Your baby is half a year old, and that’s nothing but mind-blowing, right? Eating solids, sitting up and starting to (kind of) talk now—and is that kid crawling?! Somehow that newborn you brought home from the hospital has become a big, bouncing baby in just six months, all while you discovered the weak spots in your relationship, the stress of mat-leave finances and the limits of sleep deprivation. But you’ve found surprising strengths, too: the skill to change a diaper without thought, the ability to text with one thumb, the coordination to eat (and pee) with a baby on your lap, and the unfathomable love of your life.
6-month-old development & milestones
Your baby is now probably able to sit propped up or with the help of their hands. And though their back muscles will soon be strong enough to sit up straight without support, sudden moves may still see them toppling over, so it’s a good time to invest in a large play mat to cushion their falls. Their rolling skills will continue to develop as well.
There are lots of milestones this month, and many of them have to do with reaching and grasping. Is your baby swiping at objects within view, bringing their hands or toys to their mouth, banging or splashing with their fingers and fists, and patting (or grabbing) your face, hair or glasses? Some other goals this month are about communication: smiling in response to attention, responding to their name, turning and looking toward a new sound, and babbling and vocalizing when they’re happy or sad. Take a look at the Nipissing District Developmental Screen to see where your baby is on the checklist.
The benefits of baby sign languageYour baby may be babbling, but they’re still a long way from words. Still, if you think back to how little you understood about your newborn’s communication compared to how much you understand now without a word spoken, it’s amazing how far you’ve both come. Your baby “talks” to you all day long with cries, coos, smiles and sighs.
At six months, your baby may be crawling—or getting close—or may never manage standard baby locomotion, choosing to scoot, roll or skip straight to walking instead. If your baby is frustrated by their lack of mobility or you’d like to help them along, more tummy time may do the trick. You can also help by putting them in a “four-point” stance—belly off the ground and ready to crawl—especially if you’ve put their favourite toy just out of reach. Rocking back and forth in this position is a sure sign that they’re ready to launch. And then look out: They’ll be up the stairs, out the door, into the fridge or in the litter box before you can say “Peekaboo!”
Sleep and feeding schedule for your six- to nine-month-old baby It’s time for another well-baby visit and a round of immunizations (typically the same ones administered at two and four months, so you should know what to expect in terms of your baby’s reaction). Your baby’s healthcare practitioner will also want to check their weight, height and head circumference and ask about their eating and sleeping routines. They will also look at developmental milestones, as well as social and emotional issues.Besides the usual checklist, it’s a good time to ask the doctor any questions you have, so don’t forget to jot them down beforehand.
6-month growth spurt
Is your baby hangrier than usual? Hungry well before you expect, cranky at every turn and splitting the seams of their onesie? Make way for the six-month growth spurt—and this one is a doozy! As your baby gets used to solids and ups their intake of calories, growth follows quickly, which may mean that they’re sleeping like a log or up all night wanting to eat more. If you’re breastfeeding, your milk production will pick up to help meet your baby’s demands, and bottle-fed and formula-fed babies may want bigger bottles now. Solids can take the pressure off drinking, though, so now is a good time to try new foods—and retry ones that your baby rejected when they weren’t so hungry!
If you haven’t wholeheartedly committed to starting solids, you should do so now. While this has traditionally meant spooning a glop of purée into your baby’s mouth, you might also consider letting your baby try what you’re eating, more or less. Baby-led weaning and feeding is about skipping the purées and giving your baby soft and safe finger foods to gum on, with the idea that a little texture can’t hurt. The approach claims to promote better long-term eating behaviours, but studies are mixed, so talk to your doctor about how your baby can get the most nutrients, including iron. The choice doesn’t have to be binary: Offering purées, as well as a steamed broccoli floret or a soft French-fry-sized piece of chicken, can give your baby some control over what they want to try and free up your hands to enjoy your own meal. (Remember when you ate food that was still hot? No, not really?)
Introducing water and cups
With the start of solids (or more dedication to them) at six months, now is also the time to begin offering water in an open-top cup so that your baby can move from sucking to sipping at mealtimes. Sippy cups are fine for on-the-go, but only use them for water, not juice, as this can lead to babies and toddlers mindlessly consuming sugary drinks. The same goes for cow’s milk down the road. At this stage, your baby’s milk still needs to be breastmilk or formula. They’ll still get most of their calories from the bottle or breast, but the introduction of cups will start to expand your baby’s drinking skills beyond the nipple.
Solids and stools
Oh crap, have you noticed what solids have done for your baby’s bowel movements? The bad news/good news breakdown of your baby’s expanding palate is that their stools are stinkier and less liquidy. The fairly inoffensive smell of a breastfed baby’s diaper is gone forever once solids start to make up a bigger part of your baby’s diet, and there’s less of a chance of a liquid blowout from the newborn months. Your baby may also become gassier as their digestive system adjusts to strange new foods.
At six months, many babies have dropped from three naps to two—a schedule that may last until or past their first birthdays. The somewhat reliable schedule of a morning playtime, followed by a mid-morning nap, lunch, more play and a mid-afternoon nap, means you now have at least two chances for an outing and a social life. But it also means that your baby may crash, exhausted, at bedtime. How’s sleeping through the night working out? Transitioning to fewer naps may mean that you’re all more tired at night, and sleep training may becoming increasingly alluring as you search for a solid seven or eight hours yourself. What method will work for you and your baby?
Your life after baby
To train or not to train?
Knowing all the various sleep-training methods may not help with the decision of whether to try it or when, but some doctors say that six to 12 months is the sweet spot, so it may be time to figure it out soon. Read one mom’s approach to the process, as well as some dos and don’ts. And know that you’re not evil if you sleep-train.
If your period hasn’t returned since your baby arrived, it may be just around the corner, and there’s a chance it won’t be anything like it was before baby. While menstruation can resume anytime from 10 weeks after birth (unfair!) to a year after you stop breastfeeding (how’s that for motivation to keep going with the boob?), the timing can vary wildly and take months to return to the normal you once knew.
Stuff no one tells you
Arsenic in baby food
You’ve seen the headlines, but have you been afraid to read them? A recent study found arsenic, lead and mercury in baby food and formula, with rice cereal being one of the worst culprits. It’s really too early to know how dangerous the problem is, so what are worried parents to do? Keeping your baby on a diverse diet is your best bet.
Hazards in the home
Start babyproofing! The stairs are an obvious risk, and you have the cleaners and medicines locked up, right? Have you considered cables, cords, windows and button batteries? These are the eight worst hazards for kids in your home.
Baby gates and safety must-haves
Now that your baby is mobile, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your baby gates are up to standard. Here’s how to make sure your safety is up to snuff.
Just for fun
Breastmilk ice lollies and baby food hacks
If you’re still breastfeeding and your baby is teething, this mom has a hack for you!
After the puréed pears and rice cereal come stage two and stage three baby dinners, which can really up the ick factor of jarred baby food. Here are seven family dinners with enough flavour and texture to tempt any age—and they won’t suffer much from being puréed.