The Ngala Guide to looking after your baby from 3-6 months

By Jo Hartley

5 minutes

11 March 2019

The Ngala Guide to looking after your baby from 3-6 months

You’ve settled into parenthood, your confidence is growing and you’re starting to relax after making your way through the 'fourth trimester'.

Facing the next part of your parenting journey is exciting as your baby continues to grow.

Ngala practice consultant educator, Kim Johnson, tells us what’s ahead in the next three months.

What to expect and key milestones

“Between three and four months, your baby will begin to laugh and smile when he likes something, and will make sounds like ‘ah goo’ as he practices ‘talking’ to you and himself,” says Johnson.

“He recognises important family members and cries if they’re not responding enough.”

At this time, babies increase their reaching and touching, using their eyes for guidance and their hands and mouths to learn by touch and taste.

“Your baby can control his head position and is starting to move his body more by reaching, wriggling and rolling,” says Johnson.

Around five to six months, babies develop a stronger sense of ‘stranger anxiety’ which helps them learn about feeling safe and adapting to new people. 

Feeding

By six months, babies generally feed five to six times in 24 hours and will refuse food once they’re full.

“Breastfed babies need an average of 750-800ml of breastmilk per day,” says Johnson.

“Formula fed babies need around 120ml of formula per kilogram of body weight.”

Signs that your baby is ready for solids include good head and neck control, an interest in food and an open mouth when offered food.

Ideal starter foods include those rich in iron, such as infant rice cereal, minced meat, poultry and fish, cooked tofu and legumes and mashed and cooked egg (avoid raw or runny egg).

Additional healthy foods to try include cooked vegetables and fruit.

“Solids can initially be given after breast or bottle feeding, and only need to be 1-2 teaspoons in quantity,” says Johnson. “Solids are not recommended before four months.”

Read more expert dietician tips about introducing solid foods to your baby here

Emotions

Three to six months is when your baby starts to express emotions, making his likes and dislikes clear.

“At this age, babies start squealing with happiness, joy and pleasure, and smile when they want to,” says Johnson. “They’ll also grunt, frown and cry if angry or sad.”

Johnson says that it’s important to respond to your baby’s emotional cues, and this varies depending on the situation.

“When your baby meets new people or is in an unfamiliar place, reassure him that everything’s ok by using a soothing voice,” says Johnson. “If you comfort your baby when he’s crying or upset and put emotion to your words, he’ll learn that he’s safe.”

Language

As babies’ brains develop, they recognise sounds, tones and words associated with events. The more words they hear, the more they understand and use as they grow.

“Babies vocalise with tuneful cooing and babbling which can sound like words,” says Johnson.

“You can never fully interpret your baby’s sounds, but responding by talking about what you’re doing is important, whether it’s changing nappies or travelling in the car.”

Johnson says to notice what your baby is paying attention to and talk about that. For example, if she’s playing with blocks, talk about the blocks.

“Use lots of expression to make your conversation interesting and engaging. What you talk about doesn’t matter as much as how you talk about it.”

Sitting

Around four to five months, babies will generally start to roll back and forth and have better control of their movement. Johnson says that floor play and tummy time can be a good way to encourage this.

Signs that your baby may be ready to sit include good head control and the ability to push themselves up when lying on their tummy.

“Babies normally sit when their backs are strong and straight,” says Johnson. “This is usually around five to six months when they can sit with support.”

If your baby isn’t sitting by six months, there’s nothing to worry about. Babies reach milestones at different times. It’s what makes them all so unique.

Tips for parents

Stimulate senses

“Babies learn everything through their senses at this stage, so provide normal experiences that include seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting,” says Johnson.

“Stimulating their senses doesn’t require special activities.”

Interactions

“A warm and responsive interaction from parents will help a baby feel safe,” says Johnson.

“Pay attention to baby’s cues and respond to them the best you can.”

Nappies and clothing

“Choose clothes that are suitable for the season, ensuring that your baby is not overheating or too cold,” says Johnson.

“There’s no right or wrong with clothing and nappies. It really comes down to personal preference.”

RELATED: 8 ways a pharmacist can help new parents in the first three months

Food allergies

“An allergic reaction usually occurs within minutes or up to two hours after your baby comes into contact with, or eats the substance that he’s allergic to,” says Johnson.

If the allergic reaction is mild or moderate, your baby’s symptoms will usually include one or more of the following; rash, hives or welts, swelling of the face, eyes or lips.

A paediatric allergist will be able to give you specialist advice if your baby has an allergic reaction to a food, so make an appointment with your GP for a referral.

If he experiences severe symptoms like difficult or noisy breathing and/or swelling of the tongue, seek medical attention immediately.

There’s help if you need it

If you need reassurance or advice, call Ngala’s Parenting Line on 9368 9368 or attend an early parenting group at various centres across the Perth metro area.

With a referral to the day stay service, Ngala can offer hands on support with feeding and settling your baby.

Visit ngala.com.au for more information or email ngala@ngala.com.au

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