You may find it hard to believe, but you’ve made it halfway through your infant’s first year! In just six short months, your baby has started to learn how to communicate and to eat solid foods.
This portion of WebMD’s month-by-month guide provides a few of the baby milestones you can expect your child to achieve in the sixth month.
Sixth Month Baby Milestones: Growth
During the first few months of life, your baby was growing at a rate of about 1 ½ to 2 pounds a month. By now, she should have at least doubled her birth weight. At six months, baby’s growth will slow to about 1 pound a month. Height gain will also slow, to about a half-inch each month.
Sixth Month Baby Milestones: Motor Skills
Your baby may be starting to sit up alone by six months. To get ready, babies first prop themselves up with their hands, but over time they can start to let go and sit unsupported.
Your 6-month-old can probably roll from his back to his stomach and vice versa. Some babies can propel themselves around the floor using this rolling method. Or, they may creep forward or backward -- sliding around on their tummies while pushing against the floor. You may notice your baby rise up on hands and knees and rock back and forth.
Sixth Month Baby Milestones: Sleep
Most babies are sleeping six to eight hours at a stretch by six months. When babies at this age have trouble falling or staying asleep, some parents turn to a method developed by pediatrician Richard Ferber. The Ferber Method, as it is known, involves putting your baby into the crib while she’s still awake. If your baby cries, wait for a progressively longer period of time each night before going in to provide comfort. This method works well for some families, but you may need to experiment with several different sleep methods before you find the one that works best for you.
Now that your baby can roll over independently, don’t be alarmed if you put her to sleep on her back and she wakes up on her tummy. The risk of SIDS is much lower at six months than it was in the first few months of life. Still, it’s a good idea to keep stuffed animals, pillows, crib bumpers, and other soft items out of the crib for now.
Sixth Month Baby Milestones: The Senses
You may notice that your baby’s eyes have changed from their birth color. Lighter-colored eyes may go through several shifts before settling on their final shade at about six months. If your baby still has blue eyes now, chances are they’ll stay that way permanently.
Sixth Month Baby Milestones: Eating
If you haven’t started your baby on solid foods already, your pediatrician will likely recommend that you do so at six months. Begin with an iron-fortified cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. As your baby adjusts to solids, introduce strained fruits and vegetables one at a time. Wait a few days each time you try something new to make sure she isn’t allergic to it.
If your baby doesn’t seem to like a new food, wait a few days and then try it again. Babies are fickle creatures and their tastes can change from one day to the next.
Introduce foods one at a time to be able to monitor for any reactions such as rash, diarrhea, or vomiting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no evidence that introducing foods such as eggs and fish after 4-6 months of age increases the risk of food allergies. Wait to give your baby honey until at least age one, because it can carry the bacteria that cause botulism. Cow’s milk should also not be given until your baby is at least 1 year old, although products made with cow’s milk, such as yogurt or soft cheese, are fine.
Sixth Month Baby Milestones: Communication
Your 6-month-old baby should be smiling, laughing, and babbling away (“ma-ma,” “ba-ba”). To help her learn the language, read stories together every night.
Babies at this age are starting to recognize the people and things around them. Your baby will start to feel comfortable with the familiar -- mommy, daddy, grandma, and grandpa, as well as a few of her favorite toys. You might see the first signs of fear when she is with strange people or in new situations.
Going Back to Work
You may be lucky enough to have a friend or relative nearby to babysit. If not, here are a few tips for choosing a safe and trustworthy childcare provider:
- Visit several childcare centers. Spend as much time as possible at each one to get a feel for what your baby might experience there. If you’re able, drop in unannounced so you can see how the center runs when they’re not prepared for a visit.
- Check to make sure that the facility provides a clean, safe environment. There should be no obvious safety hazards -- such as dangling cords, open outlets, or small toys -- and emergency procedures should be clearly posted.
- Ask about the ratio of staff members to children. The fewer children per staff member, the better. Each state’s requirement for licensed childcare centers varies, but most stipulate no more than three to six babies for every one childcare worker.
- Find out about the background of every person who will be watching your child. Make sure the facility conducts careful background checks of all their employees, from the childcare workers to the maintenance people.
Tips for Baby’s Sixth Month
- Be on the lookout for signs that your baby is not hitting important milestones, like babbling, sitting unassisted, smiling, making eye contact, or responding to sounds. If you’re concerned she has missed any milestone, call your pediatrician.
- Play peek-a-boo and similar games with your baby. It will help teach the idea of object permanence -- that objects still exist, even when they’re out of sight.
- Place toys just out of reach on the floor to encourage your baby to start crawling.
- If you have older children, make sure to put away toys with tiny pieces to prevent your baby from choking.