Six months of age is a huge time for a baby. They learn to do so many new things, from crawling to sitting by themselves, from uttering certain sounds to playing on their own. And they also keep on developing, both physically and mentally. They grow into amazing human beings with their own character, their individuality, and their view of the world. And what's the role of parents at this stage? It's to facilitate this process and make it as comfortable and as nurturing as possible for the baby.
It means that when our babies turn 6 months old, there is a range of things that we should start doing, as well as a number of other things that we should stop doing. For example, to contribute to their development, we need to take our time to begin reading to them and talking to them. To help them sit on their own, we should stop holding them all the time. We should also start introducing new foods and stop having too many guests at home.
So now we're going to talk about what we should (and shouldn't) do when the baby turns 6 months young. Hopefully, this guide will inspire moms and make them more creative when it comes to helping children grow into healthy and strong individuals.
20 Stop Holding The Baby While They're Sitting
At 6 months of age, your baby is probably able to sit by themselves, because their back muscles become much stronger. Perhaps, they aren't yet able to get into the sitting position on their own, but they surely can maintain balance when they're already sitting, so there's no need to support their backs. In fact, parents aren't even recommended to do it, because the baby needs their special exercises to see what they can do by themselves. It'll help them in the long run.
But it doesn't mean that you shouldn't watch your baby sitting at this point. They still haven't mastered their skill and they need your help if they suddenly topple over.
19 Start Babyproofing The House
When your baby turns 6 months young, it's high time to start babyproofing the house to make sure that it's completely safe for the baby. After all, the baby will start crawling all over the house and you can't be 100% attentive all the time to make sure that they won't fall, pull at the cords, eat something they're not supposed to eat, etc.
So ensure that you've taken all possible safety measures. Lock up all medicines and cleaners, cover all cords, get safety straps that'll prevent your baby from opening drawers, use cordless blinds on your windows, and make sure that all small objects your baby can accidentally swallow are out of reach.
18 Stop Putting Toys Right In Front Of Them
Your baby is up for the challenge! But it's a good challenge that will help them develop better. What's the use of always having toys in front of your eyes and easily catching them with a slight movement of the arm? In fact, there's much more benefit in making your baby work a bit harder to get their toys once in a while.
So try putting your baby's toys in their peripheral vision or place them a bit farther from your little one. In this case, they'll have to focus more and think over whether they want to get this toy or not. If they want to, they'll be determined to do it, which will show them that they can attain their goals with a bit of determination. Besides, this simple trick will also make your baby's vision better and get them moving.
17 Start Introducing New Foods
At 6 months of age, your baby is finally ready for starting to eat solid foods. Their digestive system is all set for it at this point, they also start developing biting and chewing reflex, and their sense of taste becomes sharper, thus motivating them to try new things.
WebMD says that it's better to start the process "with an iron-fortified cereal mixed with [breastmilk] or formula." You should get a specific nutrition plan from your pediatrician based on the unique needs of your baby.
But be ready for one less pleasant thing that comes along with the introduction of solids. Your baby's stools are likely to become stinkier and less liquidy and they'll never come back to the okay smell of a breastfed baby's diaper.
16 Stop Feeding So Frequently
In case you have started introducing solids to your baby, you can begin to gradually decrease the number of times you breastfeed or bottle-feed them. But if you don't want to give solids to your little one yet, stick to the same feeding schedule for the time being. The choice is yours and, of course, you should always discuss it with your pediatrician to see what's best for your baby.
According to The Bump, it's enough to breastfeed your baby every 3 to 4 hours at this stage. If you feed them with formula, you can offer it about six times per day. When it comes to solids, start with giving it to them three times per day.
15 Start Using Sippy Cups
Six months of age is the time you should introduce your baby to drinking water. Before then, they received enough liquids from your milk or formula, but now they also need plain water, like all of us, human beings. But don't give this water in a bottle. Offer it in a sippy cup, because, according to Today's Parent, it'll enable your baby to move from sucking to sipping at mealtimes.
Avoid giving juices or other sugary drinks to your baby at this stage, because you don't want them to get a sweet tooth so early. Limit the usage of a sippy cup to water and only water.
14 Stop Feeling Guilty As A Working Mom
A mom should never feel guilty about going back to work, especially when there are no other options for her. After all, she needs to provide for her child and she needs money for it. Besides, it's good for a mamma to get a little break from parenting once in a while.
So don't worry that your little one will feel abandoned and make sure that you can find a good caregiver, who will also bond with your child. According to WebMD, if you don't have a friend or relative to leave your baby with, you should do thorough research to find the people you can trust. It can be a babysitter or someone working at a childcare center. Just make sure that your baby will feel nice and comfortable with them and get back to work.
13 Start Using Music
According to multiple studies, there's a link between music and cognitive development in babies. The period starting from the time when they're still in the womb to two years of age is the period when they have the greatest growth, as well as the time when their listening-based learning comes to its peak. So if you still haven't introduced your baby to the sounds of music, 6 months of age is the high time to start!
To make you even more incentivized to turn on some of your favorite pieces for your kid, let me tell you that a recent study from Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences showed that playing music actually makes babies smarter!
12 Stop Letting The Baby Cry For Too Long
Whether parents should let their kid cry it out or not has long been a debatable topic. But, according to Psychology Today, if you've been thinking that it's a good thing to do, it's better if you switch sides at 6 months of age. Or earlier.
You see, crying is the only way of communication for babies. They communicate their discomfort with it. So if you choose to ignore it, it becomes similar to an adult asking for help from their closest people and getting squat in response. Do you really want your baby to feel this way? You probably don't, so don't ignore their cries and attend to them as much as you can.
11 Start Teaching The Baby
In the beginning of their life, babies want to explore the world in all possible ways, and parents should help them with it.
You can teach your little one in a number of ways. Read them their favorite books with interesting stories, pretending to be their characters and using different voices to keep your child excited. Show them flashcards with different objects or animals and tell what they are. For example, show them a flashcard with a dog and tell, "See, it's a doggie! Ruff, ruff!" Little by little, teach your baby to point at a flashcard when you ask to show you a certain object.
10 Start The Baby Talk
Another important thing you should work on with your baby is their speech development. Obviously, you can't get them to talk right away, but you can at least teach them some simple sounds and short words (such as "Ma" or "Da", which will later turn into "mommy" and "daddy"). Ask your little one to at least babble these words and sounds back to you and lavish them with praise when they do it.
To further encourage your baby's motivation to start speaking, react to the sounds they make and try to imitate them. If you're attentive, you'll soon learn how to distinguish different vocal expressions of your child that communicate a number of feelings from hunger and discomfort to happiness and excitement.
9 Stop Having Too Many People Around
Starting from the age of 6 months, your baby is likely to develop stranger anxiety. So they might become very attached to you and other family members who are often around, at the same time feeling anxious when meeting those people they don't know. If a stranger comes near and they don't like it, they may cry and settle down only when this person goes away.
So it's recommended not to push your baby into being around many strangers, arrange any big parties and have too many guests at home. If you want to introduce your baby to your friend, better arrange a playdate, where your tot will start feeling more comfortable with them.
8 Start Sleeping Through The Night
This is one of the best things happening at this period of the baby's life. At least for their parents, it is. The tot finally starts sleeping longer hours at night, thus letting their mommy and daddy do the same thing.
According to WebMD, at this age, most babies can sleep six to eight hours at night. Of course, they will still wake up, but from now on it won't happen as often as it did before.
Although the risk of SIDS at this age is much lower, you should still keep toys, pillows and other soft items out of the crib. But don't be alarmed if you find your baby sleeping on their tummy. It's okay if they do it now.
7 Stop Stimulating Them All The Time
Sure, stimulation is very important for the baby's development and they should have plenty of it. But it doesn't mean that you should wave all possible toys in front of them all day long. Your tot also needs quieter periods at this stage. So give them a few minutes once in a while to just play on their own with whatever they want (considering safety measures, of course). Give them no prompts and just observe how they learn to entertain themselves.
According to Bounty, this practice will have benefits both for the baby and their parents, because in the future kids will have a better time alone with themselves and their folks will be able to get a break.
6 Stop Using The Pacifier
Pacifiers are certainly of great help to parents because they soothe a fussy baby and give some quiet time to their mom and dad. However, this seemingly awesome thing also has a number of disadvantages that you should consider before giving a pacifier to your baby or continuing to use it for prolonged periods.
According to Mayo Clinic, one of the major cons of using a pacifier is the possibility that the baby will become dependent on it. Besides, its prolonged use might lead to middle ear infections and dental issues. So to avoid all these problems, you should start weaning your baby from a pacifier at 6 months of age.
5 Start Giving More Independence
Although holding your baby close as much as possible is a good thing to do, especially at the early stages of their life, at 6 months of age you should stop doing it so often. Start giving more independence to your baby. As Robin Goldstein, Ph.D., professor of child development at Johns Hopkins University, says, "At around 6 months to 1 year, babies are naturally explorers. They're using all of their senses to get to know their environment, and that means they may try to touch, taste, or happily tear apart everything that's in sight."
So let them go out of your hands once in a while and explore the world!
4 Stop Worrying About The Baby Rolling Around
As per Baby Center, at 6 months of age, your baby's neck and arm muscles become stronger, which allows them to practice rolling toward one side. It looks so sweet and adorable, you'll certainly love watching your tot doing it!
Don't worry about them practicing this new skill, because it reveals their natural interest to explore the environment. But, to be one the safe side, always watch your baby rolling around, especially if they're lying on a bed or any other elevated surface. Besides, be more attentive when changing their diaper and use your hand to hold them on the changing table (or wherever you do it).
3 Start The Tummy Time
According to Mom Junction, tummy time is extremely important for 6 months old babies. It strengthens their muscles and helps them become more agile in movements. In the future, the development of these muscles will also help them learn to stand up and walk more easily. And at the moment, it gives them the opportunity to crawl wherever they want, which is going to be both adorable and alarming for you. But as long as you remain attentive and watch your little one closely, everything will be just fine!
So make sure to give the tummy time to your baby once in a while every day. They will certainly like it!
2 Stop Stressing Over Growth Spurts
Prepare for the 6-month growth spurt and keep in mind that it's a doozy! What does it mean and what you should expect? It means that at this period your tot will gain body mass quicker than usual. Most importantly, you should know that your baby will become hungrier, so you'll have to feed them more often than usual, and crankier, so you'll have to deal with more crying and fussing.
Thankfully, the growth spurt usually lasts only for a few days, so however hard it might seem you should remember that it shall pass and your little one will soon become nicer, quieter, and less ravenous.
1 Start Playing New Games
At this age, your baby's likely to become more social and physically active. It means that you'll need to play with them very often and help them explore the surroundings in a safe way. Give preference to social games, such as peekaboo.
Speaking of which, don't think that peekaboo is a silly game. According to Parents, it "stimulates your child's growing memory, teaching him that things aren't gone just because he can't see them." Besides, by playing it you show that every time you leave, you come back to your baby.
As another game to play, cover your baby's toy with a blanket and ask, "Where did it go?" If your tot grabs the blanket to pull it away and show you that the toy is there, lavish them with praise!