Six months and beyond

Where once you spent your days staring at your peacefully sleeping newborn baby, now you spend yours playing with – and laughing at – Mr or Mrs Personality!  Six month old babies adore play time and will also start to babble away to themselves, practising all of these amazing sounds that they hear around them.  The more you talk to them, they more they learn about language and also forge a sense of belonging in your family.

Here are a few things you can expect to see around this age:

Growth and appetite

Once floppy jumpsuits suddenly burst at the seams as your baby goes through large – and rapid – growth spurts.  From six months onwards, babies can gain up to 100g per week, but again, not all babies do so don't worry if yours is having smaller gains – a weight gain in itself is a positive thing.  Baby’s weight and length will be monitored regularly by their child health nurse to ensure they are keeping on track.

 

During the first year of life, you can expect your little one to triple their birth weight.  Given the amount of growing going on, it is no surprise that babies need the best nutrition to give their busy bodies all they need.  You might even notice increases in your baby's appetite here and there, which is more often followed by a significant growth spurt.

 

At six months, continue to offer baby’s usual milk before solids and babies may be eating two to three small meals a day but remember all babies are different. .During hot weather, you may need to offer your little one extra water in a sippy cup. 

 

 

Constipation

As your baby's tiny tummy adjusts to the new world of solids, it is not uncommon for some to experience changes in bowel motions including constipation.  Unsurprisingly, your baby's poo will become small and hard like little pellets, and your baby might seem a bit cranky when they go to the toilet.

 

There can be a number of causes of constipation in little ones, however a common one is not enough fluids, and it is less common in breastfed babies too.

 

A few tips to help your constipated baby include:

 

  • As your baby moves on to solids, they may cut back on their milk intake so they may need some extra water to keep their fluids up. If constipated try giving them some extra cooled boiled water 2-3 times a day (around 50ml each time) after a meal or between meals.
  • If your baby is formula fed, check that you are making up the bottles to the exact manufacturer's instructions. Always use the correct scoop (levelled) and make sure you are adding the powder to the water, not the other way around.
  • Including a variety of fruits and vegetables in their food intake will help provide valuable
  • Avoid bran cereals as these are a bit too harsh on the tummies of little ones and can quickly make the problem worse.

 

Diarrhoea

There will be no guessing 'has my baby got diarrhoea' - you will certainly know when it shows it's ugly head!  Diarrhoea in babies under 12 months is not much fun as babies can quickly get dehydrated and miss out on vital fluids and nutrients. 

As babies can dehydrate very rapidly always seek medical advice if your baby has diarrhoea.


There are two golden rules:


1)   Be careful with your hygiene so as to avoid spreading the infection to other family members, or worse, reinfecting your baby.

2)   Keep your baby's fluids up.  If you are breastfeeding, stick with it and you will need to try and feed baby more often to replace some of the lost fluid.

 


Sleeping

If your baby is sleeping through the night at six months, congratulations, you have hit the sleeping baby jackpot!  If not and you are desperate for a little shut eye, do talk to your GP or maternal health nurse as they might be able to give you some guidance.  Alternatively, try to remember that all babies will sleep through the night eventually – how many 40 year olds do you know who wake up crying during the night?!

Babies at this stage also need around two to three sleeps during the day, say one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  And as that old adage goes, 'sleep promotes sleep' so no doubt the better your baby is at sleeping during the day, the better they are at night and vice versa.

 

Bath time

Bath time is (usually) a fun affair for babies around this age, as they learn to sit up with support and splash around. It goes without saying, but never leave your little one unattended for a breath in the bath at this age. If the phone rings or somebody knocks at the door they can wait, your baby's safety is all that matters.