Here's the latest instalment in our child development calendar, designed to bring back all those memories of what babies and toddlers should be doing and (roughly) when.
This one focuses on how your grandchild will be developing at six months.
At six months, your grandchild will be much more in charge of her body. No longer will she be content to lie on her quilt on the floor; she'll want to sit up and keep an eye on you instead. Some - though by no means all - babies also start waking less often in the night and their parents start to look a bit less drained. This is also the beginning of a more equal relationship between her and the rest of the world. Not only is she developing a few ideas of her own about what she'd like to do; she'll soon be putting them into practice.
Your grandchild no longer smiles indiscriminately at all and sundry. She probably saves her best smiles for her mum but, if you’re around a fair bit, she will bestow some of her loveliest on you, too. Hold her and she will look up at you wonderingly, patting you, sometimes rather more energetically than is comfortable.
You can make her laugh (who cares if she's the only one who thinks her grandad is funny?) and your jokes and teasing will sometimes make her kick her legs in delight. Best of all, she will hold her arms out to be picked up and adore being cuddled. But she will also now show fear and occasional anger. She will start liking and disliking foods. She will also become more sociable and, instead of staring straight past other babies, will now reach out to touch them.
Her eye and hand coordination is developing fast and she’ll pat her image in the mirror and keep her eyes fixed on an object while she reaches for it. She will then grasp the object, cupping her chubby hand round it and securing it with her thumb. Not so clever is the fact that everything goes straight into her mouth – she’s also very keen to explore with her tongue and lips – so watch what objects are lying about.
As her hand control improves, her fingers will become more nimble. She'll also be able to bang things, like saucepan lids, and will love doing so, particularly if she suspects you have a headache.
She will now be able to roll from her stomach to back and from her back to stomach. She may bend her knees with her forearms on the floor in front of her and start to push off as though about to crawl. Or she may rock to and fro, wondering why she's not moving. She may surprise you and be an early crawler, in which case you'd better babyproof your home sharpish, as she'll have an unnerving knack for finding the bleach and pulling the glass ornaments off the shelves.
Some babies seem to have a lot of muscle tone and may stand supported by furniture for a few moments. She may sit for a little while – best done with cushions around her so that when she topples forwards (or backwards or sideways) her head doesn't make a horrible noise on the floor.
She now realises that people and things continue to exist even though she can't see them. She also realises, from playing and making things happen repeatedly, that "if I do this, then that happens". Discovering that she can move an object from one hand to another makes her realise that her body has two parts that meet in the middle. These are big steps in baby psychology. (Some adults still have a problem with this tricky notion of cause and effect.)
Her lovely babbling will make way for a serious combination of vowels and consonants. You may hear variations on "gaa goo" and "ka" and "ma" or you may not. (If it’s you making these noises, sorry, that doesn’t count). It can be hard to disentangle baby speech and all a doting gran really wants to hear is a nice crisp "grandma" or "nana" or whatever it’s going to be – and we hope that’s not too big a can of worms.
On the subject of names, now is the time to stop calling her Pinkybottom or Snufflebag, because she will respond to what she thinks is her name. She loves hearing voices and will turn round, swivelling her trunk to hear them. She can also begin to understand the emotional overtones of language. There's obviously a downside to this if you are a family who yells a lot, as you feel mean when your nagging about the rubbish not having been put out makes her cry. Fortunately, cheerful chatter will perk her up again quite quickly. On the cuter side of baby development, she will talk in varying pitch to her toys and to herself in the mirror. Probably about how she wishes her grandparents wouldn't squabble so much.
She can tell the difference between tunes and respond to her name. She will reach out for a toy that makes a sound but will soon stop doing this, unless she can see and is interested by the toy, because she realises that you can't reach for noises. She is, as you have always been convinced, extremely clever.
She can see small objects from 15cm or less up to three to six metres away. She won't stare for long at an object that is far away. If she could voice a colour preference, it would be for red and yellow. The girl's already got taste. Maybe not great taste, yet, but it’s a start.
She will have (or will have soon) some incisors – the two central top and two central bottom ones. At this point, she will want to bite everything and dribble over everyone. Lovely. It's worth starting to clean any teeth, even just with a flannel, as soon as they appear.
Banging things and producing repeatable noises is a good game, as are waving rattles and having gran blow raspberries on your stomach. She will also like different textures: furry things, knobbly things, squashy things. She likes it if you kneel down beside her and try to crawl with her – maybe because it makes you look ridiculous. She likes you to tell her what games you are playing with her, as in "I am rolling the ball towards you". Now is the time to master those Pilates back exercises as your baby's favourite game will soon be throwing things out of her pram, so you pick them up and she can do it again (and again).