Age: 6 Months
Six months is the golden age of infancy (in my humble opinion). Your baby is old enough to sit on his/her own, is content if you set him/her on the ground with some toys for a few minutes, won’t crawl away (yet), sleeps through the night, and is smiley and responsive; it’s all around—golden.
- Car: Use an infant seat, in the back seat of the vehicle, rear-facing (I like the five-point harness style that allows you to pull the straps tight against the infant’s chest). Keep in mind that if you have a big baby, you may have to buy a convertible car seat at this stage. You will know your child is too big for the infant seat if his/her head comes within two inches of the top of the car seat (or exceeds the weight limit of the seat)
- For help securing the seat make an appointment with a Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (to find a location nearest you visit https://highwaysafety.utah.gov/seat-belts-and-car-seats/car-seat-safety/).
- The crib is the safest place; slats less than 2 3/8 inches apart; lower the crib mattress
- On your baby’s back (to reduce the risk of SIDS); however, if your baby is a good roller, you do not need to flip him/her back over if your baby prefers belly sleeping
- No extra-soft bedding (quilts, comforters), pillows, toys, positioners; these are all suffocation hazards.
- Childproofing: Get down on floor level and look for hazards
- Outlet covers.
- Safety gates in front of stairs.
- Consider what a rolling child can pull down on him/herself (anything with a dangling cord).
- Chemicals/medications/cleaners out of reach or locked.
- Toys with small parts and sharp objects out of reach.
- Water: Do not leave babies unattended in the bathtub. Keep water heater less than 120 degree F (to prevent scalding).
- Smoking: Do not smoke in the home or in your car.
- Sun: Limit sun exposure, use sun protective clothing. Your baby is old enough to use sunscreen if needed.
- Continue to breastfeed or use formula. The milk constitutes the major source of nutrition for your infant.
- Start introduction of solids. The “how to” is less science and more art. Culturally, most people start with iron-fortified cereal (rice, barley, oats because they are easy and generally well tolerated) and then move to pureed vegetables, fruits, and meats. Some people skip “baby foods” and go straight to table foods. Take your cue from your child and progress foods as he or she tolerates. Most take solids twice a day at this age (increasing to 3 times/day by 9 months).
- If allergies are a concern, you may want to wait a couple of days between introduction of new foods in the beginning to watch for any adverse reactions (e.g., rash or diarrhea). Usually, once you’ve given a handful of foods and done well, you can be a little quicker about introducing new foods.
- Table foods. Most kids are developmentally ready for table foods (think little tiny bites of whatever you are eating) by about 7 months. Just make sure it is cooked enough to make soft when possible (e.g., carrots and broccoli) or cut into small enough bites to simply “gum and swallow” whole without risk of choking.
- Do not give your child honey (because of botulism risks) until 1 year of age.
- Nuts. The newest recommendations (as of 3/2019) say you can also introduce nuts/nut products (like peanut butter). You only need to be cautious if there is an immediate family member with a nut allergy (in that case, let me know due to the increased risk of allergies). If giving peanut butter makes you nervous, consider giving it for the first time in the waiting room of your child’s next well visit (that way you are already at the doctor if there is a problem).
- Start to introduce sips of water with meals, typically given in a sippy cup (may need help initially).
- Should be starting to sleep through the night (8+ hours).
- Total sleep is 12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps).
- Sleeping in a crib.
- Typically taking 2 naps a day (a shorter morning and a longer afternoon nap), sometimes taking a third short evening cat nap.
- No more swaddling at this age.
- Sits unsupported.
- Uses a raking grasp.
- Transfers objects from one hand to another.
- Complete head control .
- Good at rolling both directions.
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. It establishes bad habits, causes bottle rot (have you seen the children with rotten teeth or capped teeth?), and is a choking hazard.
- Discuss with your pediatrician whether your infant needs supplemental fluoride (this depends on your city’s water supply).
- Teething typically happens between 6-9 months. Start brushing teeth (with a non-fluoridated toothpaste) when teeth erupt.
At this age you may treat fever and minor illnesses at home as long as your baby looks and acts ok. Bring your baby to the doctor if: symptoms are severe or prolonged, your infant isn’t eating well, your infant is particularly fussy, or you are concerned.
YOUR NEXT VISIT
Your baby’s next well child check is at 9 months of age. If your infant’s vaccines are up to date, then your infant may not need any vaccines at that visit (except potentially a flu shot depending on the time of year). If your baby got a flu shot at this visit, remember that he or she will need a booster in 30+ days.