Frequently Asked Questions: 6 Months
When will my baby sleep through the night?
Although newborns sleep approximately 16 hours each day, they do awaken often to feed. Each time they sleep may last as long as four hours or so, but the longest time may not always occur at night. Parents are understandably anxious for their infants to sleep for long periods, particularly at night, so that they can get some uninterrupted sleep, too.
Fortunately, by age 4 months, most babies can sleep for six to eight hours at night, without the need for feedings, rocking or other interventions; by age 6 months, they can sleep as much as 10 to 12 hours.
There are some things you can do to help your baby learn to sleep through the night and to prevent later sleep problems. Put her to bed when she is drowsy but still awake. Keep middle-of-the-night feedings brief and boring, with dim lights and no talking or playing. Minimize nighttime diaper changes and make these quiet and boring, too. Establishing good sleep habits early with your baby can help everyone in the family to be well rested.
Should I use a baby walker?
Baby walkers should not be used because they are responsible for thousands of injuries each year and have even caused deaths. More injuries are associated with baby walkers than with any other piece of baby equipment.
Baby walkers, also called infant walkers, typically consist of a fabric seat within a rigid frame set upon a wheeled base, which supports the child's weight but allows him to put his feet on the floor and move about freely. They are designed for children who are sitting up, but not yet walking on their own.
These seemingly safe devices are extremely dangerous. Children in walkers can tip over, tumble down stairs, or fall into water. Walkers allow children to move at fast speeds and to reach higher objects that are potentially hazardous.
When will my baby start teething?
Teething is the process of teeth breaking through the gums. The first teeth often appear around 6 months of age, but there is a wide range of normal for this process. Some babies start teething as early as 3 or 4 months, others do not start until 12 months or older.
The signs and symptoms of teething vary from one child to the next but may include drooling (more than usual), red rash or dry skin on cheeks and/or chin (from drooling), swollen gums, fussiness (especially during meals), and sleep problems. Almost all babies want to chew on things when they are teething. Chewing helps the teeth break through the gums, but also helps to reduce the pain. In particular, chewing on cold objects, such as teething toys, frozen washcloths or even pieces of frozen bagel, can help numb the gums and decrease the discomfort of teething.
It is very important not to put babies to bed with a bottle once thier teeth appear. Juice or milk can cause cavities if the teeth are exposed to them all night. If your baby has anything to drink or eat (except water) after his teeth have been brushed, they should be brushed again.
There is considerable debate over whether teething causes fever. Some babies may develop a low-grade fever while teething as a result of an oral viral infection. A high fever or even a low-grade fever that persists should be evaluated by your child's doctor.