My baby is six months old already!

Time passes very quickly and before you know it your baby will be six months old. His movements will be increasingly precise and he may even be able to sit up unaided for a while. At six months children's first teeth appear and they are able to try new foods.

Skills

At six months, babies are more precise with their mobility and are capable of holding up the weight of their own bodies with a hand when they are lying on their stomachs. The bones in their backs are now stronger, which enables them to remain sitting unsupported for a few seconds. With some support they can sit up for much longer. It's best that they stay on their stomachs on the floor for most of the time, where they can experiment with movement and learn new skills. Most children of this age can turn face up and face down by themselves and are starting to perform the balancing movements that will help them crawl.

Their hand movements are also more precise and they don't need to drop one toy to pick up another. Their fingers will also have learnt how to pick up smaller objects by making a pincer movement, using the thumb and index finger.

At six months of age, babies start pronouncing some syllables with a degree of clarity and if you call them by their name they will turn their heads to look for who is talking. At this age they also start to differentiate between high and low tones and respond with a type of gurgling sound when they are spoken to. From the age of six months, children's attitudes start to change. They now enjoy communicating with others and are increasingly aware of the power they have. They can command the attention of their parents, either by crying, laughing or making some of their little noises.

They remain uncertain around strangers and are likely to cry if someone they don't know picks them up. It's best to keep introducing them to new people so little by little they can get used to it.

This remains a stage of experimentation. At this age they pay attention to what is around them, they like to touch and to put whatever is in their hands into their mouths. Many parents decide to introduce solid foods into their diets but often more to capture their interest and enable them to experiment with foods by sucking, squashing or crushing them than to eat them.

If they start crying, salivating abundantly or having problems sleeping, it's most likely because their first teeth are arriving. However, each baby develops differently. Although six months is a common age for teeth to start appearing, some children start to get them at four or five months, while others don't have any until they are a year old.

In terms of weight and height, most children at six months will have doubled their weight from birth to around 7 or 8 kilograms and measure between 65 and 68 centimetres.

Food and sleep

Sleep is not much different from the two previous months. Children wake less during the night and some will sleep up to 10 hours straight, but most will continue waking up and looking for their parents some nights. In total, they will sleep around 14 hours with the night and daytime naps.

They can start with supplementary foods around this age, although formula will continue as the basis of their diets. They can try new foods gradually. The ideal is every three or four days to see how they tolerate them. The first foods usually introduced are gluten-free cereals and fruit purées but whenever you decide to start your baby on new foods it's best to follow the paediatrician's instructions.

Stimulation

As in previous months, family games continue to be the best stimulant. Try passing dolls from one hand to the other so your child can imitate you and keep improving hand mobility. This is a stage of experimentation when children like touching everything. They will love toys of different textures, colours and shapes.

They continue to grow more sociable and activities with their parents and siblings will be their favourites. You can play aeroplanes, tickle them or read stories to them. Music is also a fantastic stimulant for their hearing and they will love hearing how others talk.

The best thing for their physical development is to spend most of their time on the floor, on a rubber mat or the like, where they can move around and experiment safely. Exercises to strengthen their muscles are also recommended. Children can be held under the arms to support their legs on the ground, be gently thrown in the air or put on your lap to stay sitting for a while.

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