A guide to your child's development at 0-6 months
Child Health and Parenting Service (CHaPS)
Your child’s development is unique. Children develop at different stages and achieve as individuals. You play an important role in your child’s development, guiding and letting them explore their surroundings.
From the first day they are born, your baby’s brain is growing and learning. They learn by connecting with the people around them. This connection with you is the foundation of their development during this first 6 months of their life.
Here are some ideas of what typical development looks like at this age and guidelines when to seek professional support. Your Child’s Personal Health Record also includes some developmental information. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please seek advice from your Child and Family Health Nurse (CFHN) or General Practitioner (GP).
Talking and Understanding
- Babies use their voice (cry), face, arms and legs to tell you what they are feeling.
- Babies can make big loud sounds when they are unhappy, but they also make lots of little sounds and faces to try and tell you what they are feeling.
- When your baby is calm, you might notice your baby start to make different shapes with their mouth and experiment with different sounds as they get older. Take some time to watch and respond to your baby, this lets your baby learn that you are listening to them.
- Talk to your baby, read books, sing songs. This builds early language development and the connection you have with your child.
- From around 4-8 weeks you’ll notice your baby start to turn their head to look at you and smile.
Playing and being active
- Babies love watching, even from very young they will turn their heads to look for you. Try raising your eyebrows, or sticking your tongue out, your baby will learn to copy you!
- Tummy time is important for your baby to build strength in their neck and body. It’s the beginning of the skills that will allow your baby to crawl and walk later on.
- Your baby will learn to reach out and grab at objects. Try simple rattles or toys that dangle to encourage hand and eye skills.
- Baby will start to roll from their tummy to their back and then from their back to their tummy. It’s important not to swaddle a baby that can roll.
- This is a period of huge change for your baby as they get used to being a part of the world and get to know their parents or caregivers.
- Hold and cuddle your baby often. You cannot spoil a baby.
- By paying attention and responding to you baby’s needs you are building the bond between you and your baby and supporting your baby’s wellbeing.
How to support your child's development at this age?
Here are some simple things you can do to help your child’s development at this age:
- Encourage your baby’s muscle development by doing tummy time, on the floor or on your body. Try laying on the floor face-to-face with baby, placing baby in front of a mirror or toy or placing them on your chest and talking to baby. Remember short periods of time, a few times through the day, is best at this stage.
- Give baby an opportunity to try to pat at or grasp objects, try dangling toys in front of them or over them when the are having playtime on the floor.
- Encourage baby’s speech and language development by reading together out loud, telling stories, singing and saying rhymes with your baby.
- Build the connection between yourself and your baby by responding to baby’s cues, smiling and chatting to baby during interactions and giving lots of cuddles, touch and rocking.
- Take care of your needs, catch up with friends, chat to your Child and Family Health Nurse or GP if you are finding parenthood overwhelming.
- Explore your local community, try a local play group or contact your local primary school for more information about the Launching Into Learning program.
- Protect your baby by keeping their environment smoke free and follow safe sleeping guidelines.
When to be concerned about your child’s development and what to do
Talk to your GP or phone 1300 064 544 to speak with a Child Health Nurse if you have concerns about your child's development
- Concern about your baby excessively crying and you are struggling to manage.
- Jaundice or a yellow colour to their skin and the whites of their eyes.
- Concern about your baby not feeding as expected or painful breastfeeding or baby is not growing as expected.
- Concern baby is not showing interest or responding when you talk to or play with them.
- Less than 5-8 wet nappies per day or changes with their poo.
- Concern about your child’s ability to use their arms or legs - for example, difference between right and left side of body in strength or movement or floppy or stiff movements, arching their back.
- One leg appearing longer than the other or ‘cluncking’ hip joints when changing baby.
- Concern about head shape changes on one side or the back of the head is becoming flatter than the rest of the head.
- If you are concerned about your baby being more drowsy than usual and is difficult to wake please attend DEM or in any emergency situations contact 000.
- Information for newborns 0-3 months, Raising Children Network
- Information for babies 3-12 months, Raising Children Network
- Child's development 0-4 months, Starting Blocks
- Kids health information factsheets, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne
- Red Nose Safe Sleeping Hub
- Physical activity information for 0-5 years, Being Active
- Launching into Learning 0-4 years
- Talking with babies, Let's Talk