Baby Tips

What Is the Physical Development of a 6-Month-Old Baby?

You may find it hard to believe, but you’ve made it halfway through your infant’s first year! In just six short months, your baby has started to learn how to communicate and eat solid foods.

Notice your baby doing anything new? Significant strides in development happen this month. That’s because the left side of the brain is now “talking” to the right side of the brain. Your baby may begin to rock back and forth to prepare for crawling by moving the arms and legs together or pass a toy from one hand to the other. My Baby Nursery has the best baby nursery products to help create your dream baby room.

Doctors use milestones to tell if a baby is developing as expected. There’s a wide range of what’s considered normal so that some children may gain skills earlier or later than others. Babies who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your baby’s progress.

Physical Milestones

Here are some of the physical development milestones

you can expect in the first six months:

First month:

  • weight may drop after birth but will be regained
  • hand, arm, leg, and rooting movements are all reflex motions
  • head flops if not supported
  • focuses eyes at 18 to 45 cm
  • stares at high contrast patterns and objects but does not reach
  • recognizes mother’s voice
  • startles at noise

Second month:

  • muscles relax and twitch less
  • lifts head about 45 degrees while lying on tummy
  • hands start to unfold
  • may reach and grasp an object for a short time
  • eyes move in unison and can track close moving objects
  • may roll over one way

Third month:

  • stretches out arms and legs
  • rolls over from back to the side
  • holds head up to search for sounds and movement
  • discovers feet and hands
  • holds objects longer
  • swipes with arms
  • briefly bears weight on legs
  • responds to detailed, high contrast objects
  • cuts first tooth (third to the sixth month or later)

Fourth month:

  • stands up and holds weight with the help
  • rolls from front to side
  • lifts head about 90 degrees
  • sits with arms propped
  • reaches for objects
  • holds hands together

Fifth month:

  • rolls over from front to back
  • grabs toes and feet
  • wiggles forward on the floor
  • reaches with a good aim
  • transfers objects from hand to hand

Sixth month:

  • holds head steady
  • sits with back straight when propped
  • grasps small objects and studies them
  • rolls in both directions
  • understands that things may be hiding behind one another

Sixth Month Baby Milestones

Growth

During the first few months of life, your baby was growing at a rate of about 1 ½ to 2 pounds a month. By now, they should have at least doubled their birth weight. At six months, the baby’s growth will slow to about 1 pound a month. Height gain will also slow, to almost a half-inch each month.

Motor Skills

Baby Tips

  • begins to push up to a crawling position and possibly rock back and forth on the knees
  • sits with support
  • stands with help and, from a standing position, bounces up and down with support
  • passes an object from one hand to the other
  • newborn reflexes (like the grasp reflex) go away
  • reaches for and grabs things using a raking grasp (using the fingers to rake at and pick up items)
  • rolls over both ways (back to front, front to back)

Your baby may be starting to sit up alone by six months. To get ready, babies first prop themselves up with their hands, but they can begin to let go and sit unsupported over time.

Your 6-month-old can probably roll from their back to their stomach and vice versa. Some babies can propel themselves around the floor using this rolling method. Or, they may creep forward or backward — sliding around on their tummies while pushing against the floor. You may notice your baby rise on hands and knees and rock back and forth.

Tips for parents

  • Leave her favourite toys nearby so she can reach them by rolling over.

Sleep

Most babies are sleeping six to eight hours at a stretch by six months. When babies at this age have trouble falling or staying asleep, some parents turn to a method developed by pediatrician Richard Ferber. The Ferber Method, as it is known, involves putting your baby into the crib while they are still awake. If your baby cries, wait for a progressively more extended period each night before going in to provide comfort. This method works well for some families, but you may need to experiment with several different sleep methods before finding the one that works best for you.

Now that your baby can roll over independently, don’t be alarmed if you put them to sleep on their back and they wake up on their tummy. The risk of SIDS is much lower at six months than it was in the first few months of life. Still, it’s a good idea to keep stuffed animals, pillows, crib bumpers, and other soft items out of the crib for now.

The Senses

You may notice that your baby’s eyes have changed from their birth colour. Lighter-coloured eyes may go through several shifts before settling on their final shade at about six months. If your baby still has blue eyes now, chances are they’ll stay that way permanently.

The nerves in babies’ mouths are much better developed than their fingertips, so placing anything — and everything — into the mouth can provide babies with more information than holding something. Babies may suck on their thumbs, fingers, and even their toes to soothe themselves, especially when they’re hungry or tired.

Eating

If you haven’t started your baby on solid foods already, your pediatrician will likely recommend that you do so at six months. Begin with an iron-fortified cereal mixed with breast milk or formula. As your baby adjusts to solids, introduce pureed fruits and vegetables one at a time. Please wait a few days each time you try something new to ensure they aren’t allergic to it.

If your baby doesn’t seem to like new food, wait a few days and then try it again. Babies are fickle creatures, and their tastes can change from one day to the next.

Introduce foods one at a time to monitor for any reactions such as rash, diarrhea, or vomiting. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, no evidence introducing foods such as eggs and fish after 4-6 months of age increases the risk of food allergies; the AAP recommends introducing allergenic foods early in most cases. However, wait to give your baby honey until age one because it can carry the bacteria that cause botulism. Cow’s milk should also not be delivered until your baby is at least one year old, although products made with cow’s milk, such as yogurt or soft cheese, are acceptable. 

What mealtimes look like at six months.

  • He is showing an interest in food and opens his mouth when spoon-fed.
  • He is moving food from the front to the back of his mouth when he chews.
  • Is starting to eat cereals and single-ingredient pureed foods like carrots, sweet potato and pears.

Tips for parents

  • At six months, your baby needs more than breastmilk alone. Start giving him just 2 or 3 spoonfuls of soft food four times a day. My Baby Nursery is your one-stop baby product store.

Communication

  • blows raspberries and begin to pronounce consonants like “ba,” “da,” and “ga.”
  • starts to babble (“babababa”)
  • begins to recognize his or her name
  • understands a few words, such as “bath.”
  • uses his or her voice to get attention and express feelings

Your 6-month-old baby should be smiling, laughing, and babbling away (“ma-ma,” “ba-ba”). To help them learn the language, read stories together every night.

Babies at this age are starting to recognize the people and things around them. Your baby will begin to feel comfortable with the familiar — mommy, daddy, grandma, and grandpa, as well as a few of their favourite toys. You might see the first signs of fear when they are with strange people or in new situations.

Tips for parents

  • Engage in playful conversations with your baby: Create a serve-and-return interaction by repeating back to hear the sounds she makes.
  • Familiarize your baby with her name by using it frequently. 

Social and Emotional Development

Some of the ways you’ll see your little one learning to connect with the people around him at six months.

  • She is usually happy and responds to the emotions of others.
  • They are starting to differentiate between familiar faces and strangers.
  • Enjoys playing with you and others.
  • He has fun looking at himself in a mirror.
  • recognizes and responds happily to familiar faces,
  • startles at loud noises and might cry in fear
  • is socially active, smiles to attract your attention, and responds to you when you interact
  • expresses happiness, pleasure, sadness, and displeasure (anger)

Tips for parents

  • Talk to your baby about what is going on around him in a sweet tone. 
  • Include a child-friendly or plastic mirror with his toys so he can watch his movements.
  • Start playing more body games like peek-a-boo.

Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)

Your child’s brain is growing! 

  • He is curious: He looks at objects nearby and tries to grab those out of reach. 
  • He passes things from one hand to the other and brings his hands to his mouth.
  • “mouths” toys and other items to get a better understanding of the environment
  • reaches for anything (and everything!) in view
  • moves in the direction they want to go (for example, when your baby sees you walk into the room, his or her arms go up, and your baby leans toward you)
  • looks at the floor after dropping a toy, showing they understand where it fell

Tips for parents

  • Provide your baby with toys that are easy to pick up with one hand.
  • Have conversations with your baby about different objects he is putting into his mouth.

Play and Activity

Baby Tips

Babies love to play – there’s so much you can do to foster your baby’s physical growth and development through play and activity:

  • Always supervise your baby to prevent falling.
  • Hold the things you want your baby to see close to her eyes so she can focus clearly.
  • Have lots of supervised tummy time so your baby can kick and move. Offer clean rattles and toys that your baby can feel and mouth.
  • Provide a variety of noise-making toys and objects and place them within the batting range.
  • Play in front of a mirror with your baby.
  • Create safe play spaces on the floor.
  • Take lots of walks with your baby in the fresh air.
  • Provide safe, clean, chewable toys.
  • Everything will go in your baby’s mouth – make sure objects are big enough that they cannot be swallowed.
  • Extend bath time so your baby can kick and squeal while you supervise. Never leave your baby alone in the bath.
  • Baby proof your home so that everything harmful is out of the way.

Going Back to Work

You may be lucky enough to have a friend or relative nearby to babysit. If not, here are a few tips for choosing a safe and trustworthy childcare provider:

  • Visit several childcare centres. Spend as much time as possible at each one to get a feel for what your baby might experience there. If you’re able, drop in unannounced so you can see how the centre runs when they’re not prepared for a visit.
  • Check to make sure that the facility provides a clean, safe environment. There should be no obvious safety hazards — such as dangling cords, open outlets, or small toys — and emergency procedures should be posted.
  • Ask about the ratio of staff members to children. The fewer children per staff member, the better. Each state’s requirement for licensed childcare centres varies, but most stipulate no more than three to six babies for every one childcare worker.
  • Find out about the background of every person who will be watching your child. Ensure the facility conducts careful background checks of all their employees, from the childcare workers to the maintenance people.
  • Ask to look at the written policies that explain when a child may or may not attend daycare because of being sick, including rashes, fever or diarrhea.
  • Find out what the requirements are for vaccinations.
  • Ask what foods you should provide for your baby and what foods might be supplied by the daycare. If you want to give all of your baby’s food, ask if that is acceptable and what you need to provide.

Tips for Baby’s Sixth Month

  • Be on the lookout for signs that your baby is not hitting significant milestones, like babbling, sitting unassisted, smiling, making eye contact, or responding to sounds. If you’re concerned they have missed any milestone, call your pediatrician.
  • Some babies bang their heads or rock their bodies. It’s normal, provided they aren’t hurting themselves or doing it for hours at a time.
  • Play peek-a-boo and similar games with your baby. It will help teach the idea of object permanence — that objects still exist, even when they’re out of sight.
  • Place toys just out of reach on the floor to encourage your baby to start crawling.
  • If you have older children, make sure to put away toys with tiny pieces to prevent your baby from choking.

Things to look out for

While all babies develop differently, you should speak to your paediatrician immediately if your 6-month-old:

  • Doesn’t show affection to parents or caregivers.
  • Won’t respond to nearby sounds.
  • Doesn’t laugh.
  • She has a hard time getting things into her mouth.
  • Doesn’t make vowel sounds.
  • Seems too floppy or too stiff.
  • You can’t roll over in either direction.
  • Doesn’t attempt to grab objects nearby.

These are critical months. Don’t hesitate to get help from your doctor or community health nurse if:

  • your baby is unhappy or unsettled much of the time
  • you are sad or anxious much of the time
  • your baby is not turning to look for you when you speak
  • your baby is not smiling and cooing even some of the time
  • your baby is not kicking his legs
  • You and your baby just aren’t getting on together as well as you would like.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Every baby develops at its own pace. But if anything concerns you — however small — share it with your doctor. Always tell the doctor if your baby:

  • shows little interest in others and rarely smiles or “talks.”
  • makes little eye contact
  • does not move an object from one hand to the other
  • can’t sit up with support
  • has trouble eating purées by spoon (for example, pushes food out of the mouth instead of swallowing)
  • Also, if you ever notice that your baby has lost skills or shows weakness on one side of the body, tell your doctor.

Conclusion

Your baby’s come a long way in their first six months. They’re probably now a very social being who loves being with you and having fun together. By now, you’ve learned enough of your baby’s ways and messages to respond correctly – most of the time. Hopefully, early problems such as feeding difficulties and crying have settled down. By 3 or 6 months, your baby is beginning to get an idea about being in the world, and you’re getting to know each other. They’ll be happily looking into your eyes, and you’ll be smiling at each other. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.

Scroll to Top