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Dossier: Our baby

Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6

Time flies! Babies develop at a seemingly breakneck pace and are constantly learning new things. Although children develop at their own pace, there are a few common milestones. What happens in months 5 and 6?

Photo: Meghan Holmes/Unsplash

Milestones at 5 months

  • Sitting without support: Your baby’s physical development is now progressing rapidly. When you lay him on his stomach, he’ll stretch out his arms and legs and lift up his bottom. He’ll lift his head and shoulders off the floor. Maybe he can even sit unsupported for a few moments. But stay nearby in case he topples over. Encourage him to play on his tummy. Lifting his head strengthens his neck muscles and improves his head control – both important skills for learning to sit.
  • More sounds: Every day your baby learns new things from your language and responds by making raspberries and babbling.
  • Cause and effect: Your child understands that actions always have some kind of effect. He may drop bowls just to see how they fall or whether you pick them up. This can be tiring, but try to get used to it. In a few weeks, these actions will even by accompanied by a cheeky giggle.
  • Seeing small objects and pastel colours: Your baby can now see even small objects more clearly and follows moving objects with his eyes. Your child can now differentiate not only between primary colours but also pastel shades.
  • Fine-tuning hearing skills: Your baby can now identify where sounds come from and turn towards them. He’ll now watch your mouth attentively when you speak and try to imitate accentuations and produce consonants such as “m” and “b”. At five months, your baby can understand his own name – watch how he turns his head if you’re talking to someone about him.
  • Diverting attention: If your child whines, you can easily distract him for a short time: Make faces, sing a song, clap your hands, or give him a safe object to play with.
  • Express feelings: Babies can’t yet express their feelings like adults, but they can certainly show if they’re hungry, happy or bored. At this age, most babies are very clingy with their parents and will stretch out their arms or cry when you leave the room. Your baby will still probably want cuddles and kisses. When he discovers his sense of humour, he’ll laugh at funny faces or gestures and try to make you laugh too.

Milestones at 6 months

  • Left or right-handed? It’s still too early to tell yet. At this age most babies show a preference for one hand, then switch to the other. You can only really tell whether a child is left or right-handed at the age of 2 or 3.
  • At this age, most babies learn to turn in both directions. You should therefore always keep one hand on your baby when he’s on a raised surface, e.g. when you’re changing nappies or when he’s on the sofa or lying on your bed.
  • Attention: Although your baby may be showing signs of stranger anxiety, at six months most babies are still happy to interact with anyone. Your baby is also learning that his behaviour has an effect on you – in both a positive and negative way. He’ll start to use this knowledge as a means of winning your attention, and will continue to do so for quite some time.
  • In the next few months your child will develop her own special methods – going far beyond crying – to let you know what he’s thinking, what he wants and what he needs.
  • At 6 months, babies love to interact with you, particularly mimicking sounds and language. Now and again, let your baby take the lead, and imitate the sounds and noises he makes. When it’s your turn, you can make your own noises (e.g. animal sounds) to entertain him and teach him something at the same time.
  • Vision quality and babbling: Your baby sees the world around him as clearly as an adult. And his communication skills are improving rapidly. His repertoire now includes squealing, blowing raspberries and fast changes in pitch. Around half of all children at this age start babbling. They repeat syllables such as “ma”, “pa”, “ga” or other consonant-vowel combinations. You can encourage your child by babbling back to him.
  • Stimulating senses: Your baby uses all of his senses to explore the world around him. Give him new toys from time to time, such as a rubber ball, pieces of material, cuddly toys or a teething ring. Objects that he can touch, put in his mouth and play with. To prevent choking, make sure you don’t let him play with objects that are too small.
  • Picture books: Your child will love to look at pictures and picture books with stories. He will listen carefully and enjoy being close to you.•
  • Eating independently and having meals together: At 6 months, babies can usually sit straight without help and eat small pieces from a plate. The reflex to push the spoon out of their mouth with their tongue decreases. Remember not to add salt or sugar to your baby’s food in the first year.