- Family and Parenting
Post #5: Imogen Rose in August, at Six Months of Age
Routine & Sleep
Sleep has been disrupted in this sixth month as our baby suffers some pain from teething. We can tell she is teething because she chews and gnaws on everything and drools enough to wear a bib to keep her shirt-front dry. Imogen is still following her nap routine with one long and one short nap each day. Teething has (again) disrupted her daytime sleep, but not consistently.
Teething will wake a baby who has fallen asleep and sometimes disrupt the sleep routine you have established. You may need to begin sleep training with your baby, which is the process of helping your baby learn to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. By six months many babies have developed a regular sleep-wake cycle. If you have not done this, introduce a bedtime ritual which may include a warm bath, reading a book, a lullaby or a short snuggle before putting your child in bed. I swaddle Imogen securely and lay her down for naps at consistent times each day after making sure she is full and dry. If she follows a predictable daytime schedule, her chances for successful nighttime sleep will increase.
If your baby is having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, there are many ways to teach healthy sleep habits to your child. See the resources listed below for books and articles on this topic.
The big milestone in this month is sitting up and our baby is right on schedule. She is rolling more frequently and more competently. She rolls around and twists around on her tummy on the blanket to get what she wants. She rolls from her tummy to her back and back again to her tummy. And Imogen is sitting upright unaided for longer periods each day. As her sitting stabilizes, she will begin to reach for what she wants and expand her skills in moving around. Imogen is also beginning to scoot her body forward while on her tummy. This is the beginning of her learning to crawl.
Our baby is handling toys with a lot more dexterity than last month. She can grab with either or both hands and is more successful than ever before in grasping what she aims for. And she is more successful in getting things in her hands into her mouth.
Being able to grasp and hold things in her hands securely is one of Imogen’s first steps to feeding herself, to reading and writing, and for self-care. This ability to grasp will further develop during the next couple of months so that she will be able to pick up items and put them into her mouth. (-which she does pretty well right now.) She will rake objects toward her and move them from hand to hand. Finally, she will be able to pick things with her pointer finger and thumb.
Play & Socialization
Imogen’s playtime has expanded and she is more engaged with her brother and cousin as well as with others. Play has become more vigorous and Imogen loves me to bounce her on my knee while singing nursery rhymes. She likes to be lifted up high and swung around. She bangs her toys on the table or floor and enthusiastically shakes her toy keys.
Poking, twisting, squeezing, shaking and dropping her toys fascinate her. Some of Imogen’s favorite toys are from my kitchen drawer: spatulas, measuring spoons and cups, jar lids and wooden spoons that she manipulates & chews on while sitting in the sink or on the floor.
I will share a note of caution here. Please know that I keep our baby safe, so when I’m cooking she is in her playpen or bouncy chair instead of close enough to get splashed or burned. I wash her toys frequently and make sure they are safe for her to handle and chew.
She loves the game of “peek-a-boo” and is beginning to talk to us and enjoys hearing her own voice. Imogen blows 'raspberries' on her arm, our arms and the kitchen sink. She is learning what her mouth can do and it is fascinating.
She is also beginning to grasp our hair - and pull it! Imogen also loves to give us open-mouthed ‘kisses’ and hugs and she gets hugs and kisses in return.
However, Imogen does get ‘shy’ when she is in a big crowd of people and is just beginning to show signs of separation anxiety and stranger anxiety. This will become more intense before it gets better and I will discuss separation anxiety in a later post.
Since literacy begins at birth as we interact with Imogen, we know she is already gaining skills to read and write. Reading is more interactive and fun for us now. Imogen loves to chew on her books and sits in my lap while I read to her brother. She likes to hold onto the pages as I read aloud and is learning that books offer visual and auditory interest. She listens intently to books with strong rhyming and rhythm. Cloth or board books are great for this age.
In addition, Imogen loves the strong rhythms and rhymes of the nursery songs I sing to her as I bounce her on my knees. She wants to stand on my lap and 'dance' as I gently support her upright body. She gains self-confidence as she is successful in grabbing, sitting and standing.
The grasping and dexterity skills are beginnings of learning to hold writing utensils. Shaking and manipulating her toys builds strength in her hands and arms. And the reciprocal exchanges when we play with her (first you talk, then I talk, then you again) will help her succeed in school.
Eating & teething
Imogen has not begun to eat solids yet but sits at the table and smiles at us while we eat. She is learning about eating by watching us and socializing while she chews on teething rings. Her mother may begin introducing foods this month. There is no optimal age for babies to begin solid foods.
Some readiness cues for feeding solids include: 1. babies who are older than four months, 2. can sit up and hold their head up straight, 3. have oral motor skills to handle solid foods, 4. can take food into their mouth instead of pushing the food back out, and 5. is interested in foods you are eating. I believe that it’s best to allow your baby to decide whether to eat, how fast and how much to eat. Your job is to provide nutritious foods and to encourage healthy eating behaviors.
For babies who are eating solids and are teething, try placing frozen peas and carrots on their food tray. These soft vegetables defrost quickly, are nutritious and sooth baby’s gums. A wet washcloth placed in the freezer is another favorite teether.
The Baby Center at: https://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sleep-training-the-basics_1505715.bc?scid=mbtw_baby_post5m_3w&pe=MlVHb3dUY3wyMDE3MDcyMg..&liveconnect=7e7d1881bfebabd143c83f840b3de067babyc.425322
The Baby Center sleep training article: https://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sleep-training-cry-it-out-methods_1497112.bc
The Science of Mom at: https://scienceofmom.com/2015/05/28/4-signs-your-baby-is-ready-for-solid-foods/
Zero to Three at: https://www.zerotothree.org/early-learning/early-literacy
Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber
Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter
Fearless Feeding by Jill Castle & Maryann Jacobsen
The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First Year by Alice Callahan.