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At the 6-month checkup, the health care provider will examine the baby and ask how things are going at home. This sheet describes some of what you can expect.
The health care provider will ask questions about your baby. And he or she will observe the baby to get an idea of the infant’s development. By this visit, your baby is likely doing some of the following:
Grabbing his or her feet and sucking on toes
Putting some weight on his or her legs (for example, “standing” on your lap while you hold the baby)
Sitting up for a few seconds at a time, when placed in a sitting position
Babbling and laughing in response to words or noises made by others
By 6 months, begin to add solid foods (“solids”) to your baby’s diet. At first, solids will not replace your baby’s regular breast milk or formula feedings. Also, at 6 months some babies start to get teeth. If you have questions about teething, ask the health care provider.
In general, it does not matter what the first solid foods are. There is no current research stating that introducing solid foods is any distinct order is better for your baby. Traditionally, single-grain cereals are offered first, but single-ingredient strained or mashed vegetables or fruits are fine choices, too.
When first offering solids, mix a small amount of breast milk or formula with it in a bowl. When mixed, it should have a soupy texture. Feed this to the baby with a spoon once a day for the first 1 to 2 weeks.
When offering single-ingredient foods such as homemade or store-bought baby food, introduce one new flavor of food every 3 to 5 days before trying a new or different flavor. Following each new food, be aware of possible allergic reactions such as diarrhea, rash, or vomiting. If your baby experiences any of these, stop offering the food and consult with your child's health care provider.
By 6 months of age, most breastfed babies will need additional sources of iron and zinc. Your baby may profit from baby food made with meat, which has more readily absorbed sources of iron and zinc.
Feed solids once a day for the first 3 to 4 weeks. Then, increase feedings of solids to twice a day. During this time, also keep feeding your baby as much breast milk or formula as you did before starting solids.
For foods that are typically considered highly allergic, such as peanuts and eggs, experts suggest introducing these foods by 4 to 6 months of age may actually reduce the risk of food allergy in infants and children. After other common foods (cereal, fruit, and vegetables) have been introduced and tolerated, you may begin to offer allergenic foods, one every 3 to 5 days. This helps isolate any allergic reaction that may occur.
Ask the health care provider if your baby needs fluoride supplements.
Your baby’s poop will change after he or she begins eating solids. It may be thicker, darker, and smellier. This is normal. If you have questions, ask during the checkup.
Ask the health care provider when your baby should have his or her first dental visit.
At 6 months, a baby is able to sleep 8 to 10 hours at night without waking. But many still do wake up once or twice a night. If your baby isn’t yet sleeping through the night, starting a bedtime routine may help (see box below). To help your baby sleep safely and soundly:
Keep putting your baby down to sleep on his or her back. If the baby rolls over while sleeping, that’s okay. You do not need to return the baby to his or her back.
Do not put your child to bed with any drink other than water.
At this age, some parents let their babies cry themselves to sleep. This is a personal choice. You may want to discuss this with the health care provider.
Don’t let your baby get hold of anything small enough to choke on. This includes toys, solid foods, and items on the floor that the baby may find while crawling. As a rule, an item small enough to fit inside a toilet paper tube can cause a child to choke.
It’s still best to keep the baby out of the sun most of the time. Apply sunscreen to your baby as directed on the packaging.
In the car, always put the baby in a rear-facing car seat. This should be secured in the back seat according to the car seat’s directions. Never leave the baby alone in the car.
Don’t leave the baby on a high surface such as a table, bed, or couch. Your baby could fall off and get hurt. This is even more likely once the baby knows how to roll.
Always strap the baby in when using a high chair.
Soon your baby may be crawling, so it’s a good time to make sure your home is childproofed. For example, put baby latches on cabinet doors and covers over electrical outlets. Babies can get hurt by grabbing and pulling on items. For example, the baby could pull on a tablecloth or a cord, pulling something on top of him. To prevent this sort of accident, do a safety check of any area your baby spends time in.
Older siblings can hold and play with the baby as long as an adult supervises.
Walkers with wheels are not recommended. Stationary (not moving) activity stations are safer. Talk to the health care provider if you have questions about which toys and equipment are safe for your baby.
Call the doctor right away if the baby has a rectal temperature over 100.4°F.
Based on recommendations from the American Association of Pediatrics, at this visit your baby may receive the following vaccinations:
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
Haemophilus influenzae type b
Your baby is now old enough to sleep through the night. Like anything else, sleeping through the night is a skill that needs to be learned. A bedtime routine can help. By doing the same things each night, you teach the baby when it’s time for bed. You may not notice results right away, but stick with it. Over time, your baby will learn that bedtime is sleep time. These tips can help:
Make preparing for bed a special time with your baby. Keep the routine the same each night. Choose a bedtime and try to stick to it each night.
Do relaxing activities before bed, such as a quiet bath followed by a bottle.
Sing to the baby or tell a bedtime story. Even if your child is too young to understand, your voice will be soothing. Speak in calm, quiet tones.
Don’t wait until the baby falls asleep to put him or her in the crib. Put the baby down awake as part of the routine.
Keep the bedroom dark, quiet, and not too hot or too cold. Soothing music or recordings of relaxing sounds (such as ocean waves) may help your baby sleep.
Next checkup at: _______________________________