How your baby grows and develops: 4-6 months

Milestones matter! How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about their development.

This is a general guide to infants from four to six months of age. Remember, each child is unique and will grow and develop at their own pace. It is normal for a child to be behind in some areas and ahead in others. For babies born prematurely, milestones are based on their corrected age (your baby’s actual age minus the number of weeks or months they were born early).

Babies can’t be spoiled so feel free to play, cuddle and respond to all your baby’s cues and cries. You can help your baby learn and grow.

By six months babies are increasingly aware of other people and new surroundings.  Your baby may want to interact with more people and other children.

By 6 months your baby is getting more interactive and may: You can help your baby learn by: Safety tip:
  • Recognize familiar faces and knows if someone is a stranger
  • Like to play with others, especially parents
  • Respond to other people’s emotions. You may notice that they smile or laugh when you are playful and happy and may cry if you seem angry or upset.
  • Talking to your baby to help them understand and have language for their feelings. For example, say, “You seem upset. Are you tired? Is it time for your nap?”
  • Learning to read your baby’s moods. If he’s happy, keep doing what you are doing. If he’s upset, take a break and comfort your baby.
  • Showing your baby how to self-comfort when they are upset. For example, they may suck on her fingers to self soothe.
Never shake your baby.  If you are feeling tired and frustrated ask someone else to watch your baby while you take time to calm down, or gently place your baby in the crib, cradle or bassinet and leave the room to get your feelings under control.  Shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage and even death. See Why is my baby crying? What can I do? for tips on comforting your baby and staying calm.

It is so exciting to hear your baby learn to interact with others. All their little coos and babbles are the beginnings of speech.

By six months your baby is to develop language skills and may: You can help your baby learn by: Hot parent tip:
  • Talk back by responding to your sound by making a sound back
  • Say consonant sounds such as “eh”, “ah” and “oh”
  • Respond to their name
  • Make sounds to tell you that they are happy or unhappy
  • Uses their voice to get attention and express feelings
  • Talking, reading and singing to your baby throughout the day
  • Having “conversations” with your baby by replying to their babbles. Repeat the sound and wait them to make another.
  • Placing baby in a highchair or somewhere they can watch your everyday activities. Explain what you are doing and let baby see, touch and hear common objects.
  • Using “reciprocal” play—when baby smiles, you smile; when they make sounds, you copy them.
  • Repeating your child’s sounds and say simple words with those sounds. For example, if your child says “bah,” say “bottle” or “book.”
  • Baby talk is fine but also speak real words to your baby to helps them learn language and meaning.
  • When you ask your baby a question, give them plenty of time to respond. It takes a while for the baby to think and then make a sound back.

Safety tip:

  • When seating baby so that they can watch you, use a highchair with safety straps, a play pen or a baby chair on the floor. Never place a child seat on a raised surface such as a table.

More and more, your baby is learning how to get things that they want and is curious about things around them.

By six months your baby is becoming more curious about the world around her and may: You can help your baby learn by: Safety tip:
  • May be curious and try to get objects that are out-of-reach
  • Look around and notice more things
  • Bring items to mouth
  • Pass things from one hand to the other
  • Reading books to your child every day. Praise her when she babbles and “reads” too.
  • When your baby looks at something, pointing to it and talking about it
  • When baby drops a toy on the floor, picking it up and giving it back. This game helps them learn cause and effect.
  • Pointing out items around your home to your baby and name them
  • If you have older children, make sure that toys, toy parts and other items that baby can reach are large enough that baby can’t choke on it. If there are older children in the home, be sure to keep their toys with small parts safely away from baby. See Prevent Choking for more information on how to keep your baby safe.
  • Avoid letting your baby watch the television, smart phone or computer screen. Screen time is not recommended for children under two years of age.
  • Model healthy screen use by turning off screens when not in use and avoid having the TV playing in the background.

Movement, skills and strength develop so quickly. Playing with your baby as they grow and develop helps them develop new abilities.  Anticipating what your baby will be able to do next will help you plan and keep your baby safer.

By six months your baby is becoming a bit independent and may: You can help your baby learn by: Safety tips:
  • Roll both ways – from front to back and from back to their front.
  • Sit without support
  • Support weight on legs and may bounce when standing
  • Pick up small toys with one hand and transfer them from one hand to the others.
  • Rock back and forth, or crawl backward before moving forward
  • Playing on the floor with your baby every day
  • Encouraging rolling by placing a toy within sight and a little bit out of reach so they can roll to get the toy
  • Holding your baby up while they sit or support them with pillows. Provide only as much support as baby needs. Let your baby look around and give them toys to look at while they balance.
  • Many babies will enjoy playing with “shakers” that make noise. To make a shaker for your baby, fill a small plastic bottle (e.g. a medicine bottle with a child proof cap) with beans or rice. Let your baby shake it to make noise. You can then create another shaker with something different inside. See if your baby prefers one sounds over the other.
  • Babies roll. Always keep one hand on your baby when they are on high surfaces like change tables to prevent a fall.
  • Use harness straps on car seats, change tables and other baby equipment
  • Small items are a choking hazard for babies. Keep small things safely away from baby.
  • Babies need to sleep in a safe sleep environment – placed on their back in a crib, cradle or bassinet with a firm mattress, with no pillows, blankets, toys.
  • Once babies learn how to roll, they soon figure out how to get from one place to another. Remove items which could be within baby’s reach and that could be dangerous. Use baby gates, close doors and supervise your baby’s play to keep them safe.
  • Baby walkers with wheels are no longer sold in Canada as they are very unsafe and they do not help babies learn to walk. Stationary exersaucers are safer options.

You Know Your Child Best

Act early if you have concerns about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, or if your child:

  • Is missing milestones
  • Doesn’t try to get things that are in reach
  • Shows no affection for caregivers
  • Doesn’t respond to sounds around them
  • Has difficulty getting things to mouth
  • Doesn’t make vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”)
  • Doesn’t roll over in either direction
  • Doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds
  • Seems very stiff, with tight muscles
  • Seems very floppy, like a rag doll

Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay and ask for a developmental screening.  DON’T WAIT. Acting early can make a real difference!

For more information:


Caring for Kids: Information for Parents from Canada’s Paediatricians

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC’s Developmental Milestones