Welcome to parenthood! Your baby has arrived & every week will bring something new. Here’s how your little one will grow & develop in the first six months
There’s no doubt that parenting is a rollercoaster ride, but the love you feel for your precious new baby will make the sleepless nights and endless nappies worth it. Your baby will develop so fast – from a tiny, helpless newborn to a squealing, smiling, boisterous baby with a distinctive personality. You’ll change, too, as you get to grips with all the thrills and spills of being a parent. Discover the exciting milestones ahead for your baby, plus some handy tips for you, in our month-by-month guide to the first six months.
Your baby at four weeks
Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! No doubt, your baby is at the center of your world. But have you been wondering how the world looks to your little one? In the early days, they can’t focus on anything further away than 20-40cm – that’s just far enough to gaze at your face during feeds.
Milestones in month one includes reacting to sounds and gaining weight from week two. In coming weeks, you can look forward to the occasional smile and a little cooing between crying (now there’s a change!). But don’t worry if your baby isn’t doing it by the book. Babies reach milestones in their own sweet, and unpredictable, time.
Giving a Vitamin D supplement
The department of health recommends that all breastfed babies are given a daily vitamin D supplement of 8.5 to 10 micrograms. Bottle-fed babies shouldn't be given a vitamin D supplement if they are having more than 500ml (a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula already contains vitamin D.
Caring for baby’s skin
Some things are common to every newborn, though, including delicate skin. Natural oils protect babies’ skin and it’s best to let them be. For now try to use water only for cleaning your baby but as they move into their second month you can start to use gentle baby toiletries.
Focus on you: early days
Your days will be packed with new experiences, especially if this is your first baby. From mastering breastfeeds to baby’s first bath caring for a tiny baby is a big adventure.
And when you’re tackling about 12 nappy changes a day, you may just want a quick link to buy newborn nappies (and a reminder that we’ll deliver direct to your door – phew!).
Don’t forget that you need some TLC after the birth, too. Rest when you can, eat well and remember that it’s normal for your body to go through changes after childbirth.
Your baby at two months
There’s more to life than feeding, sleeping and filling nappies – just think about the giant leaps in development your baby is making. By the end of month two, your baby will have sharper senses and a steadier head. Babies around this age often start lifting their heads while lying on their tummies. Your baby’s patterns and preferences will begin to give you a sense of a developing personality, too.
Get those jabs
You’ll probably be visiting your GP to start your baby’s immunization schedule. Vaccinations due this month protect against diseases including polio, tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, pneumococcal infection and meningitis.
While you’re at the GP, you may want to chat about how your baby’s getting along. Colic and reflux are common conditions that can disrupt your baby’s feeding routine, and often come with constant or out-of-the-ordinary patterns of crying. Read our expert guide to common feeding problems, and remember that your health visitor and Boots pharmacist are also there to help.
And if you’re still getting the knack of breastfeeding, you’re not alone. Watch three mums sharing their experiences in ‘Easy feeding our way’.
Focus on you: me-time matters
Little by little, your body will be recovering. Be patient with your progress. It’s generally best to wait until after your postnatal check before doing any vigorous exercise, which is around six to eight weeks after the birth. Make a gentle start with walking or swimming, once postnatal bleeding stops. If you have had a caesarean your recovery might take a bit longer
Snatching a little ‘me-time’ can help you get back to feeling your best, too. Ditch chores that don’t matter, and rest when your baby does. And check out the range of gorgeous skincare for new mums – you deserve a treat.
Your baby at three months
Until now, your little one has probably been snatching sleep in short bursts between feeds (and so have you!). But your baby’s developing stomach may now be able to cope with more milk at a time. That could signal fewer night feeds and, eventually more sleep for you both – but every baby is different. If you think yours may be ready to sleep through, read our expert guide to getting your baby off to the land of nod.
Getting into a routine
It can take time to establish a routine, so hang in there – and remember it’s all worth it. Year one is full of unforgettable firsts. If you’ve already witnessed that first spontaneous smile or squeal of delight, then you’ll know what we mean. And don’t forget to capture the moment on camera. (Think photo gifts for Christmas or birthdays!)
Playing and smiling
Play shoots up your baby’s agenda this month, and those weeks of dedicated care will be rewarded with heart-melting gurgles, coos and smiles. Your three-month-old may even be giving their hands a workout – opening and closing them, regarding them with fascination and reaching for objects. Find out how you can help your baby to develop and learn through play.
If you’re still breastfeeding, try to stick with it. As the healthiest way to feed your baby, exclusive nursing is recommended by the Department of Health until six months. Watch our real mums talking about their breastfeeding experience, or talk to your health visitor or GP for advice.
Breastfeeding can be a healthy choice for you, too, as studies have shown that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer. It also naturally uses up about 500 extra calories a day, so it’s important to eat well and stay hydrated.
Your baby at four months
Hold off on solids
Thinking about weaning? Best to wait a while, unless your health visitor or GP advises otherwise.
The Department of Health says babies should be exclusively breastfed until around six months, when you should start introducing them to solid foods, as this is when your baby’s digestive system can best cope with food. But it’s never too early to get informed about starting solids – read our guide to weaning.
Playing in the bath
Your increasingly sociable baby will be interacting and enjoying play more. It’s the perfect time to introduce a few games into routines – look for some age-appropriate bath time toys, and remember to never leave your baby unattended in the bath.
The post-bath routine is important, too, especially when it comes to avoiding nappy rash. Help keep irritation at bay by building in nappy-free time and making sure their bottom is completely dry before putting on a fresh nappy.
You may even find yourself having something of a conversation. But while a ‘chatty’ baby makes for charming company, no doubt there’ll be times when you crave something more stimulating than a stream of coos, oohs and aahs.
Your baby at five months
Starting on solids
Your five-month-old is getting ready to make another big leap. Milestones to watch for include sharper vision, a stronger grasp and the strength to sit upright for longer. All these could be signs that your baby is nearly ready to start on solids. The Department of Health advises that weaning should begin at around six months.
While you keep an eye out for the signs, you may want to consider the approach you’ll take. Whether you start with purées or baby-led weaning, you’ll soon work out what suits your baby.
You won’t need special kit to get started, but investing in a highchair can make the whole business easier to handle. One that’s easy to clean is always a bonus – discovering new tastes and textures can be a messy business!
Focus on you: Getting your groove back
You may be wondering when you’ll regain your pre-baby fitness. Take heart – it’s a gradual process. It’s all about setting yourself achievable goals and accepting your new post-baby body. You grew that amazing little person in the pushchair – your body has done something extraordinary so applaud that amazing mum bod!
Your baby at six months
Sitting up and rolling
Congratulations – you’re halfway to birthday number one. At six months, your little one may be starting to sit up without help and rolling between back and stomach and could even be making their first attempts to crawl. And with all these new movements they’ve learned, they’ll be giving their clothes a real workout.
From six months, the Department of Health advises giving your child a daily supplement in the form of drops containing vitamins A, C and D. Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day shouldn’t be given vitamin supplements because formula is fortified with certain nutrients, and no other supplementation is required. Talk to your health visitor about which drops to choose.
Caring for teeth
With first teeth typically on their way at six months, it’s time to get wise about caring for milk teeth. Brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth cuts through, but you can start good habits earlier by cleaning your baby’s gums with a clean flannel. Read our tips on brushing baby and toddler teeth to start good habits early.
Along with a toothy grin, six-month-old often acquire the gift of the gab. Babbling –when your baby repeats sounds like ‘ba’ and ‘da’ in sentence-like strings – helps make the connections between mind and mouth that will eventually lead to speech.
From first tooth to first words, there’s no way of knowing exactly when your baby will hit each milestone. But there is plenty you can do to help. Try these suggestions for helping your little one learn how to talk.