Mother and baby

Now your baby is six months old they will start exploring the world more. This will be a busy time for you. Here’s what to expect.

You might be surprised how quickly your newborn has transformed into an active six month old baby. There are plenty of things to look forward to at this age as your little one learns to sit up and gets stuck into their first foods.

You might find life busier as your baby gets more mobile and life is certainly about to get messier. We look at what changes are ahead.

Development

It’s an exciting time for your baby. Between six and nine months they will make great strides in their development.

At this age, you will be busy introducing them to their first foods, cleaning up after them and marveling at their latest achievements (NHS Choices, 2018; Public Health Agency, 2018).

Between six and nine months:

  • Your baby might learn to sit up unaided.
  • They will become more mobile. Some babies learn to move themselves about by rolling around.
  • Your little one will start to use their hands more effectively. They will enjoy reaching out and grasping things. It’s important to keep this in mind and put small objects out of reach.
  • They will make sounds like ‘da-da’ or ‘ba-ba’.
  • Your baby will babble in a way that mimics you but without using real words.
  • They might cut their first teeth. (NHS Choices, 2016; Public Health Agency, 2018)

Separation anxiety

At around eight months your baby may develop separation anxiety. They might get more clingy and cry if you leave the room. See our article on separation anxiety for more information.

At this age your little one starts to realise that if you leave the room, you may not come back again. So they might get upset even if you are just taking a quick trip to the toilet. Having their mum or dad disappear out of a room can be a scary thought for a baby.

Keep in mind that separation anxiety is very common and completely normal. It is a demonstration of your baby’s strong attachment to you.

This is a phase and for most babies it will go away in time. Your little one will learn that if you go away, they will be okay and you will return.

Feeding

Six months is the recommended age to start introducing your baby to their first foods (NHS Choices, 2018).   

Some parents like to start introducing solids by offering spoonfuls of puréed food. While others opt for baby-led weaning (BLW). This means offering your baby finger foods, like cooked carrot, chunks of banana or unsalted breadsticks.

Whichever approach you take, never force food on your baby if they're not interested. Let them guide you.

Mealtimes are a good time for partners or other family members to get more involved with feeding your baby. It can be lots of fun seeing your baby’s expressions as they experience their first foods.

Milk feeds

To begin with, breast or formula milk will be your baby’s main source of nutrients (NHS Choices, 2018). You need to continue feeding your baby breast or formula milk, or a combination, until they are one year old (NHS Choices, 2018). But as your baby eats more solids, they will start to drink less milk.

It’s a good idea to introduce your baby to drinking water from a cup at six months. Find out more in our article about babies and drinking.

Some women who breastfeed their baby choose to stop breastfeeding when their baby starts to eat solids. Others continue to a year or beyond as there are plenty of benefits to continuing to breastfeed (NHS Choices, 2018).

Health

Your baby will probably have a development check when they are between nine and 12 months old (NHS Choices, 2017). This may take place at home or in a clinic. It’s an opportunity for you to discuss any issues or concerns you might have about your baby’s health, growth, development, behaviour or parenting in general.

Sleeping

By nine months, some babies will be sleeping through the night. While for others, sleep can seem to get worse.

Some babies who have previously slept well may start waking up. This could be the result of separation anxiety or possibly developmental changes (e.g. your baby might practice sitting up in their cot in the night) (Van de Rijt and Plooij, 2010). It’s also possible your baby will wake at this age with teething pain (NHS Choices, 2016).

Creating comforting bedtime routines and sleep associations can help your baby to soothe themselves to sleep (Public Health Agency, 2018). But while lots of parenting information advises on helping your baby sleep better at night, it is based on experience rather than scientific evidence.

Different parents have different approaches to dealing with a wakeful baby. You will need to find one that suits you.

Controlled crying

Some parents practise ‘controlled crying’ (also called sleep training) from six months onwards. Controlled crying is not suitable if your baby is less than six months old.

Controlled crying means going to your baby when they cry and soothing them without picking them up. The idea is to then leave your baby for five minutes before going back and comforting them again. You then repeat controlled crying until your baby falls asleep.

Some parents say their baby starts to sleep through the night after a few nights of controlled crying. Other parents are unhappy with controlled crying techniques and prefer to cuddle and stay with their baby until they fall asleep again.

Some scientists are concerned about the possible effects of controlled crying on babies' emotional development. The little research that has already been done failed to show any harm from controlled crying, although researchers have not yet looked at the long-term outcomes (Crncec et al, 2010; Field, 2017).

Baby care

Your baby will probably start teething at around six to nine months old. It often begins with the bottom front teeth, followed by the top front teeth, then the top and bottom incisors either side.

Some babies take teething in their stride and don’t have any problems. While others can experience pain and distress.

The following can help if your baby is teething:

    •       Teething gels that you rub on your baby’s gums. They usually contain a mild local anaesthetic to numb the pain.

    •       Teething rings that your baby can chew on and help soothe their sore gums.

    •       Pieces of cold apple or carrot that your baby can chew.

    •       Baby paracetamol if your baby is clearly in pain or has a raised temperature. (NHS Choices, 2016)

Playtime

At this age, your baby is beginning to enjoy the world around them and will want to explore it more. They might like the following:

    •       Listening to nursery rhymes or songs.

    •       Clapping or being bounced along to rhymes.

    •       Shaking rattles or tambourines, or other toys that make a noise.

    •       Banging a wooden spoon on an upturned pan.

    •       Looking at picture books or having books read to them. Babies often like looking at pictures of other babies.

This is a good time to get out and about with your baby. So why not join a Bumps and Babies group in your local area and make some new friends.

Safety

As your baby starts to move around and explore, you’ll need to keep small objects out of their way so they can’t hurt themselves.

Taking care of yourself

If your baby is sleeping for longer, you may find life is getting a little bit easier. You might even be thinking about returning to work if you were employed before.

If you go back to work, it can be a juggling act but the more prepared you are the more confident you will feel about it. This could be a good time to think about childcare options and what will suit you and your baby.

This page was last reviewed in October 2017.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support in many areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

Read more in our articles on introducing solids, baby led weaning and tips for baby led weaning.

You may find it helpful to attend an NCT Introducing solids course.

Crncec R, Matthew S, Nemeth D. (2010) Infant sleep problems and emotional health: a review of two behavioural approaches. Journal of reproductive and infant psychology (28):44-54. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22115988 [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

Field T (2017) Infant sleep problems and interventions: A review. Infant Behavior and Development (47):40-53. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28334578 [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

NHS Choices. (2016)  Baby teething symptoms.  Available from:  http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/teething-and-tooth-care.aspx [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

NHS Choices. (2017) Your baby’s health and development reviews.  Available from:   http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/baby-reviews.aspx [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

NHS Choices. (2018) Your baby’s first solid foods.  Available from:   http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/solid-foods-weaning.aspx? [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

Public Health Agency. (2016) Birth to five. Available from: http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/birth-five [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

Van de Rijt H, Plooij F. (2010) The Wonder Weeks. How to stimulate your baby's mental development and help him turn his 8 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward.  London: Kiddy World Publications. [accessed 1st October 2017].

 

 

 

 

 

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