3-6 months - Life with your baby
Although it might not seem like it to you, during the three to six month period, babies are sometimes referred to as ‘settled’, as this is the stage at which they generally become more predictable and manageable. While they will still be sleeping for longish periods of time, they will also be keen to play while they are awake. Babies develop at very different rates but generally by six months your baby will be able to:
- Roll onto their front.
- Push up on their forearms and look around.
- Sit up if propped up with pillows or a cushion.
- Pick objects up and bring them up to their mouth.
Let your baby develop at their own pace and encourage their achievements, whether they are a cautious walker or an early chatterbox. Development is a ‘what’ and ‘how’ rather than a ‘when’.
This is a good time to try baby massage, which can stimulate growth and development. It’s also a great way of strengthening your bond with your baby.
By this age, your baby will require fewer feeds. If you are breastfeeding, you may be able to leave them with another adult for a couple of hours between feeds while you have a rest. You could also try expressing milk so that someone else can feed them while you do something else.
At four months old, your baby will be called for the following booster vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Hib (booster); meningitis C and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). Babies often feel a little unsettled and fretful after their injections so ask the attending nurse or doctor to advise you on how best to sooth them if they are.
Your baby will probably also need less sleep now, though three-month old babies still sleep for about 14 to 16 hours a day. They may be getting into a more settled pattern of sleeping for longer periods at night. You can encourage this by developing a bedtime routine at the same time each evening and doing the same activities each night, such as a bath, feed and a story. Bed and bath time can be a great time for dads to be involved and spend some special time with baby.
Your baby will start to enjoy a wider range of games at this age. So why not try some of the following activities:
- Put them in front of a mirror – babies love to look at their reflections.
- Look at picture books with them - there are plenty of board or cloth books designed especially for babies.
- Play peek-a-boo by covering up your face with your hands or a cushion, and then taking them away and gently saying ‘boo!’.
- Talk and sing to them – babies love the sound of voices.
- Playtime doesn’t need to be expensive either: babies find anything entertaining – from a wooden spoon to a plastic bowl. You could also save money on items you do want to buy by going to a local NCT Nearly New sale where you can find lots of toys and books in a great condition for a fraction of the price.
As your baby gets older and more mobile, you need to be extra careful that they can’t injure themselves:
- Keep small objects that they might choke on out of the way (babies love to put things in their mouths).
- Don’t leave them unattended on a bed or other surface that they could roll off.
Taking care of yourself
Even though a three to six month-old baby is described as a ‘settled’ baby, being a new parent will still be hard work at this stage. Try to get as much help as you can, be that from your partner, relatives or friends. As always, you need to make time for yourself too – whether it’s reading a book, having a chat on the phone or simply having a lie-down.
You and your partner might start thinking about sex post-baby at this stage or it could still be the activity furthest from your mind. However you feel about sex, don’t feel pressured and don’t compare yourself to other mums. Share your thoughts with your partner and explain the big changes that pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a new baby bring about. Only you can decide when you’re ready to take the next step.
Another issue that might be at the forefront of your mind is finances. If you're used to earning your own money, you might not have thought about what it will be like when you're on maternity leave. It can be difficult living off your partner's wage and lots of mums miss their financial independence. It's a good idea to sit down together to discuss this and consider all your options.