Your 6-Month-Old Baby’s Development

Major milestones and everyday tips for your baby at 6 months old

Can you believe you are halfway to your baby’s first year? So much has happened in the past six months as you have watched your little one grow from a tiny newborn to a smiling 6-month-old. This month is a big age for babies, with lots of exciting new developments, like starting solid foods, babbling, and sitting up. Learn more about what you can expect from your baby at 6 months old.

6-month-old baby milestones and development
 Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell

Your Growing Baby

At six months, your baby’s growth is still somewhat slow. While they are still growing, they will no longer be gaining an ounce a day. On average, babies at six months have more than doubled their birth weight, with some babies adding a few more pounds. Six months also marks a lot of big developmental milestones for your baby because of how strong they are getting.

Developmental Milestones

Body

  • Begins passing objects from one hand to the other
  • Rolls from front to back, and back to front
  • Sits without support
  • Bounces when in a standing position
  • Bears more weight on legs
  • Rocks back and forth on hands and knees
  • Starts to “scoot” backward
  • Tries to crawl
  • Uses a raking grasp (swiping at objects with fingers open) that progresses to a pincher grasp (using the pointer finger and thumb) over time
  • Sees across a room well (eyesight is approaching that of an adult’s)

Brain

  • Makes specific sounds tied to emotions, like happy sound or frustrated sounds
  • Responds when talked to
  • Makes sounds back at you
  • Recognizes familiar faces
  • Responds if someone is a stranger (with fear, crying, or reaching back for a caregiver)
  • Likes to look in a mirror
  • Begins to string vowel sounds together when “talking,” such as “eh, oh, and ah”
  • Responds to name
  • Babbles consonant sounds, such as “m” or “b”
  • Responds to other emotions, such as with sadness or happiness
  • Learns about the world through taste and touch

When to Be Concerned

Although every baby will develop differently, if your little one is displaying any of the following signs or symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor about them or discuss them at your baby’s 6-month well-child check-up:

  • Doesn’t attempt to reach for items around them
  • Doesn't respond to affection from you
  • Doesn’t appear to respond to sounds
  • Can’t bring items, like a rattle or stuffed animal, to their mouth
  • Can’t make sounds
  • Is unable to roll
  • Has not laughed or made “happy” noises like squealing
  • Seems stiff or does not move head easily
  • Is not gaining weight

A Day in the Life

At 6 months old, your baby will be a lot more active than months past and will require a lot of hands-on care as they start to become more mobile. A typical day in the life of a 6-month-old might look like:

  • 7 a.m.—Awake for the day and ready for a meal of breast milk or formula. If you have started solids, you may offer your baby a serving of baby food for breakfast as well, such as pureed avocado, banana, or strawberries. It is recommended that you offer your baby the breast or a bottle first before solids.
  • 9 a.m.—First nap of the day, between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours
  • 10 a.m.—Awake, another feeding, and playtime
  • 11:30 a.m.—Another nap that may be shorter
  • 12:30 p.m.—Awake and ready for another meal. Again, if you have offered solids, you could do a small baby meal of pureed vegetables, rice cereal or fruit.
  • 2 p.m.—Nap
  • 4 p.m.—Awake time, bottle or nurse, playtime
  • 6 p.m.—Dinner. You could put the baby in a highchair with you and your family so you can all “eat” together.
  • 7 p.m.—Begin bedtime routine, such as a bath, story, infant massage, or rocking together
  • 7:30 p.m.—Sleep

Baby Care Basics

Starting Solid Food

At 6 months old, your baby is officially considered ready for baby food! So, does that mean you should start feeding your baby solids right away? Not necessarily.

Although most babies start eating solids around 6 months of age, baby food can be started anywhere between 4 months to 8 months. All babies develop differently and some babies may be more ready to start eating solids than others. Instead of using a strict age like 6 months to start feeding your baby solids, it’s more helpful to follow your baby’s cues to tell you they are ready for food? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends looking for the following signs in your little one:

  • Holds their head up
  • Opens their mouth when food is nearby
  • Gets food from a spoon into their mouth (and doesn’t just open the mouth and let food spill over the chin)
  • Weighs at least 13 pounds or has doubled their birth weight
  • Shows an active interest in food, such as reaching for a spoon or watching you eat

If your baby is ready for solid food, try these options:

  • Make your own baby food: Making your own baby food is often recommended by doctors and nutritionists because it’s the single best way to ensure that your baby is getting fresh and healthy food. You can steam a soft vegetable, such as squash, sweet peas, or puree a fresh vegetable such as avocado for your baby’s first taste of solids.
  • Purchase prepared baby food: There are many nutritious options for baby food that you can buy from the store if you don’t have the time or resources to make your own. Aim for minimally-processed, low-sugar, no added preservatives, or organic brands.

To prepare for your baby’s first feeding, you will need some supplies to get ready:

  • Highchair or other upright baby seat
  • Bib to catch those first dribbles. Your baby will most likely need a few tries before they get the hang of food, so don’t be alarmed if there are some “leaks” at first
  • Soft spoon and bowl to use
  • A baby food maker, if you will be making your own food

As you introduce solid food into your baby’s diet, start with one food at a time. The AAP explains that there is no need to introduce any one type of food over another to your baby. Babies naturally prefer sweet food and no amount of broccoli will change that! So, rest assured you can introduce any type of healthy and fresh food to your baby first, even fruit. Although doctors used to recommend some kind of grain, like rice cereal, as baby’s first food, there is no medical evidence to support introducing grains first. Now, experts recommend parents or caregivers start with fresh food instead.

No matter what food you start with, introduce one food at a time so that you can watch your baby for any potential allergies or reactions to the food. Here are a few other tips to keep in mind as your baby begins solids this month:

  • You usually have to offer your baby a new food several times before they accept it. So, if at first you don’t succeed, it doesn’t necessarily mean your baby hates that food—they might just need a few more feedings to get used to the new taste and texture.
  • Your baby’s bowel movements might also look a little different as they eat more solids. Find out what to watch out for and what to expect in your baby's poop as your baby starts solid foods.
  • Start with 1–2 tablespoons of baby food, two to three per day when you begin feedings and slowly work your way up to around 4–5 tablespoons per feeding as your baby grows.
  • Hold off on finger foods until they are closer to 8 months or 9 months old and can do a pincer grasp to grab food.
  • Never force your baby to finish a serving. If they turn their head away or close their mouth, don’t force it.
  • The only off-limits foods are any foods that could pose a choking hazard and honey. Babies under 1 year of age should not have honey.

Feeding & Nutrition

Even though your baby has started solid foods, they will still need to continue with breast milk and formula as their main source of nutrition. As your baby eats more solids over the next few months, you may notice that your baby doesn’t require as much formula or is not interested in nursing as often. However, at this early stage, it's important not to decrease their formula or cut out any nursing sessions. You will want to give your baby plenty of time to adjust first. Between 4 and 6 months, babies will typically drink 4–8 ounces of formula at every feeding or will nurse every three to five hours.

Remember, breast milk or formula still provides them with all of the hydration they need, so you don’t need to give your baby water yet. As your baby begins to eat more solids or depending on the circumstances (maybe you live in a very hot climate), you may begin to introduce small sips of water over the next few months. Keep in mind that babies under 12 months old should never have juice. The AAP notes that by 6 months, 80 percent of families have already started giving babies juice, but we recommend your baby stick to breast milk or formula only for the first year of life.

Sleep

By 6 months, many babies are sleeping through the night and taking two to three naps during the day. If your little one is not sleeping through the night, that doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is “wrong,” it could just mean that your baby is developing at a different timeline or has different sleep needs. Things like a growth spurt, an infection, or teething could also interrupt your infant’s sleep at night. Some parents find that babies start sleeping a little better through the night once they begin eating solids—it’s just another sign your baby is growing up fast!

At 6 months, many babies begin rolling from their back to their front, which can be a concern for many parents when it comes to sleep. Fortunately, by 6 months, an infant’s risk of SIDS has significantly decreased. The AAP currently recommends that parents always put their babies to sleep on their back, but there is no need to readjust your baby if they roll during their sleep. To continue to reduce your infant’s risk of SIDS, you could:

  • Stop the use of a swaddle, as it may pose a hazard if it comes loose as your baby becomes more active
  • Do not allow anything soft or loose in the bed, including blankets, quilts, pillows, or stuffed animals
  • Do not use crib bumpers, even “breathable” versions
  • Use a sleep sack instead of blankets during colder months
  • Run a fan in your baby’s room
  • Keep the temperature cool and comfortable to keep from overheating
  • Get rid of all window blinds in your home

Health & Safety

It’s time for your little one’s 6-month well-child visit. At this visit, your baby will receive the following vaccines per the CDC’s immunization schedule:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis)(DTaP)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Polio (IPV)
  • Pneumococcal (PCV)
  • Rotavirus (RV)
  • Influenza (flu)

Side effects of immunizations are generally mild and can include a mild fever, redness at the injection site, fussiness, and/or sleepiness. If you believe your baby has an adverse reaction to a vaccine, you should speak to your doctor about the next steps.

Your baby may also start teething this month if they haven't already. Your child’s pediatrician will advise you to monitor your child’s teething symptoms, keep them comfortable, administer medication if needed for the pain, and begin oral hygiene. Your baby might not have teeth in yet, but they still need to brush! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends parents begin brushing their babies’ gums with a soft toothbrush as early as birth. You can add a small amount of toothpaste when cleaning once your baby has teeth.

Some other helpful safety tips to keep in mind this month as your baby grows are:

  • The AAP currently does not recommend the use of baby walkers because they pose a fall risk and are not helpful for your baby’s development. Instead, encourage your baby to learn to stand by holding them in an upright position or using an activity center.
  • Always use a rear-facing car seat until at least two years of age.
  • Never put your baby’s car seat in the front seat or near an airbag.
  • It’s a good idea to start babyproofing your house now before your baby is crawling.
  • At 6 months, your baby will start grabbing and reaching for items, such as your hot cup of coffee in the morning or that burning frying pan near the counter. Take special care this month to consider what items are within reach of a curious baby. If your baby does get burned, treat the area with cool water, cover loosely with a cloth bandage, and call a doctor right away.

Must Knows

This week, keep the following “must-knows” in mind as you celebrate the first six months of your baby’s life:

  • Yes, you can have a half-birthday cake: Half-birthdays are a “thing” for some families, and you know what? That’s great if it works for you! Six months is a major accomplishment and if you feel the urge to have a little cake to celebrate, go right ahead. Just keep in mind that the cake is definitely more for you than the baby, but hey, you’re the one doing all the work here anyway, so it’s deserved.
  • Give yourself congratulations: By 6 months, a large majority of mothers are no longer breastfeeding their babies. And while there are many factors that go into why it’s hard for women to breastfeed through the first 6 months, such as work, medical conditions, and lack of support, it is a priority of leading health organizations to encourage breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. If you have made it this far, give yourself some major props, because you’ve given your baby a great start to life. And if breastfeeding hasn’t worked for you for whatever reason, celebrate the successes you have had as a mom. You’re doing great!
  • This stage is a great age to really enjoy your baby: The 6-month-old stage is a very special time in your little one’s life, because most babies at this age are generally happy, love to smile and “play” with you, and are not mobile yet, which means that you can enjoy your baby before they learn to crawl away (and see what kind of trouble they can get into around the home!)
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