Six months is an exciting time. Your baby is growing and developing very quickly now. The left side of their brain has started communicating with the right side, meaning they can coordinate their body better. You and your baby are starting to understand each other. They will let you know whether they’re happy or sad and start to respond to words.
By the time they reach 6 months, babies have a much better sense of who they are and how they fit into their world. They will have a good sense of the difference between their parents, siblings and other people, and may even start to be anxious of people they don’t know.
Six months is the recommended age to introduce solid food. This is important to give them the nutrients they need, including iron, but also to strengthen their jaw to help with chewing food and talking. You can try offering small amounts of smooth, pureed or mashed food once a day, and still continue breastfeeding or formula feeding. When you are giving your baby solids, you can also offer some small sips of cool, boiled water from a sippy cup. If you have allergies in your family, talk to your doctor or child and family health nurse before you introduce common allergy foods like eggs or cow’s milk.
Your baby is now due for their 6 months check. This is when you and your doctor will discuss sleep patterns, safe sleeping and prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), healthy diet and teeth care, growth and safety. Your baby also needs their third scheduled vaccination, which for most children involves just 1 injection this time.
What can your baby do?
From about 6 months – sometimes a little later – your baby’s hand control will have developed enough so they can grab an object and move it towards them. They might even be able to pass an object from hand to hand and will learn how to let go of something (and to understand that it fell). It’s too early to tell whether they are left- or right-handed; they will tend to use one hand a lot and then switch to the other.
Most babies can roll over by 6 months, which means you need to be very careful to keep hold of them on the change table or bed. They are starting to push themselves up into a crawling position and may be able to rock back and forth on their hands and knees. They can push up and down with their legs in a standing position and may be able to sit with support. They will often be able to turn themselves in the direction they want to go by now.
6-month-old babies love interacting with you and will start to let you know what they want. They are learning how to attract your attention in ways other than crying. They will also start to understand your emotions from the tone of your voice, for example if you speak to them harshly. Some babies at this age can understand a few words, like ‘bath’, and can recognise their own name.
Their communication skills will be developing fast. You will be hearing lots of babbling, singing, squeals and bubble blowing, sometimes referred to as ‘vocal play’. They love language games and understand how to take turns as you ‘talk’ to each other. About half of 6-month-old babies can repeat a sound over and over again (‘babababa’). Some will even combine several sounds together (‘baga’). Mimic the sounds back to them to help them learn to talk.
How to help your baby develop
Your baby will love exploring the world. Surround them with safe things they can touch and put in their mouth, like a soft ball, different fabrics, teething rings or bells.
Talk and listen to your baby, looking them straight in the eye, making facial expressions and responding to their sounds. They will love being read to, especially books with bright pictures. Have a cuddle while you read to them so you can enjoy this special time together. Reassure them when they’re with people they don’t know, to help them feel safe and secure.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to baby proof your house. Your baby will soon be on the move so make sure their environment is safe.
Development problem signs
All babies develop at different rates. At 6 months, talk to your doctor or maternal child health nurse if:
- your baby doesn’t seem interested in things around them
- doesn’t seem to know their parents or respond to people they know well
- isn’t showing any interest in their surroundings
- isn’t reaching for objects
- isn’t starting to babble or make any voice sounds
- doesn’t make eye contact
- can’t be comforted by a parent or a close carer
Where to seek help
If you are worried or would like to discuss any issues with your baby’s development, speak to your doctor, maternal child health nurse, or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2020