If you haven’t been thinking about baby developmental milestone before now, reaching the half-year mark will likely put them front of mind. But, in truth, there’s nothing particularly special about reaching six-months of age. It’s not as if your baby carries some kind of biological trigger that goes off once they’ve been on the planet for six months. That’s simply not how developmental milestones work.
It’s understandable that some parents may believe milestones occur in a specific sequence, one after the other, as their child ages. But babies are far more complicated than that. Every baby develops at their own pace. They hit milestones at different moments and in different sequences. There might be a “typical’ or average type of six-month old, but your baby likely isn’t going to be exactly as described in baby books and parenting sites. It’s far better to look at your baby as a full individual rather than a series of behaviors that mark whether they are healthy or normal.
The six-month milestones we suggest you consider are more about global behaviors and traits than a set of skills your child should have. Keep in mind that you’ve got six months of experience with the growth of your child. If something seems off, it probably is, but if you feel your baby is progressing at the clip they’ve been at for the previous months, then everything is likely fine.
6-Month Milestone #1: Baby Gets Seriously Curious
More than any little thing that parents are told to look for at 6-months, the aggregate behavior parents will want to see from their baby is an inclination towards curiosity. How do you know if your baby is curious? If you find yourself asking your baby questions like, “What was that? What is that? Did you hear that? Do you see that?” it’s very likely that you are responding to your baby’s curiosity cues. They may look around if they hear a new sound, or stare intently at a new sight or new person. They might reach out and bat at a new object. They might chew on toys and turn them over in their hands. They will splash in liquids and drop objects.
This curiosity feeds off of itself and its presence means that systems are integrating and working together. 6-month-old curiosity means that they are beginning to recognize what’s novel and what’s familiar. The ability to explore objects with hands and mouth shows that muscles are developing correctly and your baby is developing dexterity. Reaching out for objects or listening intently to new sounds shows that a child’s hearing and sight are coming along too.
Red Flags: You’ll want to talk to your pediatrician if your baby isn’t showing at least some pointed curiosity in their day to day life. That particularly true is the lack of curiosity is paired with listlessness and a disregard for parents.
What You Shouldn’t Stress About: If your baby is a bit quiet or slow to explore their surrounding that’s not really a huge concern as long as they are showing some inclination towards curiosity. Place your baby’s behavior in the context of the previous months. If they’ve always been slow to react and explore it’s more likely a product of their particular temperment rather than a developmental delay. Still, any concerns should be brought to a pediatrician.
6-Month Milestone #2: Baby is Making Moves
At the 6th-month mark some babies have actually started to master movement (time to get on baby proofing your home!). A small portion of babies in the 6-month-age can actually get on their hands and knees and crawl. But while some babies can crawl, many others aren’t ready to. Some babies will skip crawling altogether for butt scooting, rolling, scuttling, tripod walking or dragging. If it works to get them where they want to go, it honestly doesn’t matter.
At 6-months-old many babies will have developed the core strength to hold themselves in a quasi-seated position, using their hands to prop themselves up. When on their belly, some babies have figured out how to roll over, other can kick themselves forward towards an object they find interesting.
The Baby Milestones That Matter
There are fewer developmental milestones in the first year of your baby’s life than you might think. Here’s your month-by-month guide.
The upshot is that a 6-month old should be physically active creatures and relatively purposeful in their activity.
Red Flags: At six-month-old, babies should have a pretty strong core and the ability to coordinate their limbs towards a task. Parents should tell their pediatrician if their baby seems particularly floppy, or seems unable or unwilling to move, turn their head, or coordinate their limbs.
What You Shouldn’t Stress About: Don’t worry about crawling specifically — this isn’t the end-all goal for your soon-to-be bipedal kid. Some babies crawl, some babies don’t. Some babies go from rolling over to cruising to walking. You don’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time getting your baby to crawl. Just give them opportunities to explore their world.
Non-Milestone Moments In Baby’s Fifth Month
Around six-month of age you’ll hear and read a lot about your baby’s ability to recognize object-permanence. That’s the concept that objects and people don’t just disappear when they are out of sight. But there is some controversy as to whether babies are just starting to understand object-permanence at six months or if they are just developing the ability to show that they already understood the concept.