It’s official! You have a 6-month-old on your hands. Chances are, it’s hard to remember life before your baby, even if the last six months have flown by. Now it’s time to head to your pediatrician for his six-month check up.
This is an important check-up that will give your pediatrician an opportunity to observe your baby’s growth and development. As with all check-ups, your baby will be measured and weighed, and a head circumference will be taken. Your child’s pediatrician will show you where this growth falls on a growth chart and address any concerns regarding your baby’s physical development. Remember, it’s the trend of the numbers and not the absolute number that matters!
Your pediatrician will also touch on some relevant topics you may be thinking about at the six-month mark. These include:
- Feeding. If you haven’t introduced solid foods by now, the six-month mark may be the time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months if possible, but now that you’re here, it’s time to think about introducing solid foods. Many parents are unnecessarily worried about the feeding process. Your doctor will help you choose which first food is best. The calories they consume from solids are still just a small fraction of their entire day’s energy. Breast milk or formula is still their most important source of nutrition, so if the first few weeks don’t go smoothly, there is nothing to worry about.
- Your baby’s bowel habits. When you do introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet, the appearance of his or her stool will change and become more formed and smelly! However, you want to watch out for signs that your baby is having a tough time passing stool or is passing hard or dried stool. Their little digestive system sometimes needs time to adjust to initiating foods, so you cannot go wrong by taking your time, offering one new food every four to seven days.
- Physical exam. Your child’s pediatrician will also conduct a physical examination of your child, especially checking your child’s heartbeat, checking your child’s hips, examining the eyes, and watching his or her movements. Your pediatrician will also feel around his or her gums for signs that teeth may be on the way. Finally, they will be very interested in observing their eye contact, social smile, and temperament.
- Immunizations. The typical six-month immunization schedule will include DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), as well as pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), rotavirus, and HIB. Your baby should also receive a flu vaccine. Depending upon your little one’s schedule, your baby may also be due for the next round of polio and hepatitis B immunizations.
Just as your child’s pediatrician has questions, it’s likely you do too. And now is the perfect time to ask them. Some common queries at the six-month visit may include:
- What are the best ways to play with my baby?
- How can I help ease teething discomfort?
- How long should I plan on continuing to breastfeed?
- What foods do I begin with and how are they prepared?
- How much food at a time is appropriate?
- When do I know my baby is ready to move on to eating new foods?
- What foods shouldn’t I give my baby?
The 24-week milestones
There’s so much to look forward to when your baby reaches his or her sixth month of life. By now, your baby likely has a steady “vocabulary” of babbling sounds and may respond when you are talking. They also likely know the sound of their own names and love to play with you.
Some other milestones can include:
- Rocking back and forth or crawling backward.
- Sitting without support.
- Rolling over both front to back and back to front.
- Bringing things to his or her mouth.
- Passing objects from one hand to the other.
If your child’s arms, legs, or both appear very stiff or very floppy, talk to the doctor. While these symptoms are not always cause for concern, having them addressed as quickly as possible can help you anticipate and address any potential difficulties.