6 month old baby: Development & nutrition advice
Any old iron?
At 6 months, iron stores start to run low
Now that your baby’s digestive system is more developed and the natural stores of iron they were born with are running low, it is the perfect time to introduce them to their first foods. A more varied, solid diet – including extra iron – is vital for your 6-month-old baby to support their continuing brain and muscle development.
What’s happening this month?
Your 6-month-old baby is about to reach a significant development milestone – their first taste of ‘solid’ food. If you are breastfeeding, this may feel like the beginning of a new phase, as your baby starts to rely less on you for their nutrition. However, your breast milk is still a very important part of the diet while solid foods are slowly introduced over the next few weeks and months.
Weaning at six months coincides with the natural depletion of the iron stores your baby was born with. Therefore, it is important to replenish them with an iron-rich weaning diet alongside their usual milk.
Your baby’s developing brain
By six months, your baby will usually be able to roll over from back to front. And, if you hold them while they are standing, they can take weight on their legs. Now they are sitting up unaided, they may turn their head from side to side, which might seem like a disadvantage when you are trying to manoeuvre a spoon into their mouth!
Your baby might respond to, and imitate, your facial expressions and sounds. As their memory and attention span increase, they’ll begin to pick out components of your speech and hear the way words form sentences. All of this will help their brain grow and develop in preparation for speech.
Their strengthening back muscles
Many babies spend their sixth month perfecting the art of sitting up. Between the ages of four and five months, they may be able to sit in a slumped position but will often topple over.
As they start to use their arms to prop themselves up, things get easier. And, once their back muscles are strong enough – usually at around six months – they will rely less on their arms for support, and finally be able to sit upright on their own.
Pumping up their iron levels
Iron is especially important for your 6-month-old baby’s brain development. It plays a vital role in the function of the nervous system, enabling nerve cells to transmit
Filling up on iron
To ensure your 6-month-old baby gets enough iron, try to include purées made of foods such as lean red meat, chicken, eggs, peas, beans, lentils and leafy green vegetables in their weaning diet. Once they can manage more complex textures, oily fish such as salmon and sardines, and lightly poached dried fruit like apricots, provide a good source too.
Feeding your 6-month-old iron-rich foods combined with those high in vitamin C can help their body absorb iron more efficiently. Red or green peppers, kiwis, bananas, oranges and strawberries are good sources of vitamin C.
Getting more from milk
If you are
Healthy habits start here
As well as providing an increasing variety of nutrients, your baby’s weaning diet can help to encourage an appetite for, and a willingness to try, a wide range of foods as they grow. Be adventurous and offer lots of different tastes and textures as you move through the weaning stages. Remember though, it can take up to ten tries for a baby to accept a new taste. So if they show signs of not liking a certain food, don’t give up. Offer it several more times – it may even become a favourite.
Brighter futures start here
Discover more about infant development to help shape your baby's future
Add these items to your shopping list:
- Iron-rich foods like lean red meat, green, leafy vegetables, peas and beans.
- Vitamin C-rich foods like tomatoes, kiwis, oranges, bananas and strawberries
- Fortified follow-on milk, if you are bottle feeding
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.