Baby Care: 6 months
At this age, babies should sleep through the night (usually between 8-12 hours) and take 2-3 naps a day, to average about 14-15 hours of sleep per day. If this isn’t happening yet, contact us for a Sleep Consultation-- one of our nurse practitioners specializes in child sleep behavior and she can help troubleshoot. In the meantime, follow these tips to create routines in your baby’s life that will contribute to healthy sleeping habits.
Be consistent with your bedtime routine and be sure to continue to place your baby in his crib when he is awake, so he can learn to fall asleep on his own (rather than rocking or holding your baby until he is asleep). If your baby wakes up fussing at night, try to wait before you respond to see if he can soothe himself back to sleep. If you respond to fussing at night, leave the lights off, and do not play with the baby or pick the baby up. Rather, gently “shhh” your baby and offer a pacifier if you use one to help him fall back asleep. If you haven’t already, this is now the time to lower your crib mattress. Babies tend to stand up first on their own in their crib, so you want to have the mattress lowered before they figure out how to do this. Continue to place your baby on his back to sleep (always), without any loose or soft bedding, pillows, bumpers, or stuffed animals in the crib.
If your baby has not yet started solids, this is the age to get started. You have probably noticed that your baby will now take breastmilk or formula anywhere from 3-5 times a day. If you have already started solids (with your infant cereal or rice) and have tried out some vegetables and fruits, you can continue to increase their rainbow of foods. Offer pureed meats, full fat yogurt (such as Greek yogurt), fish, and cheese. As your baby approaches 8-9 months, he will want to feed himself with his fingers. Make sure to chop up all food into bite-sized pieces and avoid foods that are considered a choking hazard, such as peanut butter, popcorn, hot dogs, whole grapes, raisins, or hard foods such as carrots or apples. This is also the perfect time to offer your baby water in a cup; allow your baby to play with the cup and learn to sip from it. Fruit juice is not necessary and offers no nutritional value. Breastmilk, formula and water are best. Whole milk should not be introduced until after age 1, however, as noted above, whole-milk yogurt and cheese are okay to introduce.
Childproof your home! Your baby will be moving before you know it, so make your home a safe environment. Be sure medicines, cleaning supplies, small objects, electrical outlets, and cords are all out of your baby’s reach. Gate your stairways and be sure all dressers and furniture is strapped to your wall. All windows above the first floor should be locked or have safety guards.
Around this age you will start to see your baby sitting up on their own (with some support), passing objects from hand to hand, and using her fingers to pull objects closer. Even cuter is when she babbles and tries to imitate your sounds! Continue to talk and sing to your baby. Start reading to your baby every day.