad reaction.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages introducing commonly allergenic foods like nuts (made into a soft butter) to help prevent the development of food allergies. If your family has a strong history of food allergies, consult your pediatrician to check if your child is at high risk for allergies.
Offer pureed or mashed foods that are easy to swallow. Make sure to remove any seeds and other possible choking hazards. Babies often like sweet food, but avoid giving them anything with added sugar or salt. Giving fruit juice and cow’s milk is also discouraged until the baby reaches their first year.
Baby Care Tips
Baby’s first teeth may start to show up at six months, but you can begin to “brushing their teeth” even before they do come out. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists encourages cleaning gums as early as possible.
Parents can use a soft, clean cloth or gauze to wipe the gums and teeth clean gently. There are also finger brushes and baby toothbrushes with very soft bristles. Place a little water or a small amount of baby-safe fluoride toothpaste on these toothbrushes.
Most six-month olds sleep through the night and take naps during the day. They may continue to suddenly waken if they are uncomfortable from teething or feel sick. But you can otherwise discourage nightly feedings by nursing right before bedtime. Babies may also sleep better once they start solid foods as it keeps them full for longer.
As babies of this age may roll over while asleep, parents can do away with swaddling. Keep bed accessories like pillows, blankets, and toys to a minimum.
Baby Health & Safety
By six months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that babies complete the following vaccinations:
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP)
- Haemophilus influenza
What to Watch Out for and When to See a Doctor
Some babies may take a bit longer to reach their 6-month-old development milestones, but it is rarely a cause for concern. However, you should talk to your doctor if your baby exhibits certain behaviors:
- Not making eye contact or showing interest in people
- Not responding to sounds or attempting to make sounds
- Not laughing or showing happiness
- Not trying to roll, crawl, or reach for objects
- Not gaining weight
Though reaching these milestones is important, factors like premature birth can sometimes cause delays. Talk to your pediatrician about developmental screening to rule out other concerns. Otherwise, allow your baby to grow at their own pace.
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.