Congratulations. Your infant is now 6 months old and developing into a little person. He or she is learning new motor skills and discovering the world around him or her. Developing hand-eye coordination is a big step for your baby, and starts with hand-to-mouth motions.

Your baby is not necessarily hungry when he or she puts things into his or her mouth. He or she is exploring new objects.

It is important to provide your child with a variety of safe materials to see, touch, and put in his or her mouth. He or she will enjoy simple, safe, brightly colored toys such as balls and blocks the most. Placing him on her stomach on the floor or in a playpen is essential for developing visual and motor skills, such as reaching and grasping objects. Alternating positions — stomach, back, and sitting up — will keep him or her from getting bored.

Six-month-olds are able to play by themselves for short periods of time. Play is the work of the child and becomes more complex and more thematic, and lasts longer as he or she grows older. Playing allows your infant to learn and practice new motor skills. You will notice him or her repeating activities over and over as he or she figures out how things work and learns to think for himself or herself.

He or she will also explore his or her feelings through play. By playing with your baby, you will strengthen your relationship and enhance the quality and duration of his or her play. However, be aware of over-stimulation or "overload," which can overwhelm your infant causing him or her to "tune out." At this time, it is important to sit back and let him or her lead the play activity.

Mealtime is another learning experience. Your infant is now ready for three meals of solid foods a day. One cereal and two vegetable or fruit servings each day is recommended. Each meal should also include breast milk or formula. He or she most likely will take another bottle in the evening. It is normal for your baby to decrease the amount of formula at each feeding as his or her intake of other foods increases. He or she can begin feeding himself or herself soft foods such as mashed potatoes or cooked carrots. It will be messy, but fun. Meats can be introduced at 8 to 9 months of age.

Your infant is also becoming more vocal — babbling, laughing, and squealing. He or she also enjoys smiling in a mirror and you reading to him or her. Please refer to the safety information below.

  • A playpen is a safe environment in which to play.
  • DO NOT place your infant in a walker. It is unsafe at any age and at any speed.
  • Cover electrical outlets.
  • Eliminate home hazards:
    ­Dangling cords
    ­Pot and pan handles on the stove
    ­Hot liquids
    ­Table cloths
    ­Small objects that can be swallowed
  • Keep medicines and poisons in locked cabinets. If a poison is swallowed, call the POISON CONTROL CENTER toll-free at 800.222.1222.
  • Keep poisonous house plants out of reach.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/15/2012...#4746