6-Month-Old Baby Milestones
Happy half birthday! After six months of learning and growing, your baby is ready to take on some new thrills in the month ahead. From first bites of food to more seated play, your baby is quite clearly blossoming into a little person now…well on their way to toddlerhood.
Your 6-Month Old Baby’s Development
Gone are the days of colicky cries and waking two to three times a night. The 4th Trimester is done and your little one is interested in everything…especially you!
Adding solid food to your baby’s diet is another big milestone—and not just because it’s adorable to snap those messy-face pictures at dinner time. Although breastmilk or formula will still be your baby’s main source of calories for a while, these added options introduce their pint-sized palates to new flavors and textures.
And while you are probably eager to see your baby’s gross motor skills continue to develop, there is something nice about this “potted-plant stage” where your lovebug is—more or less—happy to stay in one spot for playtime. In just a couple of months that will totally change and you will have to get out your running shoes…and then your roller skates!
Note: You should definitely be getting a little scared about the risk of accidents in your home! Six months is a typical age when babies can suddenly reach out and pull hot coffee onto everyone’s lap. (Immediately put a soaked cold wet towel on your child—and your own burn—for at least two minutes…then call your doctor’s office.)
After the first three to four months of life when your baby was rapidly packing on the pounds, their physical growth rate (height, weight, and head size) has dramatically tapered. When you look at the growth chart at the doctor’s office, you will see that the growth curves have flattened out…meaning growth will now continue at a much slower pace.
Of course, your baby is massively growing in other ways! For example, with increasingly strong belly and back muscles, most babies can sit unassisted between 6 and 7 months. (By the way, sitting doesn’t just require strong truncal muscles, a baby also needs to relax the legs and let them fold down into a little diamond of support. That is a skill that is just coming online.)
We take sitting for granted, but this new skill is incredibly exciting for babies! It offers a whole new view of the world! Think of how hard a 3-month-old must work to push up and lift their head to see the world around them. Your baby’s vision and ability to track things moving in space are light years better than at birth. That’s why sitting allows an exciting new opportunity to watch and learn. Where are you going? Who just made that noise? What does walking look like?
Plus, sitting lets babies have their hands free, which gives them a thrilling increase in their ability to handle and play with books, blocks, and teddy bears.
Feeding Your 6-Month-Old Baby
Introducing Solids to Your 6-Month-Old
Experts recommend introducing solid food to your baby around 6 months (some advise starting as early as 4 months). That’s because…it’s fun! Many 6-month-olds are super excited to try new experience, including tastes. Your pediatrician will give you the green light to start feeding solids.
- Signs your baby is ready include the ability to sit in a highchair without support, showing excitement when your baby sees you eating, and better tongue coordination (at 4 to 5 months, many babies tongue-thrust, accidentally pushing food out of the mouth).
- Some parents opt to spoon-feed their babies, some prefer baby-led weaning, and some do a combination of the two. With baby-led weaning, the baby is in charge picking up and eating offered food (very soft chunks of finger foods—tiny bits of banana, avocado, steamed squash…nothing that’s hard or poses a choking risk) without a caregiver spooning it in.
- No honey for babies before 1 year! Honey can contain little invisible spores that grow in a baby’s intestine and release a dangerous toxin that paralyses the nerves, called infant botulism. After the first birthday, a baby’s immune system is better able to prevent that problem—but steer clear of the sweet stuff ‘til then.
- Some people think that eating a bunch of solid food will help scale back on nighttime feedings. But most fruits and veggies are pretty low in calories. (They’re what supermodels eat to stay bony!) Even starchy foods, like oatmeal or rice cereal, are much lower in calories than the incredibly nutritious super-food that is milk! Your breastmilk or formula still provide the lion’s share of your baby’s calories (up to 95%!) at 6 months.
- A very good reason for starting solids at 6 months is because breastmilk or formula are now getting a bit low in one very important nutrient: iron. Foods rich in iron include mashed lentils, a tablespoon of adult organic prune juice, finely pureed meat. It helps to mix into these foods a bit of vitamin C, which allow the body to absorb iron much more efficiently. (Try some fresh banana with the prune juice or put a squirt of lemon juice or some infant vitamin C drops on the lentils or meat.) One more tip: cooking food in a cast iron skillet also boosts the iron level in food.
The Scoop on Food Allergies
About one in 13 kids (8%) has food allergies. Some allergic reactions can be severe, which is why any food allergies should be taken seriously. What does that mean for you as you’re introducing foods?
- Common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, citrus, strawberries, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, etc.
- To reduce the risk of food allergies, doctors used to recommend delaying the introduction until 1-year of age. But over the past decade, we’ve learned that starting earlier actually reduces allergies! Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing high allergy foods by 6 months.
- Symptoms of an allergic reaction range from mild (itchy mouth, spotty hives, tummy discomfort) to severe (shortness of breath, facial swelling, vomiting, bluish skin). Follow up with your pediatrician as quickly as you can about any mild symptoms. If your child has any severe symptoms, call 911 and ask for an ambulance with auto-injectable epinephrine.
- The severity of a reaction increases with the amount of food consumed—which is why it’s best to introduce common allergens in very small quantities. Think: a single ground peanut or a teaspoon of baked egg.
- Start offering common allergens one at a time with a gap of a few days before adding something new. And plan on doing the introduction at breakfast time. This will allow you to closely monitor your child’s response. It’s not a bad idea to introduce these foods on a weekday, when you know your pediatrician will be in the office.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.