Your 6-Week-Old Baby’s Development

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

At six weeks, it may feel like your baby was just born, or it may feel like you have known them for a lifetime. You and your infant have gone through a lot of changes and growth in the past few weeks, and this one will hold a lot of new, exciting developments for both of you—from possibly heading back to work to growth spurts. Here is what you can expect from your 6-week-old baby’s development.

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

Your Growing Baby

At 6 weeks old, your baby is gaining weight at a rate of about 1.5 to 2 pounds per month, so by the end of two months, your infant could have packed on an additional 4 pounds since birth. Considering that your baby probably only weighed around 7 pounds to begin with, that's an impressive feat!

Your little one will also continue adding length, at an average of a little more than 3/4 of an inch per month. In some cases, babies tend to grow in “spurts” and add a lot of length at once, then have periods of slower growth.

And last but certainly not least, your baby’s head circumference will continue to grow about 2 centimeters per month for the first year of life. Although it might seem like a rather odd statistic to keep track of, your baby’s head circumference growth is an important indicator of their brain growth and development.

Developmental Milestones

At 6 weeks old, there's a lot of growth happening, but your baby may not hit all of these milestones just yet. These are the skills and developmental milestones they are working toward and should able to master soon.

Body

  • Holds their head up during tummy time or when you are holding them on your chest
  • Makes more smooth movements with their arms and legs

Brain

  • The first smile! "Smiles” up to this point may have been more related to gas, so this is a very exciting moment when your little one will start to smile for real at you and others around them.
  • Begins to self-soothe. Your infant is starting to learn important ways to calm down, such as sucking on a fist when feeling upset.
  • Tries to keep a parent in their line of sight. Babies at this age love looking at human faces more than anything, so this week, you’re the star of the show.
  • Turns head toward sounds.
  • “Coos” and gurgles in attempts to “talk” to you.
  • Gets bored. You won’t hear whines of “I’m bored!” just yet, but even at this young age, your baby can get fussy or irritable without new stimulation or activity and may cry when feeling bored.
  • Follows items, like a finger or a rattle, with his eyes across the room or as it moves.

When to Be Concerned

Not all babies develop at the same rate and there will always be considerations for your baby’s own unique abilities and special needs. Remember, there is a wide range of developments that can happen even within a week’s time span. However, by the end of two months, you may want to discuss with your baby’s doctor if you notice your little one:

  • Will not respond to loud sounds
  • Won’t watch items or people as they move
  • Is not smiling
  • Can’t bring their hands to their mouth
  • Can’t hold their head up when laying on their stomach

A Day in the Life

Now that your baby can get bored and can smile, it may affect how you spend your days together. Those two major developments mean you may have to switch things up a bit this week to keep your baby content. As you try out new activities, toys, or even silly faces to bring out those first smiles in your little one, here are some more suggestions to keep you both busy and happy.

  • Take a stroll: Most babies love taking a walk, getting some fresh air, and seeing the sights and sounds outside. At 6 weeks old, your baby will still need a stroller with an attached car seat.
  • Use a baby swing: Baby swings are a great way to keep your little one entertained and free up your own arms at home, too. Choose a baby swing that offers a built-in mobile for more fun. As always, don't leave your baby sleeping or unattended in a baby swing.
  • Pack up and go: If you're getting out of the house this week to start a new routine with a care provider (if you may be returning to work), you might find it helpful to purchase a lightweight bouncer or travel bouncer to take back and forth or leave with a caregiver.
  • Introduce new toys: These toys for 2-month-olds are all about encouraging motor skills and cause-and-reaction skills that your little one is just starting to develop. As your baby discovers their hands and how to hold items, plush, brightly-colored, or easy-to-reach toys are perfect for this age.

    Baby Care Basics

    Baby care this week may be centered around adjusting to a new routine if you are preparing to head back to work. You might feel like you just got a routine established and now, you're starting all over, but with time and patience, your family will feel settled again. If you are a working mom, keep these tips in mind:

    Every baby is different and some babies might be unaffected by an adjustment in their routine. Other babies may need a little more time to adjust. They may need extra comfort when you get home with them, want to nurse more, be held more, or even have more periods of fussiness and crying.

    What to Do When You Miss Your Baby at Work

    If you notice that your baby seems to be crying more this week, it could be due to a change in routine, or it may also be a normal part of development at this stage. The American Academy of Pediatrics says crying may actually increase during 6 to 8 weeks of a baby's life, so you might just need a little extra patience this week to get through some fussy times together. Always remember to get assistance when you can, and if you are ever feeling the urge to shake your baby, put them down in a safe place and call for help.

    Feeding & Nutrition

    Sometime between weeks 3 and 6, your baby will go through another growth spurt, so you may notice slight changes in eating and sleeping habits. It’s important to continue to follow your baby’s hunger cues and feed them on demand. By 6 weeks, your baby may be more adept at feeding efficiently, with breastfeeding sessions lasting around 15 to 20 minutes.

    Your baby’s bowel movements may also change significantly this week. Up until this time, your baby may have been having bowel movements several times a day and maybe as frequently as after every feeding. But as your little one enters the second month of life, they may start experiencing a decrease in bowel movements.

    At this age, it is very normal for breastfed babies to only have a bowel movement once a day, or to skip several days altogether. In fact, babies that are exclusively breastfed and do not receive any formula at all can go up to a week with only one bowel movement. At first, you may find this decrease concerning, but you can monitor your little one for constipation by being aware of these signs.

    • Bowel movements that are hard or resemble pellets. Normal bowel movements range from being loose or soft.
    • Discomfort or irritability in your baby with bowel movements.
    • Formula-fed babies are more likely to get constipated than exclusively breastfed babies, especially with high-iron formulas.

    Sleep

    Your baby will most likely not sleep through the night until at least two months of age, but hopefully last week you started to notice they were more awake during the day and sleeping for longer stretches at night. At this age, your infant will still sleep an average of 16 hours per 24-hour period. You can start to initiate these practices that will encourage your little one to sleep well as they grow:

    • Put them to sleep awake or a little drowsy.
    • Avoid letting them nurse or feed to sleep.
    • Be consistent with sleep routines, such as switching on a fan or white noise machine before laying your baby down or performing a sleep ritual, such as an infant massage.

    Health & Safety

    Sometime between weeks 6 and 9, your baby will have a 2-month check-up. The 2-month check-up is an important one because it will include your baby's first round of several vaccinations, including a combination vaccination.

    At this appointment, your baby will receive the pneumococcal, DTaP, Hib, and polio vaccines as injections and the rotavirus vaccine orally. Your baby will also receive the second hepatitis B at the 2-month check-up if they didn't have it at the 1-month checkup.

    Talk to your doctor about what they recommend you do in preparation for your visit. You may want to plan on nursing your baby right after the vaccinations to help soothe, so talk to the office staff to make those preparations. If you feel nervous, be sure to research the vaccinations your child will receive and educate yourself on why they are so important for your infant and the health of your family. Usually, the only complication your infant may experience from a vaccine is a little redness and irritation at the injection site and, in some cases, a mild fever.

    Now that your baby is 6 weeks old, you might be feeling like a parenting pro. Despite your expertise, it's still a good idea to brush up on some basic baby health and safety necessities this week, like taking an infant CPR class. Many are available for free for new parents at your local hospital.

    How to Do CPR on a Child

    As a new parent, you may be going back to work and have been cleared by your pregnancy care provider at the 6-week check-up. But remember you will be on a postpartum journey for many weeks and months after your baby is born. If you feel you need extra time for anything, whether it’s intercourse or activity, take it. Focus on self-care this week, especially if you are returning back to work. Make sure to:

    • Continue taking your prenatal vitamins if you are breastfeeding.
    • Have a postpartum depression plan in place. Postpartum depression can develop anytime during your baby’s first year of life, but it may begin around this week. Go over the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression with your partner or someone in your life that you trust and review a plan for what to do if the signs develop.
    • Find emotional support. Going back to work can be a very difficult time as you prepare to leave your baby for the first time. Talking about it with other moms who have been there before can help you go through the transition.

    Must Knows

    This week, keep the following tips in mind as you and your baby keep growing this week.

    • Give yourself time: If you're returning to work, it can take some time for you to adjust. The separation will most likely be more difficult for you than your baby, so be sure to surround yourself with support from others who have been through it.
    • Practice self-care: At 6 weeks, you might have received the all-clear to resume your previous activities, but it’s important to continue to practice self-care, take your prenatal vitamins, and get plenty of rest and hydration.
    • Have a plan for postpartum depression: Symptoms of postpartum depression can start sometime between weeks 5 and 6 of your baby’s life and all the way up until their first birthday. Know the signs and symptoms to look for and educate your partner or family member/friend with a plan for what to do if symptoms develop.
    • Do your research on vaccinations: Your baby’s 2 month well-child check-up will include his or her first round of vaccinations, including some combination vaccinations. Be prepared to talk to your pediatrician so you feel confident in making the choice for your baby to get vaccinated.
    • Enjoy that first smile: This week and the coming weeks will bring a very exciting milestone—your baby’s first smile! Soak it in!
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