Your 6-Month-Old Baby’s Development and Milestones

As you approach your baby's 6-month birthday, it is probably hard to believe it has been half a year since they entered the world. A lot has happened over the last several months and this rapid growth and development will culminate in some exciting milestones this month. In fact, many parents are often delighted when their babies reach 6 months because it brings so many exciting changes.

Not only will your baby laugh and babble, but they also will likely be able to sit up without support and may show readiness for solid foods. Plus, they may even start sleeping longer stretches at night, which means you might finally get more shut-eye.

"At 6 months, your baby should be expressing joy and displeasure, displaying curiosity, and passing things from one hand to another," says Ben Levinson, MD, a primary care pediatrician with Nationwide Children's Hospital. "They will use a raking grasp and swipe objects with their fingers. They also should start reaching for you, recognizing who is a known person and who is a stranger at this point."

Here we discuss the key milestones you can expect your baby to reach this month—like starting solid foods and becoming more mobile—as well as some important safety considerations. Read on to find out what you need to know about your 6-month-old's development.

At This Age

  • Development: Your baby will likely lean on their hands to support themselves when sitting, babble, show more emotion, and be extremely curious about the world around them—often grabbing and putting things in their mouth.
  • Sleep: This month, your baby will begin to consolidate their sleep and may even begin sleeping through the night as well as nap two to three times a day.
  • Food: Even though you will likely introduce your baby to solids this month, most of your baby's nutritional needs will still be met by breastmilk or formula.
6-month-old baby milestones and development
 Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell

6-Month-Old Baby Development

Six months marks a lot of big developmental milestones for your baby because of how strong they are getting. But don't get too worried if your baby does not hit a particular developmental milestone at exactly 6 months of age. Some babies will hit milestones earlier and some will hit them a little later.

"So much of development occurs within a range of time and along a spectrum," says Marie Trace, MD, a specialist in developmental-behavioral pediatrics with Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation. "We have information about what that looks like for typically developing children, but it is important to remember that every child is unique."

At 6 months, your baby’s growth has slowed down somewhat. Even though they are still growing, they are no longer gaining an ounce a day. For the most part, babies at 6 months have more than doubled their birth weight, with some babies adding a few more pounds.

As your baby approaches their 6-month birthday, you can expect them to become more engaged and curious. Now that they can sit up without support, they can see the world from a whole new perspective and are excited to learn more about it.

Your baby will use their hands more and may even become assertive about what they like and don't like. Keep in mind that your baby learns about the world around them through touch and taste at this age, so don't be surprised if they grab your slipper or the dog's toy and put it in their mouth. For this reason, it is important that you never leave your baby to play alone. You need to be there to stop them from tasting the wrong things.

Your baby also will be eager to reach out and touch everything they see. This includes off-limits items like hot pans, coffee mugs, and even dangly earrings. And, if your baby cannot manage to get to these items on their own, they may demand your help by yelling, banging, or dropping the nearest object at hand.

Even though your baby's movement is likely limited to rolling—and possibly rocking back and forth on their hands and knees—it won't be long until they are completely mobile. So, make sure if you haven't done so already that you get your house babyproofed.

6-Month-Old Baby Milestones

According to Dr. Trace, there are five primary areas of development. These include social-emotional, language-communication, cognitive or problem-solving, movement, and self-help/adaptive. Your baby will hit milestones in each of these areas this month.

"It's really important to note that none of those domains exist in a vacuum, though—they are intertwined and work together," she says. "For instance, it is important for babies this age to be able to move around and bang things together. If they cannot get there, they cannot learn some other important skills."

For this reason, it is important to pay attention to what your baby is doing at this age. It will give you some insight as to whether they are hitting the milestones they should be. Try not to worry too much, though, if they do not hit every milestone at 6-months-old. Each baby is unique with some babies hitting some milestones earlier while some reach these milestones slightly later.

Some of the bigger milestones that babies hit around 6 months of age involve movement and language. For instance, your baby should be able to roll front to back and back to front, sit without support, support some weight on their legs, and begin rocking back and forth on their hands and knees, Dr. Levinson says.

"They also should be able to pass objects from hand to hand," he adds. "But if they show a hand preference, that should be mentioned to your pediatrician. Hand preference is not something we expect to see until later and would be something that should be investigated."

As for language, your baby should respond to sounds, string vowels together, and respond to their name, Dr. Trace says. They also should be making noises to show their joy and their displeasure and may start to say consonant sounds as well.

"Make sure you are hearing those vowel sounds," Dr. Trace says. "A really quiet baby is one who I would wonder if this baby can hear."

Additional Behaviors

  • Brings objects and toys to their mouth
  • Shows curiosity and tries to get things that are out of reach  
  • Recognizes familiar faces as well as knows who is a stranger
  • Likes to look in the mirror
  • Responds to others and especially enjoys playing with parents or caregivers

6-Month-Old Baby Food

If your baby shows signs of being ready for solid foods—such as sitting without support, opening their mouth for food, and reaching for your food—you can start introducing them to different foods.

"When a baby shows signs of being ready to eat, we move forward," says Dr. Trace. "We also don't need to void allergenic foods any longer."

Once your baby is ready for solids, start out slowly. Choose a time when you won't be rushed and you both can get a little messy. It is also important to allow your baby to self-feed if they want to try.

This means letting them try to pick up the spoon and feed themself. Of course, you may have to help especially if they do not have the coordination skills yet, but allowing your baby to self-feed builds autonomy.

"It also doesn't matter what order you introduce foods," Dr. Levinson says. "You can choose any order you want. The only caveat would be if your baby has moderate to severe eczema. Then, you may want to talk to your pediatrician first about when to introduce highly allergenic foods."

What you choose to feed your baby is also a matter of personal preference, too. Some parents choose pre-made baby foods while others opt from making their own. Or, you can even puree something that the family is eating if you prefer.

Just be mindful of the texture and consistency of the food. Because your baby is just learning how to eat, you should stick with pureed or extremely soft foods. Aside from choking concerns, there are very few limitations when it comes to feeding solids.

"You do want to avoid introducing honey or cow's milk during the first year of life though," Dr. Levinson says.

6-Month-Old Baby Sleep

By the time your baby's 6-month-birthday rolls around, they are likely consolidating their sleep at night much more consistently than they did early on. They also are taking 2 to 3 naps a day. Overall, your baby will sleep a total of about 14 hours. Most of the time, this includes about 10 hours of sleep at night and 4 hours during the day.

"At 6 months, babies might start sleeping better at night," Dr. Levinson says. "They usually sleep longer stretches and might switch from three naps to two naps around this time period."

Babies this age also may start waking at night. Sometimes babies wake at night because they are teething or they are experiencing separation anxiety. But other times, they awaken because they are learning a new skill and want to practice it. They may even wake up wanting to nurse or take a bottle.

"Because it is OK to give babies water at this age, I sometimes tell families that if a baby keeps waking up to feed in the middle of the night, try giving them a little water in a sippy cup [instead of nursing or a bottle]," Dr. Levinson says. "They will slowly stop waking up to feed in the middle of the night if all they are getting is water."

Another option is to wake your baby to nurse or take a bottle before you go to bed, he says. This way your baby gets one final feeding before you go to sleep. If your baby does wake at night, try to make the experience as boring as possible for them. Do what needs to be done in a loving and safe manner but do not play games like peek-a-boo or interact like you would during the day.

6-Month-Old Baby Schedule

At 6 months old, your baby will be a lot more active than in months past and will require a lot of hands-on care as they start to become more curious and more mobile, Dr. Levinson says. Additionally, as your baby begins to sleep more at night, they will have longer wake windows during the day. Look to these awake periods as opportunities to engage with your baby.

You can read books or simply talk with your baby. For instance, repeat back the sounds they are making as a way of mimicking conversation. Babies this age also enjoy playing peek-a-boo as well as looking in baby-safe mirrors.

Another way to engage your baby is to talk to them about what you are doing and why. Use mealtimes as a time to interact, telling your baby about different foods and describing the tastes. Even though they cannot answer back or participate in the conversation, they are learning from the words you speak.

You also can encourage movement by putting your baby's favorite toys nearby but just out of reach. This will encourage your baby to try to move toward the toy either by rolling to get it or by getting on their hands and knees and rocking—the beginning stages of crawling. Because your baby will be mobile soon, you should invest in some baby gates if you haven't done so already.

6-Month-Old Baby Health and Safety

At 6 months, your baby will be ready for their 6-month well-child visit. At this visit, they will continue the immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These immunizations include polio, rotavirus, pneumococcal, and influenza, as well as the DTap vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) and the Hib vaccine (Haemophilus influenzae type b).

UPDATE: November 2022

On October 20, 2022, the Center for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to add COVID-19 vaccination to the childhood immunization schedule. While the CDC makes vaccine recommendations, each state will determine which ones are required for school entry. The updated schedule is set to be released in early 2023.

Your baby may also start teething this month if they haven't already. Most likely, your healthcare provider will advise you on how to keep them comfortable, how much pain medication you can use (based on their weight), and how to begin oral hygiene.

Another area of concern for this age is your baby's increasing curiosity and mobility. Parents and caregivers need to be diligent about keeping their baby safe not only from falls but also from pulling on something hot or putting something dangerous in their mouths.

"Parents need to be more careful about being safe with the baby," says Dr. Levinson. "For instance, don't leave a baby on a changing table or bed where they could roll-off. They also will put everything in their mouth at this age, so watch out for poisonous and small things."

Even if your baby is not particularly mobile just yet, you need to avoid leaving them unattended, even just to run to the bathroom. Babies this age learn about their environment by putting things in their mouths so there is an increased risk of choking.

"Babies this age also like to reach, grab, and pull on things like hot beverages, cords, necklaces, and bracelets, so you need to consider how to keep your baby from pulling on these things," Dr. Levinson says.

6-Month-Old Baby Care Basics

While you are likely a veteran now when it comes to bathing your baby and changing their diapers, there are some things that change this month. For instance, as your baby begins eating more solid foods, you may notice some changes in their diapers. Other than a change in consistency, color, and smell, there isn't much else that changes, though.

Now is also the time to establish more of a sleep schedule making sure your baby is getting two to three naps a day and sleeping at least 10 hours at night. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a bedtime routine if you haven't done so already.

Additionally, a lot of babies get their first cold by 6 months of age, much to their parent's disappointment. In fact, a baby can get as many as 8 to 10 colds a year before turning 2 years old. The key is to follow your healthcare provider's advice on how to handle a cold and don't be afraid to reach out with questions.

What Else to Know About Your 6-Month-Old

Your 6-month-old is likely becoming more social and engaging at this age. They might try to make eye contact with you and will even sometimes try to mimic the sounds you are making. What's more, their personality is starting to really blossom at this age, says Dr. Trace.

"Babies are born with their own God-given temperament, behavioral type, or style that is present from day one," says Dr. Trace. "No amount of shaping can impact that."

Start trying to look for signs of your baby's temperament, which often begins to emerge more significantly around this age, and think about ways you can accommodate that. Rather than trying to change your baby's personality, focus on how you can complement it.

"Figure out what makes them tick and how you can incorporate yourself into that," she says.

The 6-month timeframe is a time to really enjoy who your baby is and learn more about them. Look for ways to play together and interact in ways that are meaningful, especially while they are less mobile. Before long, your baby will be on the go exploring the world around them, so now is the time to become a student of your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can a 6-month-old baby do?

    A 6-month-old baby can sit up without support, pass objects from one hand to another, and often rock back and forth on their hands and knees. They also are learning to become more vocal and often babble and laugh and learn about their world by putting things in their mouths. Babies this age enjoy looking in baby-safe mirrors and playing peek-a-boo with their family members.

  • What should a 6-month-old be able to say?

    At 6-months-old, your baby is likely not saying any words, but they may repeat vowel sounds like "ah" and "oh." They also may begin jabbering and repeat consonant sounds as well. Your baby may even make special noises to show both pleasure and displeasure.

  • Can a 6-month-old walk?

    Not yet. Most babies this age can bear more weight on their legs and may even bounce up and down a little. Six-month-olds also are beginning to rock back and forth on their hands and knees, can roll front to back, and are learning how to scoot.

  • Is it OK for 6-month-old to sleep on their side?

    The AAP recommends that babies are put to sleep on their backs even at 6 months old. However, if your baby rolls to a side position in the middle of the night or during a nap, you do not have to readjust their sleeping position.

  • How many times should a 6-month-old wake up at night?

    About two-thirds of babies 6 months old are able to sleep through the night. At this age, they are typically sleeping about 10 hours at night and about 4 hours during the day. Sometimes after a baby has been sleeping through the night they will begin waking again. These nighttime sleep disruptions could be related to a new skill they are learning (they wake up to practice), teething, or even separation anxiety.

  • Can 6-month-old drink water?

    Prior to your baby's 6-month birthday, you probably were not giving them any water. After all, they were getting all the fluids they needed from breastmilk or formula. But once they begin eating solid foods, you can start giving them small amounts of water in a cup or about 4 to 8 ounces a day.

  • How much water should a 6-month-old baby drink?

    Babies can begin drinking water—4 to 8 ounces a day—when they are about 6 months old. Up until then, your baby has been getting all the fluids they need from formula or breastmilk. Try not to worry if your baby does not drink that much water. Simply offer them water in a cup and allow them to decide how much they want to drink, if at all.

A Word From Verywell

This month is your baby's half birthday and one that is filled with exciting changes. Not only will you likely be able to get more rest at night as they begin to consolidate their sleep, but you also will get to introduce solid foods to your baby sometime during this month. This experience can be both fun—and a little messy.

You are likely to enjoy this time in your baby's life as most babies this age are happy and enjoy interacting one-on-one. They laugh and babble and often have an insatiable curiosity about the world around them. Enjoy these moments together because before long your baby will be much more mobile and less inclined to sit and play.

16 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important milestones: Your baby by six months.

  2. Stanford Children's Health. Infant sleep.

  3. Stanford Children's Health. Feeding guide for the first year.

  4. Nemours KidsHealth. Your baby's growth: 6 months.

  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. Emotional and social development: 4 to 7 months.

  6. American Academy of Pediatrics. Movement milestones: babies 4 to 7 months.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your baby at 6 months.

  8. Washington University. Developmental Milestones Table.

  9. American Academy of Pediatrics. Starting solid foods.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines for your children: Protecting your child at every age: 6 months.

  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ACIP Immunization Schedule Vote

  12. American Academy of Pediatrics. Baby's first tooth: 7 facts parents should know

  13. Cleveland Clinic. Common cold in babies.

  14. UNICEF Parenting.  Your baby's developmental milestones at 6 months.

  15. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP policy explained.

  16. American Academy of Pediatrics. Recommended drinks for young children ages 0-5.

Additional Reading

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. 

Originally written by Chaunie Brusie, RN
Chaunie Brusie, RN
Chaunie Brusie is a registered nurse with experience in long-term, critical care, and obstetrical and pediatric nursing.
Learn about our editorial process