A New Parents' Guide to Baby Sleep and Routine: Caring for your baby at 6-12 months

Published: 09/04/2021

This is the seventh part in our series, a guide for new parents and how to take care of your baby. This section focuses on babies at 6-12 months old, their physical and mental development, mobility (crawling), sleep, social development, feeding and teething. 

As previously established, your baby will begin to roll and become more mobile from 4-6 months old. Now at 6 months old, watch them get even more mobile! Here’s what to expect from a baby between the ages of 6 months and a year.

When will my baby start crawling?

Your baby will start ‘commando crawling’ at 6 months old, so be aware of your surroundings. As they become more mobile, there will be more things for them to grab at, so keep your eyes open for any potential hazards. 

Should my 6-month-old baby be sleeping through the night?

If your baby has developed positive sleep associations and has a good night time routine, they should be sleeping completely through the night, between the hours of 7pm through until 6am. If this is not the case however, don’t panic! Infant sleep is one of the major causes of parental anxiety (and tiredness) in the first year of your baby’s life. With baby sleep routines, consistency - and patience - is key.

If your baby is eating three meals rich in vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and calcium a day, along with 550ml of formula milk, yet are still regularly waking in the night, seek professional guidance to help you navigate the issue.

As your baby surpasses the 6 month mark, they will begin to sleep less, reducing to 2 naps during the day and sleeping for 15 to 16 hours in every 24-hour period.

Socialising your baby

From 6 months onwards, your baby will begin to be more sociable, although at this stage they may be shy with strangers. From the time your baby is one, they will be using a few identifiable words and, by two years old, using 200+ words. 

They may begin to experience separation anxiety when you leave a room, as they will not yet understand that although you have gone away, you will come back. This does, however, make ‘peekaboo’ a great game, as they currently believe that if they can’t see you, then you can’t see them! 

They will deliberately throw things down for the sheer delight of you returning them. They will also begin learning to feed themselves. Once they can sit steadily, sit them in a highchair and offer them a spoon to begin this learning process.

Caring for your baby at 6-12 months: socialising your baby

Transitioning your baby to whole foods

Weaning your 6 month old baby

By 6 months old, your baby will be fully weaned or well on their way and will be ready to start second-stage weaning. From 7 months old, some soft lumps and textures need to be introduced into your baby’s meals, together with an introduction to finger foods. There is a ‘window of opportunity’ from the point of first weaning to 7 months old where babies are adaptable to new tastes and textures. After this point, they can get pickier with the foods they are introduced to and, if left too long, can become resistant to anything new, flavour or texture wise. 

The muscles used for chewing are those which need to be developed to assist with speech development, so it is an opportunity to start mashing softer foods: potatoes, squash, red lentils, etc. Chewier foods, such as meat, will need to be pulsed over the coming month, yet as your baby gets more familiar, you can reduce the pulsing time to gradually increase the texture. Babies can chew effectively with their gums, so this lack of teeth does not present a barrier.

Between 7 months and a year, your baby will gradually transition from soft mashed foods to chopped up foods, which ideally would be mostly the same family meals that you have.

Along with mashed foods at this time, finger foods can be introduced, which can also assist self-feeding skills. To begin with, a baby breadstick, rice cake or soft pieces of banana are ideal. A piece of toast and spread as part of breakfast, some finely grated cheese or avocado are also good choices. There are plenty of good weaning books to get menu and snack ideas from; just choose one that suits your own instincts and style.

It can help not to offer fluids immediately before or during a meal as the volume of fluid can reduce appetite in some infants. A beaker of water after a meal is preferable.

Many parents worry about a choking risk when babies start weaning, so it is a good idea to get a childhood first aid manual or to consider a first aid course to know how to manage any emergencies. It is important to know that almost all babies can cough and splutter in a most dramatic fashion when presented with new tastes or a new weaning phase. However, knowing how to manage the situation calmly is certainly beneficial.

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