Your 6-Week-Old Baby’s Milestones & Development

When your baby hits the 6-week mark, it can feel as though an entire lifetime has passed since they were born. You’ve already been through so much together! But it’s also common to feel like you’re still getting your footing as a parent. After all, each day with a baby is filled with new challenges and surprises.

Around 6 weeks, your baby is due for another major growth spurt, which can really throw you off. All of a sudden, your content little mush wants to eat all the time and is extra fussy. Many parents end up feeling taken back by their baby’s growth spurt, but in due time, your baby will settle down … and you might notice that their clothes are a bit tighter too!

Besides all that growing, your baby will hit some exciting milestones this week, and you will probably have all sorts of questions about your baby’s feeding, sleep, health, and care. Read on for details about all of those topics, and more.

At This Age

  • Development: Your baby will start to become more interactive this week, and will likely start to have some real social smiles.
  • Sleep: Your baby won’t be sleeping through the night yet, but should be consolidating more of their sleep at night by now.
  • Food: Your baby will still be eating very frequently, but may be able to space their feedings out a little more at this age.
6-week old baby milestones and development
Illustration by Joshua Seong, Verywell

6-Week-Old Baby Development

You’ve probably noticed in the past few weeks that your baby has been starting to have more periods of alertness and awareness. Well, this week will take things up a notch or two, and you may notice your baby becoming more social.

“As they get closer to the 2-month mark, they start becoming a little more interactive,” says Gina Posner, MD, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA.

Dr. Posner says your baby has been able to recognize you really since they were born, but starting this week, you may notice them turning toward you more consistently when they hear your voice. This uptick in socializing will be very exciting for both you and your baby, and you can enhance this by playing with your baby, talking to them, and making funny noises for them to respond to.

As with everything about raising a baby, the exciting moments are also balanced by some challenges. Around this time, your baby is having a growth spurt, which may mean that they are feeding more frequently. They may be clustering their feeds together in the evenings and may be acting fussier then too.

Couple that with the fact that crying and colic tend to peak at around six weeks, and you might have some difficult evenings during this time. Hang in there. Most babies start to get a little less moody as they get closer to 2 months, and babies usually outgrow colic by 3 months.

Your baby continues to put on weight at a rate of 1.5-2 pounds a month. Your baby is growing in length, too, about an inch taller each month. Their head circumference is growing about ½ inch per month. That means that by the end of their first two months, they will be about 4 pounds heavier than they were at birth.

Keep in mind that all babies are different when it comes to growth. Some babies put on weight faster than others, and some are slower. What matters most is that they are growing against their own growth curve, are healthy, and are meeting milestones.

6-Week-Old Baby Milestones

With all the increasing socializing this week, you are likely to witness a very exciting milestone this month: your baby’s first smile. Yes, your baby may have smiled in their sleep a few times when they were just a few weeks old, but this week, your baby may have their first social smile.

If your baby isn’t smiling yet, that’s okay too. The first smile usually happens by the time your baby is 2 months old, so it’s normal if your baby isn’t quite there. If you are hoping that your baby will break out into a smile soon, try making funny faces or silly noises near your baby. Remember, you are your baby’s favorite person right now, and if anyone can make them smile, it’s you.

Besides those first smiles, your baby is getting more and more adept at holding objects in their hands. They may still drop those objects after a short time, but you may find that your baby can hold a rattle, or a set of toy keys, for longer periods of time now. Your baby is also more able to distinguish different sounds—they can recognize your voice now. They are also starting to see colors more clearly.

According to Christina Johns, MD, pediatrician and senior medical advisor at PM Pediatrics, there are few activities you can do to enhance these new and emerging skills. “It’s a great idea to talk regularly to your baby—read and sing and start to expose them to different colors and sounds,” she offers.

Additional Behaviors

There are several other exciting milestones your baby is either doing now or moving toward doing, including:

  • If you put your baby on their belly, they will lift their head and look around.
  • Your baby may start to coo or make other vowel sounds.
  • Your baby may start studying their hands and more deliberately move them to their mouth.
  • Your baby will follow light, objects, and people as they move across a room.
  • Your baby may start to have different cries for hunger, boredom, tiredness, etc.

6-Week-Old Baby Feeding

At this point, you’ve probably established a feeding routine for your baby, and are getting into the flow of things. Babies this age still tend to eat very frequently, but may be starting to extend the intervals between feedings a little more than they did when they were younger. For example, newborns may need to eat every 2-3 hours, but as they get older, they may be able to go 3-4 hours between feedings, according to the Academy of American Pediatrics.

Still, all babies are different, and if your baby is still feeding very frequently, that’s totally fine. “Some babies will space out feedings at this age, but others are still demanding every two hours,” Dr. Posner explains.

Breastfed babies, in particular, may still need to eat as frequently as every 2-3 hours, because breastmilk is digested faster than formula. It’s usually advised that you continue to breastfeed your baby on demand at this age, to keep your milk supply up, and to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat.

Again, six weeks is also a growth spurt for many babies, so you will probably notice that your baby seems hungrier than usual. Often, during a growth spurt, babies become especially fussy during the evening. They may cluster their feedings together, seeming to want to eat every hour.

As the saying goes, “This too shall pass.” If you are breastfeeding, you may think that all this extra feeding is a sign that you don’t have enough milk for your baby. But that’s not the case. Your baby breastfeeds more frequently during a growth spurt to help increase your supply so it can meet their needs. Your body and your baby know just what to do, so try to trust the process.

6-Week-Old Baby Sleep

Your baby is still sleeping upwards of 15 hours in a 24 hour period. As time goes on, your baby should be starting to have more of that sleep occur at night, and less of it during the day. In time, your baby will do the bulk of their sleeping at night, and their daytime sleep will be broken into three or four naps. Your baby may not be there yet, but they are gradually progressing toward that.

Your baby is not sleeping through the night yet (which is defined by a 6-8 hour stretch of sleep in the first few months of life), but some babies may be getting closer to that reality. Many parents are wondering if they still need to wake their baby up to feed at this age.

There’s some good news in that department, says Dr. Posner. “As long as they are gaining weight well, I let them sleep as long as they want (preferably at night).”

Of course, if your baby is still waking to feed, it’s important to let them do so at this age since they still have a lot of important growing to do. Breastfed babies, in particular, usually need to feed at least once during the night at this age, and many are waking to feed multiple times a night.

6-Week-Old Baby Schedule

With your baby’s newfound skills of smiling and wanting to interact more, you can start adding some actual activities into your days (baby-centered activities, that is!). Yes, it’s true that your day will still revolve around eating, sleeping, and diaper changes, but when your baby is awake and alert, now is a good time to do some playing.

Babies this age love to take walks outside in the stroller, they may enjoy some tummy time in a play gym or activity center, and they may even start to enjoy some baby toys. Toys for this age group are usually brightly colored, may make noises when squeezed, and are just the right size for your baby to practice their grabbing skills.

6-Week-Old Baby Health and Safety

Your baby won’t be having another checkup until the 2-month mark, but that’s coming up soon. If you haven’t made your appointment for your baby’s 2-month checkup, you should do so now.

Vaccinations

During this upcoming visit, your baby will get their first set of immunizations. If your baby didn’t receive their second hepatitis B vaccine at their 1-month checkup, they will be receiving it at their 2-month check-up. Additionally, your baby will likely receive their pneumococcal, DTaP, Hib, and polio vaccines. They may also receive their rotavirus vaccine, which is an oral vaccine.

It’s common for new parents to have questions about vaccines, especially what side effects they may have on their baby. In general, babies usually experience soreness at the injection site and sometimes have mild fevers. You can ask your pediatrician how you will be able to soothe your baby after their shots. Usually, an over-the-counter painkiller can be given to your baby if they need it. Discuss options and dosages with your pediatrician.

6-Week-Old Baby Care Basics

If you are considering returning to work in the past few weeks, you probably have this transition on your mind. If you are a breastfeeding parent, now is a good time to try introducing a bottle to your baby, and feeding it to them about once a day so that they can get used to it. It is also a good time to start pumping your milk and storing it in preparation for your return to work.

Many parents want to know when they should pump their milk if they are still breastfeeding their baby around the clock. It’s good to pump in between sessions, and many parents will choose to pump in the morning, when they tend to have the most milk.

Either way, keep in mind that if you pump consistently each day, your body will end up making enough milk to feed your baby, and so that you can store it for later. You will want to label your milk with the date you pumped it and store it in the freezer for future use.

What Else to Know About Your 6-Week-Old Baby

At 6 weeks old, you are still in a phase with your baby marked by increasing crying, fussiness, and colicky symptoms. In fact, 6 weeks is a peak week of colic. Your baby is probably doing most of their fussing and crying in the evening hours, which are often known as “the witching hour.”

Dr. Johns says that witching hour is common in babies, but can be really frustrating for parents. There are certain activities that your baby might find soothing, like going for a ride in the car (in their car seat, of course). You can also try some “white noise” like running a vacuum or a white noise machine to calm your baby, says Dr. Johns.

Ultimately, you have to make sure to take care of yourself as well as your baby. “It’s important for parents to take care of themselves first,” says Dr. Johns. “If a baby has been fed and changed, it’s OK for a parent to put their baby down safely in their crib for a moment even if they are crying to collect themselves and take a quick break before resuming efforts to settle the baby.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should my baby be doing at 6 weeks old?

    Your baby will start to be more social at this age, and may even have their first real smile.

  • Do 6-week-olds recognize mom?

    Yes! Babies can recognize their mothers at this age, as well as anyone who cares for them.

  • What should I do with my 6-week-old while they're awake?

    Your baby will enjoy games like peek-a-boo, listening to singing and funny noises, as well as brightly colored patterns.

  • Can babies laugh at 6 weeks?

    Most babies aren’t laughing yet, but you might hear some cooing starting now.

  • How long should a 6-week-old sleep?

    Most babies this age sleep about 15 hours in a 24 hour period.

  • How do I play with my 6-week-old baby?

    Babies just really enjoy being with their parents at this age, and don’t require much besides some interaction and eye contact.

  • Why do babies cry the most at 6 weeks?

    Colic tends to peak at 6 weeks, and is usually because of the many neurological and developmental changes your baby is going through.

  • What toys are good for a 6-week-old?

    Six-week-old babies like small toys like rattles that they can practice holding.

A Word From Verywell

At this stage, you may be feeling a certain amount of impatience mixed in with all the joys you are experiencing with your baby. You may be wondering when your baby will finally sleep through the night, stop being so fussy, and stop needing to feed seemingly all the time.

These concerns are common and totally valid! It’s not easy parenting a 6-week-old baby, and you may be feeling exhausted by their growth spurt and evening fussiness. You should know that you are not a bad parent if you are finding this phase especially trying—it’s OK to feel this way.

If you are finding that you are experiencing heightened feelings of depression or anxiety, you might consider getting screened for postpartum depression, as symptoms can still present themselves at this stage. If you have any questions about your baby’s growing, feeding needs, or development, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician.

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.
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11 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.
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