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Your 6-Month-Old

Experimenting with solid foods—it's the exciting and messy new chapter in your baby's first year. Do you have a comfy and sturdy high chair for your baby? Find one that either clips to the table or scoots right up to it. You want your baby to grow into being part of family meals.

Eat

Welcome to the world of solids! Most doctors and nutrition experts agree that by 6 months, babies are ready for the new tastes and textures of food. "A baby with good head control who watches eagerly when you prepare foods, readily opens his mouth and sits up without support is developmentally ready to try solid foods," says board-certified infant feeding specialist Cynthia Epps.

Breast milk or formula can continue on as usual—the solids you introduce at this point are more of a bonus. Solids don't take the place of milk, which is still your baby's primary source of nutrition.

You don't need to start with the traditional rice cereal, unless your doctor recommends it. Many nutrition experts recommend that a baby's first foray into foods be with green or yellow vegetables, diluted with water, breast milk or formula. You can start with one meal per day and bump that up to two meals per day when your baby is 7 months.

Sleep

Six months is a fair age to expect your baby to sleep well, says Heather Turgeon, sleep consultant and co-author of "The Happy Sleeper." At 6 months, her internal clock is mature and she's capable of self-soothing. This doesn't mean she has to sleep 11–12 hours straight, says Turgeon, but she can fall asleep on her own—and when she wakes up to feed, she can go back to sleep smoothly without much fanfare. Whether a parent decides to wean a baby from night feedings—or not—is a matter of choice. It's perfectly natural for a baby this age to still feed 1–2 times in the night, says Turgeon.

"Six months is when a lot of families call us for help," Turgeon notes. "If a baby isn't in the habit of falling asleep independently at bedtime, it can start taking longer and longer to get that baby to sleep, and they're more likely to wake in the night too." At this point, a lot of parents feel stuck. "To get unstuck at this age, you need a plan for how to back off from over-helping while still being responsive and supportive to the baby," says Turgeon. "It's tricky, and that's where hand-holding through the process can be a game changer."

A 6-month-old's sleep schedule:

7:00 p.m. bedtime

6:00 a.m. wake time

Nap after every 90 minutes to 2 hours of awake time until bed (usually 3 naps).

Play

If you haven't already, now is the time to learn and practice a repertoire of baby songs. Sit your baby in front of you and sing songs. Don't be bashful about belting them out—and if they involve hand motions, even better. Remember the classics, like:

Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Wheels on the Bus

Where Is Thumbkin

Open Shut Them

Peek-a-boo also never gets old. It's thrilling for your baby to see you, then not see you, wonder what's about to happen, and then: poof! She sees you again. She's testing her mature level of "object permanence," which tells her things are there even when she can't see them.

If it fits in your schedule, join a Mommy and Me class or an informal play group for babies of the same age. We're not meant to do this parenting thing alone, so joining a group gives you the chance to learn from others, and share information and support. Babies also love to watch and learn from each other.

Milestones

  • Your baby may start to sit up unsupported.
  • Many babies can roll from their stomach to their back (or the other way around).
  • Some babies can start to scoot from place to place while lying down.

LOOK AHEAD: Your 7-Month-Old

Photograph by: Getty Images

Explore More: baby care, sleep, milestones, baby feeding, Baby 101, Month by Month
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