Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Dr. Sandro Cantoni, Pediatrician. Updated: 20 September 2021
At every age, your infant and toddler play, learns, talks, and moves. Seeing when and how it does these things is critical. Because from this you can know if the baby’s development is normal or not.
This observation of development can be done by any parent just fine. It’s not a matter of doing special investigations or tests, but just watching the baby’s movement and some simple daily activities.
In fact, I believe that parents are the best people to check the baby’s development. Because they know him perfectly in all its facets. The parent can pick up on nuances of behavior that the pediatrician often fails to detect.
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What are the developmental milestones?
The developmental milestones are the things that most babies do at a certain age.
Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t reach all the developmental milestones for his age right away.
Every baby is different. Some babies develop faster, others are a little slower. But this is often normal.
Some babies walk at 10 months, others at 18 months.
The achievement of developmental milestones also depends on gestational age. If the baby was born one or two months premature, then he or she will reach the milestones one or two months later.
If you think that your baby’s development is not normal, ask your pediatrician for a checkup.
Don’t wait until the next checkup in a few months. Do the same if you have concerns about how your baby is talking, playing, acting or moving, or any other concerns.
Don’t wait. Make your doubts and concerns clear to the pediatrician.
If there are problems, early detection and early intervention are critical.
What are the developmental milestones for a 4-month-old baby?
Check the following 6-month milestones.
Sixth-month baby milestones: Motor skills
If the baby is supine, on his back, he tries to lift his head, as if to look at his feet.
When he plays he can often touch or pick up his feet.
He can roll over both ways (back to front, front to back)
He kicks with his legs vigorously.
The baby grabs toys with his hands, moves them, looks at them. He may beat them against a hard surface, or throw them on the floor. He often brings them to his mouth.
He turns objects with his hands to examine them. He can pass a toy from one hand to the other. He can also pick up a toy with one hand while the other holds another object.
In the sitting position, he still won’t stay there on his own. If you hold him he supports his head, controls it in all positions. He turns his head to look at his environment, objects, and people around him.
If you lay him on his stomach, prone, he extends his arms, with his hands open, and lifts his head and chest well. Always in this position the baby turns over and lies on his back.
He is not yet able to crawl, but he can try. For example, he lifts himself on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth.
In standing position, with his feet resting on a hard surface, the six months baby tries to jump. He may begin to support his weight for some time.
6-month milestones: The senses
If he is not focused on a toy, or you, he watches and explores his environment and the people who are with him.
He begins to recognize his name and turns his head if you call his name.
The baby will turn if he hears a familiar voice.
Communication and Language of your 6-month-old baby.
The baby begins to produce more complex sounds, such as vowel sounds and consonant sounds, syllables like “ma”, “pa”. He expresses his emotions with these. He makes different sounds if he is happy or bored, or angry. He likes to play peek-a-boo.
The baby often laughs and tries to communicate with you by producing vocalizations. There are variations in pitch and rhythm of the voice. Sometimes he talks to himself, sounding like he is “telling himself stories”.
Your baby laughs and is interested in his surroundings and familiar faces.
Social and emotional development
Your 6-month child loves to play with you and often laughs. He tries to imitate the sounds you make and also your facial expressions.
He begins to distinguish familiar people from unfamiliar ones. He likes to play and gets upset if you take a toy he is holding. Sometimes he plays quietly on his own.
The baby begins to calm down on his own after a moment of fussing or crying.
Intellectual and social development
The baby begins to understand the concept of cause-and-effect. For this reason, he tends to repeat activities that are interesting and pleasant for him. For example, he keeps throwing an object on the ground to see what happens (and the parents’ reaction). Or he shakes a rattle, or a set of keys, to hear the noise it makes.
He likes to look at himself in the mirror, often trying to touch himself and smiling.
How can I support my baby’s development?
Reading to your baby every day helps its brain development. Reading is helpful for babies and children to grow both socially and emotionally. Hearing words and watching images help in his attempts to learn sounds and words. Have a cuddle while reading to them to enjoy this special moment.
Your 6-month-old baby could soon be moving so be sure the surroundings are safe. Give them something they can feel and put them into their mouths. Give him confidence when people don’t know him. Talk and listen to your baby with eye contact, making facial expressions, reacting to his sounds.
What are the warning signs for possible developmental delay at 6 months?
Signs of retardation are for example these:
The baby’s movements are not symmetrical or harmonious.
When lying on his back, supine, he does not lift and keep his head up.
Also, the baby does not roll over when lying down.
When lying on his stomach (prone), he does not lean on his hands or keep his head up.
If you try to put him in a sitting position, the baby cannot support his head. His head falls forward or back.
When the baby is lifted with one hand on his belly, he fails to keep his head up. It falls below the horizontal line of his back.
If he is put upright, the baby does not support his weight but tends to bend his knees.
Your 6-month-old baby looks very stiff, with contracted muscles. Or looks very floppy, like a stuffed doll.
He does not grab objects with the palm of his hands. He does not carry an object from one hand to the other.
The baby does not bring his hands or objects to his mouth.
He is not interested in his surroundings, does not look at your face, but only does so for a few seconds.
The baby makes few sounds. Do not attempt to communicate.
He does not seem interested in playing and interacting with his parents. He does not respond with smiles.
The baby does not react to sounds or noises.
If your 6 month baby has any of these symptoms or if you are worried, talk to your pediatrician or health care provider. Don’t wait. Early detection of a possible problem is crucial. Early treatment is critical.
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Choo YY, Agarwal P, How CH, Yeleswarapu SP. Developmental delay: identification and management at primary care level. Singapore Med J. 2019;60(3):119-123.