Dude, where’s my baby? Something you might start asking as your little one begins to move around. This time can be a big change for you, as they may no longer be sitting still where you leave them – once they start crawling they’ll want to crawl all over to learn new things about their environment. And this can only mean one thing: more chaos! Oh, and lots of childproofing. Your baby will be rapidly developing at this stage, and their curiosity about the world around them will continue to grow.
Of course, every baby is different, so keep in mind that your baby may not start crawling until later; as with all developmental milestones, babies learn and grow in their own time. This post highlights general milestones that they might reach, but this is by no means the exact developmental timeline they should be following. If you do have any concerns, you should contact your healthcare professional.
- Not all mothers are able to breastfeed, but the World Health Organisation advises that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
- Even so, it has been found that 75% of British mothers start feeding their baby solid foods before 5 months, often to get them to sleep, but replacing milk with solids too early means they may miss out on important nutrients (such as iron to prevent anaemia) that are in both breast milk and formula. Also, solid foods have been found to have no effect on their growth at this age.
- So, at around 6 months, you might want to start weaning – solid foods give your baby extra nutrients that they will need from this point.
- They will need foods that are easy to digest. They may be able to feed themselves with their fingers (although you might want to avoid messy foods for this).
- They can start drinking cooled, boiled water.
- If they start sleeping through the night, this means no more night feeds – feed frequently in the afternoon or evening to meet their nutritional needs.
- Continued night feeds may be harmful to your baby’s sleep in the long run, as they may get too used to falling back to sleep with a feed, therefore may not be able to settle themselves without one.
- It’s possible that they might sleep through the night in a solid block of around 6-8 hours (but night wakings are still completely normal at this age).
- Night time sleep will increase to around 11 hours, but daytime sleep will decrease to around 3 hours.
- They’ll need around 2 or 3 naps a day and naps will be longer – around 90 minutes.
- You will notice clear signs that they’re ready to sleep – look out for them getting quieter, looking away, yawning, rubbing their eyes and losing interest easily.
- When you start to introduce solids, your baby’s poo will change slightly. It should become larger, darker and smell slightly stronger.
- With solids, a breastfed baby’s poo normally thickens and they start going more often – similar to the frequency of formula-fed babies.
- With solids, a formula fed baby’s poo normally softens.
- They may not poo for up to a week at a time, but they shouldn’t be pooing more than 4 times a day. Look out for runny poo, which may be an infection, and solid poo or blood which may be due to constipation, allergies, infection or digestive problems.
- A green poo every now and then is totally normal!
- They will wee around every 4-6 hours, and it should be pale and not have a strong smell. Look out for very frequent urination which may be signs of a urinary tract infection or type 1 diabetes..
- Your baby will be awake for around 10 hours a day, which means more time for activities in between feeding, bathing, etc.
- As their bodies and brains develop, they will get more interested in their environment (especially when they start crawling).
- Introduce different toys to stop them from getting bored and to help with the progress of their development.
- Try an activity centre (which has lots of different things to keep them entertained) a play mat, a baby gym, bouncers (but follow safety guides) or a walker.
- They can listen to your speech patterns and imitate them
- They understand what you mean when you say ‘no’, and may understand some common nouns
- They might be able to recognise their own name when it’s spoken
- They can recognise lots of objects, including smaller, more delicate ones. They might reach for things like buttons or earrings, so watch out!
- They start to understand that when they can’t see an object or person, they still exist – this is called object permanence.
- They may imitate your facial expressions.
- They might be able to sit up, but will probably need to be propped up while doing it
- They start crawling rolling or shuffling from around 6 months as their arms and legs grow stronger.
- If their arms are stronger than their legs, they might start to crawl backwards – don’t worry, this is normal.
- As they reach 7 months, their fine motor control will develop and they will have more precision with gripping things with their thumb and forefinger.
- They’ll start to hold their arms out when they want to be picked up.
- They will kick their arms and legs with purpose, rather than just flailing.
- Different sounds may develop, such as blowing raspberries
- Their laugh will develop
- They will start to make one syllable sounds, and repeat them. They may even start to make two syllable sounds!
Other cute little things
- Teeth can start to come through which will mean lots of dribbling. You may see two tiny incisors in the top middle of their mouth.
- They have more nerve endings on their tongue than any other part of their body, so will put things in their mouth to see what they feel like.
- They will also love the feeling of different textures on their hands.
- They can develop stranger anxiety, so may grip onto you when meeting unfamiliar people.
- Object permanence can lead to separation anxiety – especially if they are moved into their own room at 6 months. They may cry and fuss when you leave them but they will learn over time that it doesn’t mean you’re gone forever.
- They love being cuddled and fussed over – this can really help with their future emotional development.
- They will have roughly doubled their birth weight at 6 months.
Tips to help development
Get them moving their little body
- Help your baby to sit and surround them with cushions in case they fall.
- Rock them gently from side to side to improve their balance.
- Let them play with building blocks to develop hand-eye coordination.
- As they grow towards 7 months, try holding them up in a standing position and let them bounce up and down on their legs. This can help make leg muscles stronger.
Up the tummy time
- Increase tummy time to 1-2 hours a day from 6 months – the more they have, the stronger they will get.
- Try putting a toy in front of them and get them to reach for it.
- By 7 months they may be able to twist around, and maybe crawl, and the majority of their awake time will be spent on tummy time, sitting or crawling.
- Get them touching different textures to help their curiosity – this is good practice to get them ready for different textured food.
- Start with baby cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, and strained fruits and vegetables.
- Introduce new foods one at a time (every few days) to test if they’re allergic to any.
- Babies should not have honey or cow’s milk until they are at least 12 months. Honey has been found to increase risks of infant botulism, and cow’s milk can lead to nutrient deficiencies and anaemia.
- Also avoid foods that they may choke on such as anything hard, small round food or food with skin (grapes, nuts, olives, sausages, carrots, apples, etc.).
- Cut anything they have into small pieces.
- The NHS has some great tips for weaning, along with information on the types of food that they can eat.
- Get them used to strangers – take them for play dates or to baby groups to get them used to being around new people.
- Get them used to you going away by playing games like peek-a-boo, or try hide and seek while talking to them in the same room. And keep smiling to show them that everything’s OK.
- Just like in the younger months, it’s important to keep talking away with your baby to encourage language and brain development.
- Use repetition – point out familiar objects, count or sing the same songs for them to remember and eventually try to copy. Books with animal noises are great for this.
- Sing songs with actions like pat-a-cake to help with their memory.
- If you move your baby into their own room, try putting them down when they start to get sleepy but they’re not quite asleep to get them used to going to sleep by themselves. This is especially useful for separation anxiety – although it may be difficult at first, they may be more upset if they fall asleep with you and then wake up and realise you’re gone.
- Don’t force them to eat foods – if they turn their head away, they don’t want it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try that food a bit further down the line though. This goes for all aspect of their development – don’t force it – they will learn in their own time.
- If your baby is starting to crawl and you haven’t done it already, you may want to baby-proof your house, especially when it comes to large hazards (TVs, dressers) and small objects that they may put in their mouth.
Things to look out for
Your baby is learning so many new things and developing rapidly – it’s a lot for them to do, so don’t worry if they’re not reaching milestones as fast as other babies. At the end of 7 months, contact your healthcare professional if you have concerns over your baby:
- Squinting, eyes not lining up, etc.
- Not reaching for objects
- Not making or responding to sounds
- Not feeding or sleeping well
- Not being able to put objects into their mouth
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Having poor head control when in a sitting position
- Crying excessively
- Having a decrease in eye contact
- Not smiling, laughing or showing affection
- Not sitting (with help)
Remember to keep an open mind with the speed of your baby’s development – they will learn to do things in their own time; just make sure to comfort and encourage them, and enjoy this precious time with them.