Your Baby: Months 4-8


Babies are exploring their surroundings and trying to make sense of everything around them. So now is the time to think about getting your baby a playpen and some suitable toys to keep him entertained.  

  • Since your baby is more active, spitting up is common at this age. Have a good supply of bibs. 
  • Once head control is achieved, at about 6 months, your baby will love playing gentle bouncing games. Sit him on your knees facing you, hold his hands and gently bounce him up and down while singing to him. 
  • Begin playing social games such as pat-a-cake and peekaboo.
  • Begin setting limits using distraction, reducing stimulation and establishing routines.
  • Discipline is never appropriate for babies. At this age, babies simply need your attention and affection. Your baby needs to know he can trust and depend on you. Remember, you cannot spoil your baby at this age.
  • Never yell at or spank your baby for any reason.
  • If you haven’t already, establish a bedtime routine. This will help your baby learn to go to sleep on his own.
  • Help your baby learn self-soothing techniques by providing him with the same stuffed animal, “special” blanket or favorite toy when he is fussy.

If you have gone back to work (at home or away), decide whether you’re happy with the child care arrangements you’ve made. For helpful information about finding a quality child care provider in your area go to in Arkansas or in Tennessee.

  • Moms and their partners need to keep in touch with friends to avoid feeling isolated. That connection keeps your relationship as a couple strong and loving. Some gatherings will be child friendly; others may be for adults only. Remember that although your baby may be the center of your universe, friends may tire of only hearing about your baby. 
  • Don’t forget to have fun! Go to the park, play under a blanket, tickle and giggle together.
  • Don’t use TV as a babysitter. Experts suggest holding off on TV or videos until age 2 to make the most of real-life interactions that are so important to your baby’s development.

Early learning

Babies are born learning. Every experience they have provides new knowledge. 

  • Continue holding, cuddling, talking and singing to your baby. Rock your baby as much as you can. Every interaction stimulates brain development.
  • Read brightly colored books to your baby. A love of reading will help your child succeed at every stage of life. 

Woman reading to a baby

  • Encourage speech development by talking to your 6-month-old throughout the day. 
  • Encourage creative play with age-appropriate toys – without spending a lot of money. Babies like to bounce, swing, reach for you, pick up and drop objects, and bang things together. Plastic measuring cups, large wooden spoons, pots, pans and plastic containers make great toys and are very inexpensive.


By 6 months of age, your baby should be able to:

  • Baby looking up at mobileSpeak single (hard) consonants, like “dada” (sorry mom!).
  • Roll over both ways (front to back and back to front).
  • Look for a toy dropped out of sight.
  • Hold his head up when put in a sitting position.
  • Sit with one hand on the ground for support (and will soon sit without support).
  • Grasp and mouth objects as before, but now can transfer small objects from one hand to another.
  • Rake at small objects but cannot pick them up yet because finger coordination is not precise enough.
  • Show displeasure with loss of a toy.
  • Recognize each parent and may even begin to show some stranger anxiety.
  • Attempt to feed himself.
  • Smile, laugh, squeal and imitate sounds.
  • Remain content in a playpen for a while playing with one or two toys.
  • Bear weight on his legs when held in a standing position (this will not make him bowlegged).

If you’re concerned, talk to your child’s doctor. 

As a parent, you know your child best. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his age, or if you think there could be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks or acts, talk to your child’s doctor and share your concerns. Don’t wait.

Eating right

It is around this time that feeding can get challenging. Remember that your baby is interested in things going on around him, and can be distracted by sights and sounds. He may get so distracted that he can’t settle down to eat or will take a few swallows of formula or breast milk, then stop and look around. Try to keep distracting sounds and objects to a minimum. 

Introducing solid foods

Most pediatricians recommend starting solid foods at 6 months of age. If your baby sits well when supported, holds his head up and seems to be hungry, it may be time to introduce infant cereal to your baby’s diet. Begin with infant rice cereal. 

  • Mix a couple of teaspoons of cereal with breast milk or formula until it becomes a thin soup. 
  • Place the spoon about halfway back on your baby’s tongue. Since babies have a tongue reflex that causes them to push anything out of their mouths, they must learn to swallow. Spoon placement helps overcome the tongue reflex. If your baby pushes the cereal (or anything else) out, it doesn’t always mean he doesn’t like it.
  • As your baby gets the hang of eating, increase the thickness and amount of the cereal. 

Mom spoon feeding baby


Oral health 

Although newborns usually have no visible teeth, most have at least a partially developed set of baby teeth below the gums. During the first few years of life, all 20 of the baby teeth will break through the gums. These teeth usually begin appearing about six months after birth, and most children have their full set of baby teeth by age 3. As their teeth come in, some babies may become fussy, sleepless and irritable, lose their appetites or drool more than usual. 

Diarrhea, rashes and fever are not normal for a teething baby. If your infant has a fever or diarrhea while teething or continues to be cranky and uncomfortable, it’s probably not because of teething. Call your baby’s doctor.

Some babies may have sore or tender gums when teeth begin to break through. 

  • Gently rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger, a cool spoon or a wet gauze pad.
  • A clean teething ring made of hard rubber may also help. 
  • Pain relievers and many medications that you rub on the gums are not useful and can even be harmful.
  • Brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a little bit of water to prevent tooth decay. 
  • Toothpaste with fluoride is not recommended until a child reaches age 2.
  • Never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle, either at nap time or at night. Milk or juice will pool around the teeth, causing decay.
  • After your child’s first tooth appears but no later than his first birthday, begin regular dental checkups.


Baby crawling on momThe two front teeth (central incisors), either upper or lower, usually appear first, followed by the opposite front teeth. The first molars (in the upper or lower jaw) come in next, followed by the canines or eyeteeth. There is great variability in the timing of teething. If your child doesn’t show any teeth until later, don’t worry.


Sleep at this age

  • Encourage your baby to soothe himself by putting him to bed with a stuffed toy while he is still awake.
  • The length and/or frequency of naps may begin decreasing.
  • Your baby may begin showing signs of separation anxiety at nap time or bedtime. He loves and depends on you, and when he can’t see you, he thinks you’ve gone away. Separation anxiety will be discussed in more detail in the segment of this book titled “Months 9–12” on pages 104-105.
  • Your baby may begin waking up for short periods during the night. When this happens, check on your baby, but keep the visit brief. Avoid exciting your infant, and leave the room quickly once you feel everything is OK.


Your child’s safety begins with you 

Baby on floor chewing on toyAccidents are going to happen, but when you take the following precautions, they may happen less frequently and be less serious.

  • Remove mobiles from the crib and playpen once your child learns to stand up.
  • Keep toys with small parts out of reach. 
  • If a toy or part can fit inside a toilet paper tube, it’s too small.
  • Never give young children small balls or balloons. 
  • Look for labels on toys that give age and safety recommendations.
  • Avoid toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches.
  • Toy chests should have lids that stay open or that are very light and removable. 
  • Use only stationary play centers; they are safer than walkers with wheels.
  • Be sure equipment and toys have not been recalled for safety reasons. Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 to check for a recall on your used equipment.



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