By the time your baby is 5 or 6 months old, you’ll have a good understanding of her needs. You’ll know the signs that mean she is tired, hungry, or wants attention. You may be in a routine by now, which means you can tell when she will need feeding, or when she is due to have a sleep.
Some babies will be sleeping through the night. Some nights she will still wake up because she is hungry, has a dirty nappy, is too hot or cold or is feeling unwell. Or she may have woken up for no obvious reason.
When she cries, it’s her way of telling you that something is not right. Your baby will be smiling and laughing now when you play with her. And she’ll show that she is annoyed or angry by squeaking or screaming, rather than by tearful crying.
She is becoming more sociable and will enjoy watching other children and show signs of wanting to join in. She is also thriving on your attention and is learning how to get more of it by waving or making a noise.
At 6 months your baby will be ready to start having ‘solid’ food, in addition to her regular breast or formula milk.
At 5-6 months your baby may be able to...
- hold her arms out to be lifted
- roll over from her front to her back and sometimes from her back to her front. See our safety section for more information on how to protect her from bumps and falls
- sit up with support in the pram, or on the sofa with cushions around her (though don’t leave her alone like this)
- enjoy bouncing in a standing position on your lap
- grasp small toys and objects that you put in front of her, drop something and let it fall. If she can’t see it she’ll forget it quickly, not realising she can look for it and find it again
- know that if she shakes a rattle it makes a noise
- use her mouth to explore everything, or put everything in her mouth
- listen to more voices and start replying to you with sounds.
Returning to work and continuing breastfeeding
Make sure that your employer can accommodate your choice to continue breastfeeding. If your childcare is close to work this may mean arranging your work breaks to allow you to pop out to feed your baby. If your childcare is not nearby, you may want to express milk at work. Your employer has a duty to provide a room or space where you can express milk, and a fridge where you can store it.
You could also speak to a health professional to help plan your return to work.
You can provide expressed milk for your nursery or childminder to use. You may need to express milk at work, refrigerate it and then transport it in a sterilised container in a cool bag. You can express milk during the day when you’re at work, and breastfeed in the evening and at weekends when you and your baby are at home together – your body will soon adjust. From six months, your baby can have expressed breast milk from a cup, so there’s no need to introduce her to a bottle.
You can get more information from the NHS Health Scotland leaflet Breastfeeding and Returning to Work or by visiting the Healthy Working Lives website.