Updated by Baby Center
Exploring with his hands
By the time he's about six months old (though sometimes it takes a little longer), your baby's hand control is developed enough that he can pull an object towards him. Once he's learned to grab a toy, he'll start to practice moving objects from one hand to the other. Plus, he may discover that letting go of something is as much fun as picking it up. Once he understands the concept of cause and effect, your baby's world will become more interesting ...
and yours a good deal messier.
Left or right-handed?
AdvertisementIt's still too early to tell whether your baby is left- or right-handed. At this stage, most babies seem to favour one hand for a while and then switch to the other. True left or right-handedness won't really be determined until he's between two and three years old.
Learning to roll over
By this age, most babies have learned to roll over in each direction, a milestone that will probably amuse you - and him. Of course, while rolling over is fun for your baby, it could wrack a few nerves for you. Keep a hand on your baby during nappy changes, and never leave him unattended on a bed or any other raised up surface. If you use a changing table, now might be a good time to start putting the changing mat on the floor instead.
Your little social animal
At this age babies not only tolerate attention from others, they often initiate it. Though you may soon notice the beginnings of stranger anxiety, six-month-olds are still fairly indiscriminate: anyone who approaches your baby with raised eyebrows or a grin delights him and becomes an instant friend. But don't worry - he still needs and craves lots of attention from you.
Your baby is also learning that his behaviours, both the ones you like and the ones you don't, engage you, so starting now (and for years to come) your child will do just about anything to get your attention. Right now almost everything he does is endearing, but as he gets older, he's more likely to get into mischief to provoke a reaction from you. Just don't forget to lavish attention on him when he meets with your approval.
One thing will become clear: your baby is beginning to vary his attention-getting repertoire beyond crying. So expect him to work hard to get you to notice him by wriggling, making noises and so on. Over the next three months, he'll develop a uniquely personal way of letting you know what he thinks, wants and needs.
Playing turn-taking games
Six-month-olds love turn-taking games, especially ones that involve sounds and language. Let your baby be the leader sometimes, and mimic his vocalisations. When it's your turn to lead, a good way to teach your child - and make him laugh at the same time - is to make animal noises ("quack-quack," "bow-wow" and so on).
Your baby the babbler
By six months your baby sees and hears the world almost as well as you do. His communication skills are expanding rapidly, too, including squeals, bubbling sounds, operatic octave changes and babbling. At this age, about half of all babies babble, repeating one syllable - such as "ba," "ma," "ga," or other consonant-vowel combinations - over and over. A few will even add another syllable or two, making their sounds more complex. You can encourage your baby by babbling right back at him and by making a game of it ("The sheep says, 'baaa,'" or "The goat says, 'maaa,'" and so on), or by listening as if you understand everything he says and find it extremely interesting. Your baby can also recognise different tones and inflections and may cry now if you speak to him harshly.
A guaranteed way to delight your baby is to fill a glass three-quarters full and use a straw to blow bubbles. Both the sound and sight will make him laugh.
Stimulating his senses
Your baby uses all of his senses to explore and learn about his world. Make sure he has lots of safe things around to touch, mouth and manipulate. He'll delight in squishing a soft rubber ball, patting a piece of fake fur, gnawing a chilled teething ring and hearing a bell sound inside a stuffed animal.
Getting a kick out of story hour
Reading aloud to your child comes into its own now, as he will enjoy looking at bright pictures and having a quiet snuggle on your lap. No matter what your child's age, of course, reading provides an opportunity for cuddling and socialising that both baby and parent can appreciate.
Is my baby developing normally?
Remember, each baby is unique and meets physical milestones at his or her own pace. These skills are simply a guide to what your baby has the potential to accomplish - if not right now, then shortly.
And if your baby was born prematurely, you'll probably find that it will be a little while before he can do the same things as other children his age. Don't worry, most doctors assess a premature child's development from the time he should have been born and evaluate his skills accordingly.