Your baby is now half a year old and, although it may only feel like yesterday since they arrived, has made some remarkable developmental progress in the past 6 months. At this stage, your baby will likely be double (or more) their birth weight and will have learned some key communication tools that allow them to express emotions in a variety of ways.
Yet, caring for a baby is an ongoing learning curve and you probably have many unanswered questions and queries about your baby’s development. Read on to find out more information about the progress and care of a 6-month baby.
Baby Development by Month: Sixth Month
At six months, your baby has reached the half year point and some parents like to celebrate with half a cake to mark the occasion. There are many reasons to rejoice, too, as your baby has reached some major developmental milestones since they entered the outside world. By now, your baby will be passing items from one hand to the other, sitting up without support, trying to crawl, bearing weight on their legs, and rolling over completely.
In terms of their cognitive development, a 6-month old baby can make sounds to express their emotions, respond when spoken to, recognize familiar faces, and string together vowel sounds and some consonant sounds. A 6-month old may also show intent fascination when looking in the mirror.
Average Baby Weight and Physical Changes
Now that your baby is at the 6-month mark, their weight and height gain will slow. For the first few months of life, babies gain up to 2 pounds and grow almost 1 inch every month. Now, however, your baby will gain around 1 pound and an extra half inch in length per month. The average baby weight for boys is between 17 to 18 pounds for boys and 16 to 17 pounds for girls. The average baby length is between 25 to 27 inches. Averages, though, should be taken with a pinch of salt, as every baby progresses at different rates and the range of “normal” is vast.
Aside from the height and weight gains, other physical changes are happening to your baby this month. The muscles in their back and neck are strengthening every day and, by now, your baby may be able to sit upright for longer periods of time.
Baby Movement Milestones
As your baby gets stronger, their movements will become more fluid and diverse. A 6-month baby typically has enough upper body strength to raise their torso using the arms while lying on their stomach. Some babies may even start bouncing on their bottoms while sitting.
Other common baby movement milestones at month 6 include banging objects together, grabbing and holding on to different items, placing objects to their mouth, and supporting themselves in a standing position when holding on something.
Baby Vision Development
A common question among parents at this stage is, “how far can a 6-month old see?”. The answer is that your baby will be seeing far more than a few months ago, but still has a lot of visual development to go. Their ability to differentiate colors is constantly improving and they will now be able to distinguish between softer and light colors. As their depth perception continues to improve, so does their hand-eye coordination, and you may notice your child reaching out for more objects within their field of vision.
To help improve your baby’s vision development, try reading bright and colorful books to them, and take regular trips outdoors so that they can process new visual information.
Baby Hearing Development
A good way to tell if your baby’s hearing development is on track is to listen out for the different sounds they are making while “talking”. Baby’s make noises based on what they hear, and if they are making new vowel and consonant sounds, it means that they are trying to imitate the voices that they have been exposed to.
A six-month-old baby will also be soothed by familiar and interesting sounds. Try to have regular “conversations”, giving them enough time to respond with babbles and coos. This will not only allow your baby to practice the sounds they have heard, but also teach them the dynamics and speaking patterns of a conversation.
Baby Sense of Smell Development
At 6 months, a baby’s sense of smell is crucial. This is because most parents introduce solid foods at this stage. Smell and taste are highly linked and the foods that your baby likes will be determined by whether or not they like the fragrance of it.
A baby’s sense of smell will also help the to recognize strange or familiar people and settings. It’s common for babies to cry or become unsettled when introduced to a stranger, due to their unfamiliar scent. If this happens, reassure your child that everything is okay by comforting and soothing them.
Baby Feeding Schedule
As mentioned above, many parents and caregivers introduce solid foods when their baby is six-months old. It’s important to remember, though, that formula or breastmilk should still be their primary source of nutrition and new solid foods should be introduced slowly.
For many babies, their first solid food is rice or oatmeal. The composition of cereals makes them a good food to aid the transition from liquids to solids. Start by trying to feed your baby one to two spoons if cereal and gradually build up the quantity over the following few weeks. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t ready for solid foods yet. Solid foods are introduced slowly and there is no race to completely transition them away from breastmilk or baby formula.
There are certain foods that babies should avoid, too. You should not feed your baby raw honey, cow milk, high-mercury fish, or any foods that can be considered a choking hazard.
If you decide to feed your baby solid foods, make sure that they are sat in an upright position while eating and that they are in a secure seat. Try small quantities at a time, and don’t force your baby to eat something that they are particularly averse to.
Baby Sleep Schedule
6-month old babies sleep for around 14 hours every day. Some babies will even sleep for the entire duration of the night at this stage. All six-month old babies still need to have naps, though, and they should be allowed 2 to 4 naps during the day, or as many as required.
How to Change Baby Sleep Schedule
Changing your baby’s sleep schedule is important for teaching them about the different patterns of the day. Parents should create a sense of calm during the evenings and stimulate their baby’s senses during the day. A simple way to do this is to develop a regular evening routine and stick to it every day (e.g. 6pm bath time, 6:30pm story time, 7pm bedtime). A routine that works for you may not be the same as the routine that works for another parent. Parents should adjust their schedule to suit their own personal needs and circumstances.
Baby Emotional Development Milestones: Sixth Month
The 6-month milestone marks the beginning of some profound and noticeable changes in a babies social and emotional development. Their personalities will start to shine through, and you will notice many changes to their behavior. At this stage, your baby will likely be able to express delight and happiness by smiling or laughing and will express sadness and displeasure through a variety of grunts, babbles, and cries.
Other emotional development milestones to look out for include:
- Seeking attention.
- Becoming unsettled when away from parents or caregivers.
- Displaying fear by crying or screaming.
- Pointing at things spontaneously.
- Expressing likes and dislikes through noises and facial expressions.
Baby Daily Routine at Month 6
A baby’s daily routine is largely dependent on their food and sleep requirements. Both of these factors vary greatly depending on the baby and, as such, so will their daily routine. It is still important, though, to have a loose schedule that you can follow with your child in order to teach them a routine. Playtime should be allocated in the mornings as this is the time when babies absorb most information and are most alert.
If possible, try to schedule time to read stories to your child in the evenings before bed. Not only will this improve the bond your child feels towards you, it will also teach them that the evenings are a time for quiet and winding down.
Baby Causes for Concern at Month 6
Caring for a baby can be scary at times, and it can easy to hit the panic button at the first slightest sign of an ailment. Most of the time, these turn out to be false alarms, but there are certain situations in which you should consult a medical professional for further assistance. You should seek help if your baby:
- Isn’t making wye contact with you or any objects that are close by.
- Isn’t making any noises or responding to noise.
- Has poor head control.
- Can’t sit upright without help.
- Doesn’t reach for objects.
Baby Checklist at Month 6
A good way to measure the progress of your baby is to monitor their development using a checklist of common traits of a 6-month baby. The following list outlines some of the most common milestones that babies have reached by this stage:
- Raise upper body using arms while lying on tummy.
- Rolling over from back to front and front to back.
- Babbling and cooing
- Following objects with their eyes when moving close by.
- Responding to the sound of their parents or caregivers voice.
- Laughing and smiling to express joy.
How do I know my baby is developing?
An important way to detect that your baby is developing is to monitor their weight. If they are consistently gaining weight, it’s likely that their physical growth development is on track. Consistent weight gain is more important than measuring their weight against the average baby weight of children the same age.
Parents and caregivers can also use the checklist outlined above to monitor the progress of their baby’s development.
How can I help my baby’s development?
Certain activities will aid your baby’s physical and cognitive development as they get older. At this stage, it’s important to play with your baby as much as possible, taking advantage of the morning time when your baby’s mind is at its most active. It’s also a good idea to excite their senses as much as possible, introducing new sounds and visual information for their brains to process.
A simple way to encourage movement is to place toys just out of arms reach, so that your baby has to shuffle and slide in order to get hold of them.
What age do babies start doing things?
At 6 months, your baby has likely just started to introduce solid foods into their diet. The next major milestone will be crawling, which is likely to occur within the next few months as your baby’s muscles continue to develop. Most babies don’t make their first few walking steps until they are between 9 and 12 months old. They won’t start talking until they are much older, from around 18 months onwards.