The sixth month brings with it many new accomplishments for babys and a lot of fun new stuff for parents. This month can also get more difficult than the previous months for many reasons. Your baby is very possibly more mobile now, which immediately makes more work for parents. Your baby now eats baby food on a regular basis, which makes feeding time a lot messier and less simple than bottles. Your baby also likely has developed likes and dislikes, which can also make things slightly more difficult. Even with these difficult parts of the sixth month, though, parents often enjoy this month very much.
Physical Development and Appearance
Physical appearance hasn’t likely changed much from the fifth month to the sixth month. Most babies have already moved up a size in clothes and are officially wearing six-nine month clothes before they ever reach the sixth month. If your baby was not yet wearing these clothes, however, she may very well need to move up a size during this month.
Physical development might have made huge strides over the past month, though. So many things can happen in such a short period of time, it can be hard to even notice what is going on. Many babies will begin to sit up on their own during the sixth month, some will become mobile—this can be by crawling or scooting, some babies will begin cutting teeth, and many babies will begin to actually say words that you can understand, such as “dada.”
Just as with babies in the fifth month, babies at this age can often sit up in walkers or exersaucers, and they can intentionally pick up toys and put them where they want to on a regular basis. Although this will not apply to all babies, many will be able to sit up on their own, possibly even placing themselves in the sitting position (which is a big accomplishment in itself).
Many babies will begin actually intentionally saying words this month. Many times, although mothers are not usually too happy about this, a baby’s first word will be “dada.” Some mothers tend to be bothered by this because they are the one spending all the time with baby, giving baby everything, and then baby says daddy’s name first. But the reason that most babies do this is because of the ease of pronunciation: “dada” is simply easier to say than “mama.”
Once your baby tries to say a word, accomplishes it, and you know what she is saying, this can spark much excitement for both parent and baby. This means that your baby may now begin to try harder to say other words. You may be surprised to see how quickly it seems that your baby is adding words to her vocabulary.
Care for Baby
Skin care—while you may no longer have to worry about dry skin or cradle cap, you may still want to put baby lotion on your baby. This is most likely because your baby no longer has that natural “baby” smell, but you aren’t ready for him to lose it yet. Many parents feel this way and will continue to apply baby lotion after baths until baby is well into the first year or even longer.
Some babies develop eczema by this age, and this is a skin condition that has red itchy patches. If your baby has any type of skin problem at this age, it is best to take him to the doctor to have him checked out. Some skin conditions require lifelong treatment, but even these can get better temporarily with the proper application of medication.
Head care—your baby’s head care will differ greatly this month from earlier months. You no longer need to offer your baby any head support, and the soft spot is getting stronger, but if your baby is mobile, there is a whole new world of things to watch out for.
Mobile babies can now get around on their own, but they do not always do so gracefully. Instead, they tend to run into things, raise their head while crawling and bump into things, etc. This is when protecting your baby’s head becomes a bit more challenging: you need to baby proof your house and watch your baby at all times to prevent injuries.
Teething—the average first tooth comes in at the age of six months. Many babies do not cut a tooth until a few months later, but it is possible you will have to deal with teething in this month. You will usually know that this is what is wrong with your baby because he will begin to drool more than usual, he will chew on things even more than usual (even though you may not have thought this was possible), he will be very cranky, he will possibly be running a low-grade fever, and he might have diarrhea. If your baby displays all of the symptoms above, you should check his gums. If they are red, swollen, and he cries more than usual when you touch them, or if you can see or feel a tooth coming in, then you will know that he is teething. If, however, this isn’t the case, you need to call his doctor just to be sure that he doesn’t have some kind of illness.
If you can tell that your baby is definitely cutting teeth, there are a few ways to you’re your little one with the pain: give him cold or frozen teethers, apply a topical numbing cream or lotion (or you can use teething tablets—some parents say these are better than traditional ointments). In the place of a teether, you can use a frozen waffle (take care to make sure that your baby doesn’t bite any of the pieces off and take it away before it gets soggy) or a frozen popsicle that is unwrapped (this, of course, only applies to those kind in the plastic wrappers).
If your baby is going through the painful experience of teething, it can seem like the crying and sleeplessness will go on forever, but have hope. Usually, although every baby is different, the severe pain will only last two or three days. Then, once the tooth has broken the skin, while your baby may still be feeling some discomfort, he will likely feel a lot better than before.
Bathing—bath time can be a lot of fun for babies of this age. If your baby can crawl, he may be too big for a baby bath tub at this point, and it may be necessary to start using a bathtub ring or a blow-up tub that he can sit in. You should allow your baby to play with toys in the bath tub and splash and have fun for a while because your baby may cry when it is time to get out of the tub. Letting it last a little longer than before can put off this inevitable problem, at for a little while.
Even though your baby is older, and his skin isn’t as sensitive as before, you should continue to use baby shampoos and soaps, towels and washrags, and you should always make sure that the temperature of the water is not too hot or cold. You can purchase a water temperature thermometer at almost any drugstore if need be. This is a little piece of plastic that you can stick in the water and it will let you know if the water is too hot or cold. Using these can prevent not only discomfort, but also pain and possibly even burns.
Diapers—not much will have changed from last month to this month in the matters of diaper size or changes necessary. One difference that might be relevant this month, though, is this: if your baby has recently started crawling, you may have noticed leakages that didn’t happen before. Some diapers work better for active babies than others, so if this is the case, it might be an easily solved problem by just switching diapers to one that has a different type of waist line and elastic around the thighs.
Despite your best efforts, your baby may have developed a diaper rash by this point, as well. The most obvious method of treatment and prevention is to apply the proper medicines and ointments. Another way to prevent and heal any diaper rash that your baby may have developed is to let her air out right after every diaper change. After bath time is another great opportunity to let your baby’s bottom get some air.
Gum care—just as with last month, mainly because you have likely introduced juice into your baby’s diet, you should clean your baby’s gums after every feeding. To prevent tooth decay, you should never let your baby fall asleep to drinking a bottle (whether it is juice or formula). If your baby likes to suckle while going to sleep, you should let him have a dentist-approved pacifier instead.
To clean your baby’s gums, you can use a soft baby wash cloth with just water, or you can purchase a baby gum-cleaning kit from your local drugstore. These often have a finger cover (which may have soft bumps on it that can help relieve painful gums as well) as well as baby-safe toothpaste. Cleaning your baby’s gums may seem pointless, but it is an excellent habit to develop early and continue after getting teeth, not to mention the pain and expense it could save you and your baby later.
If your baby has cut a tooth, or more than one tooth, you will need to begin cleaning that as well. Temporarily, you can just clean it the same way and time you clean your baby’s gums, but soon you will need to purchase a baby toothbrush and baby toothpaste. Toothpaste that is intended for babies is much softer than others and the toothpaste is safer for babies than adult toothpaste. Since babies really don’t know how to spit, and will likely swallow toothpaste at every brushing, it is important to use a kind that is specifically for babies.
Sleep—most babies have developed a habit of sleeping all night by the time they are in their sixth month. If your baby hasn’t, it may be time to make some changes. Otherwise, you could end up getting only as much sleep as you do now for another year or more.
If you are one of those parents who is still suffering through sleepless nights, you can help make changes to this by not allowing your baby any juice past early afternoon (juice has quite a bit of sugar and can keep your baby from sleeping good—you can switch to water instead). Another excellent way to help your baby develop a habit of sleeping through the night is to not allow him to have his late nap of the day. You can also wake your baby early from his last nap, or wake him earlier than normal every morning. It may take a couple of weeks and a cranky baby to completely change his schedule, but you will be thankful you tried when you sleep all night every night.
Eating—the sixth month is just as fun and messy as the fifth month, but possibly even more so. This is because, by now, you probably feed your baby solids at least twice a day. If your baby has developed any teeth, and has learned to actually chew, you may even be giving your baby some snacks intended for babies. These can help keep your baby full for longer and require a much smaller mess. If your baby can sit up, or sit up with assistance, you may have even begun to feed baby in a high chair (up until this point, you likely used a carrier or another place that didn’t require baby sit up).
While the amount of food your baby eats will have a direct reflection on the amount of formula or breast milk that your baby will want, your baby should still receive the majority of his nutrition through formula or breast milk.
When feeding your baby, it is important to give him something to drink, as well. Some parents tend to overlook this, and when they realize it, they often feel bad. Some babies will follow up a meal with the bottle or breast, but this can often be avoided if you allow your baby something to drink while eating. Juice or water works best for this, as formula or breast milk is too thick and will fill baby too quickly.
When you begin introducing new foods to your baby, you will want to watch for any food allergies your baby may have. You can do this by only introducing one new food a day. If possible, you should also make your baby’s food meal the last one of the day. You can feed him while you eat supper, and then give a half a bottle just before bed, or something similar. The trick is to keep your baby full throughout the night. If you do begin by feeding your baby his food early in the day, you will need to start two feedings a day pretty quickly. Once a baby has experienced the full feeling caused by food, he may begin to get hungry more quickly than before, and this may lead to even more sleepless nights.
Illnesses—by the sixth month, it is possible that your baby has been sick a time or two. While there is no real way to prevent this from happening (no matter how much you try), you can try to at least make it easier on your baby when she does get sick.
One of the best ways to do this is to keep a lot of different types of medicine on hand at all times. Luckily, medicines don’t usually expire for a long time, sometimes years, so you are able to keep them around without fear of them going bad before you can use them.
Some of the best types of medicines to have around at all times for your baby are cold and flu medicines for babies, pain relievers/fever reducers (it is best to keep both acetaminophen as well as ibuprofen on hand, because you can use both at the same time), stomach medicines, allergy medicines, and more.
You really can’t have too much medicine around just in case you need it. This can make the illness your baby may have at least a little easier to deal with for both you and your baby, and it is something every parent will be glad they did when the time is necessary to use some of the medication—this is especially true if the illness begins in the middle of the night).
Toys for this age—the types of toys your baby can play with and enjoy at this age will vary from baby to baby, depending on your baby’s abilities. If your baby is crawling, she will likely enjoy playing with anything that she actually discovers on her own (and she will enjoy it even more if it is not something she is supposed to be playing with). as for real toys, your baby probably still loves rattlers and stuffed animals at this point, and boy babies usually already enjoy trucks while girls tend to love dolls.
Other things your baby may love include toys to play in, such as a jumper, exersaucer to walker. Many babies, by the sixth month, will have decided that they no longer like their baby swing while others may still enjoy it.
New abilities—many babies, as mentioned above, begin to crawl around the sixth month. Not all babies will do this, and it is important to realize that babies will do everything in their own time, and that it is no reflection on their intelligence. Your baby may be sitting up or not at this age, and he may be crawling, scooting, or simply lying in one spot as happy as a clam. Whatever your baby is doing at this point, it can almost always be considered normal, because there is no true standard of what is normal.
Your baby may be calling you by name at this point using one or two teeth, or he may not say anything more than “gaa” using nothing but gums.
Since there is such a difference in what a baby may or may not be able to do at the six month mark, it is more important to revel in what your baby is doing, rather than compare him to what other babies are doing.
Parents—there are a few very important things that should take place during baby’s sixth month, if not before. One of these things is to baby proof your house. You should crawl around on all fours looking for any and every tiny thing that your baby might find interesting. You should cover outlets, hide cords, lock toilets and cabinets, etc. Even though it may seem like these are a long time away from posing a problem, even if your baby hasn’t started really crawling yet, it is important to do it now. Once your baby does start crawling, you would be surprised at how quickly they get very good and quick at it.
Another thing is to make your home as safe as possible for your mobile baby by covering corners of coffee tables, etc. This can keep your baby from bumping his head while crawling. Investing in baby gates, especially if you have a staircase, fireplace, or other dangerous area in your home, is an excellent idea.
Another thing to be aware of is that babies who become mobile usually do not like being restrained. This may mean that your little one tries to crawl out of carseats, carriers, swings, playpens, bouncers, etc. If this is the case, you need to make certain that your child is always restrained in these properly to prevent injuries.
Once you have done the above to keep your little one safe, you can concentrate more on videotaping and taking pictures of his wonderful new abilities.