Baby basics (6-11 months)
If you referenced our baby essentials for 0-5 months page, then you probably have most the basics in your arsenal of baby things including seasonal items, vitamins and medicine. Below is our baby essentials list. A few things change between the 4-6 months mark, particularly when your baby starts to get mobile. It is truly remarkable how quickly babies grow and develop. In the blink of an eye you're baby will go from a little bundle in your arms to running around everywhere!
Download our six month and beyond baby essentials checklist.
If you're looking to save money, accept hand-me-downs or borrow baby gear from friends and family (who live in smoke-free homes), except that you may want to buy car seats (and other things with safety-related mechanisms) brand new. If you plan to have more than one child, or intend to resell certain items you've purchased after you're finished with them, consider buying unisex.
Your diaper bag
As we mentioned on our baby essentials for 0-5 months page, a well-equipped diaper bag can be the difference between a pleasant outing and a potentially disastrous one. As a general rule of thumb – it is best to be over prepared. You can never predict what is going to happen or how equipped the space is that you find yourself in. Trying to remember everything can be challenging. You often find gaps in your packing at the most inopportune time (when things have gone sideways).
Your diaper bag checklist will vary according to weather as well as the age of your child.Our list of “must haves” and some “nice haves” (compiled by experienced moms who have learned from a few disastrous experiences of their own!) is available on our baby essentials for 0-5 months page. A pdf of this checklist is available here.
Once you are home and have a moment to breathe, replace items used so your bag is set and ready to go for the next outing!
Our one big tip: Keep a backup supply of diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, socks, water and non-perishable snacks (like trail mix) in your vehicle. This has saved us more than once!
Baby proofing your home
We cannot possibly protect our kids from every bump and bruise, despite our best efforts, but thoroughly baby proofing our house can greatly reduce the risk of serious injury. While your eagle-eyes are by far the best baby proofing you can do, don’t underestimate how tired you are likely to feel the first year and how quickly things can happen. If you haven't checked out the basic precautions and things to consider before your baby arrives on our 0-5 months page for babies, please do!
Here is our list for any proofing in preparation for movement, which typically occurs between 6-10 months.
- Ensure all large furniture pieces that can topple are bolted to the wall with furniture straps
- Avoid placing furniture that a child can climb in front of a window or ledge
- Do not trust that a screen will protect your child from a fall! If you do want to open the window, consider window stops or guards that restrict how far it can open (these apparatuses should be strong enough to prevent your toddler from removing but easy for you to remove in the event of a fire)
- Keep baby toiletries out of reach, including baby wipes
- Cover all electrical outlets that are not kid safe and remove all wires or appliances that plug in
- Remove water as soon as bath is done
- Ensure all vitamins, medications and other poisonous items are secure in medicine cabinet
- Keep all makeup, razors, pins, perfume, mouthwash, nail polish and remover, scissors or other harmful objects out of reach
- Keep the toilet seat down or latched (or keep the bathroom door shut)
- Invest in a bathtub spout
- Clean bath toys regularly with vinegar and warm water to avoid mildew and mold, especially inside squeeze toys
- When you can, cook on the back burners with pot handles facing the back of stove
- Secure oven door with a clamp
- Put a latch on drawers containing knives or other sharp objects
- Household cleaning items (including dishwasher tabs) should be placed out of reach
- Unplug kitchen appliances that sit on the counter and don’t keep cords dangling
- Be aware of food in the fridge or pantry that your child may have access to and place out of reach
- Keep hot food and drink away from table/counter edges and refrain from holding while baby is in your arms
- Avoid table cloths or runners that can be pulled down
- Have a safe and sturdy highchair with a working safety belt, and if you transition to a booster seat when your baby is older, make sure it also has a working seat belt
Various other rooms
- Remove small choking hazards (as a general rule, anything that can fit inside a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard)
- Secure all large furniture pieces, like bookshelves and televisions, to the wall
- Install baby gates to keep child away from hazardous areas
- Cover all sharp corners with edge guards
- Tie, bind or remove all dangling cords on window covers
- Tie up all electrical wires or keep out of reach
- Remove lamps that can topple and secure all cords
- Cover all electrical outlets that are not kid safe
- Avoid placing breakable items within reach, including picture frames
- Use door stops to protect fingers
- Use door knob covers to keep selected rooms off limits
- Blow out the pilot light to your electrical fireplace or install a fireplace grill
- Use child-resistant covers if you have accessible garbage cans
- Safely store all plastic bags and balloons
- Safely store batteries, matches and lighters
- All guns and ammunition should be removed from the house or locked in a safe place
Don’t forget to check your backyard, garage and vehicle for safety hazards as well, including making sure your child safety door and window locks are on when driving!
About your baby
As you likely gathered from the baby proofing list above, expect your baby to get a to more mobile over the coming months. And everything interesting. Be patient while your baby explores every little thing and even stops eating just to look around and take it all in!
Feeding and teething
Introducing solids and making your own baby food (if it works for you)
Always check with your baby’s paediatrician or healthcare provider before deciding to start your baby on solids, and discuss food allergies and what you can and cannot give to your baby. Typically this will occur between 4-6 months. As your baby gets older they will begin drink less milk and eat more solid foods.
There are many benefits to making your own baby food if you decide to try it out. You have control of what goes into your baby food (you can use the best possible ingredients!), it’s economical, and you can get creative introducing new tastes and foods you would otherwise not find in commercially bought baby food. Homemade baby food can also taste so much better than store bought brands (let's admit we have all tried our baby’s food at one point or another and some of the store bought brands are hard to keep down).
Before getting started, make sure you have the right equipment. First, you will need either a blender, food processor or some sort of device that will puree the food for you. Check out the Baby Bullet, it’s so easy to clean and it comes with everything you need. There are also many other products out there geared specifically for making baby food such as the Beaba Babycook, Baby Brezza, and Oxo Tot Baby Food Mill. They all generally do the same thing so choose one that appeals to you.
Other things you will need: a spatula, storage containers (for example, BPA free ice cube trays such as Fresh Baby trays, freezer bags for storing the cubes in after they are frozen, portable baby food pouches, mini mason jars or similar glass containers), a pot or food steamer (to cook your food in), cutting board, knife and generous size bowls to hold your food while prepping.
Consider organic and the freshest and best possible ingredients whenever I can. Frozen foods can work fine too, especially if you do not have access to a certain fruit or vegetable or if it is not in season (but check with your baby's healthcare provider first if you plan to refreeze).
When starting your baby on solids, always begin with single foods and slowly add other foods together as your baby gets accustomed to eating different foods. This way you will be able to find out if your baby has any food allergies or an aversion to certain foods and textures. But keep in mind that it may take dozens of tries before your baby begins to love certain foods - be persistent but not too pushy.
Below are the steps for making baby food from a single ingredient but the process is the same for baby food that contains more than one ingredient. For more than one ingredient (including fruits and veggies, grains, cooked meats or fish and sauces), combine the ingredients when cooking or cook separately and combine ingredients when you are pureeing the foods.
Make a week or two worth of baby food at a time because life can get a bit hectic with little ones. You could make as much baby food as you like as long as you can freeze or store it for later use. Baby food can be stored for up to two or three days in the refrigerator. Frozen baby food is typically good for up to one month or longer in a deep freeze.
Step 1: Prep the food. Thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables and peel the rind or skin if there is any. Cut up your fruit or vegetable into smaller pieces for cooking (the smaller you cut it up, the faster it cooks). You do not need to cut up certain foods such as spinach as it easily purees in whole form.
Step 2: Cook or steam your food. Do not overcook fruits and vegetables to help preserve as much of the vitamins and nutrients possible. Reserve the water your food or vegetable was cooked in and set aside.
Step 3: Puree your baby food. Put your cooked foods into your blender, food processor or baby food maker device. When pureeing fruits and vegetables, add a bit of the reserved water you set aside and puree, adding more water (if needed) depending on the consistency you would like your baby food. You can add less water when you're pureeing as your baby gets older to introduce more texture to your baby’s food.
Step 4: Store your baby food. Pour your pureed food into ice cube trays (to freeze and store for later use) or into pouches or mini mason jars (to store in the refrigerator). If your ice cube trays do not have lids, you could cover them with saran wrap. To help save space in your freezer, put the frozen cubes into freezer bags - you could put a number of different flavours of frozen cubes into each freezer bag so that when you thaw each bag your baby will have a variety of foods to choose from! Don't forget to date and label your trays, jars or other baby food packages.
Voila! You now have successfully made your own baby food.
Once you are comfortable with making single foods, you can get more creative and adventurous with the types of ingredients you use. If your baby is doing well with eating solid foods and does not have food aversions or digestive upsets, then you can try more creative ingredients. In many different cultures, babies all over the world are introduced to a wide variety of foods that we may not commonly give to our babies in North America. Many of these foods are packed with tons of nutrients and vitamins.
Food sensitivities and allergies
An anaphylactic allergy occurs when the body reactions to a substance mediated by IgE antibodies to produce histamine and is a medical emergency. With subsequent exposure to the reactive substance, the body mounts a stronger response each time making them quite dangerous after the initial attack. A true allergic reaction generally follows the same symptom picture no matter if from food or from something in the environment. Signs to watch for include red patches or welts on the skin, swelling or itchy lips or eyes, runny nose, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
A sensitivity on the other hand is a delayed IgG mediated response which makes the suspect food a bit more challenging to identify. And just to confuse things more there are food intolerances! Intolerances do not involve the immune system at all but cause irritation in the digestive system, which can lead to gas and bloating or diarrhea and constipation.
80-90% of children with true food allergies are allergic to one or more of the following: dairy, eggs, peanuts & other tree nuts, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Food sensitivities can be triggered by the same list but can also be from a variety of other sources. Most sensitivities do not show up in obvious ways until a few days after ingestion so even if your baby initially did well on a food, continue monitoring them. Cooking the majority of your baby’s first foods can reduce the risk of allergy development.
When starting new foods with your infant or child, monitoring for food allergies is important. The first exposure is usually a mild reaction; however, with subsequent expose, there is a high chance of a more dramatic reaction so care is needed when trying that food again. Ideally waiting two months and do not introduce anything new until the symptoms clear up. One way to slowly introduce a food you are concerned about is to place it on their cheek away from their mouths for 10-20 minutes to see if any redness or swelling develops. After this, wait 12-24 hours and monitor for symptoms, if none occur, then can try a small amount of their lips and again monitor for symptoms. This is a good strategy for first introduction of common food allergies such as peanuts – always chose natural non-hydrogenated peanut butter. It is ideal to speak with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about food introduction.
If your child is developing seasonal or environmental allergies, they most likely will have more nasal congestion which could resemble a cold. The chart available in this post helps to distinguish between a cold, flu, and allergies.
Tips for introducing new foods
Since there is no reason to rush the introduction of solids, we believe in introducing foods as follows:
- Always document the introduction of new foods on your baby's chart so that it will be easier to determine if your baby has a reaction and what caused it.
- We want infants to develop a lifelong love for vegetables early because they're so good for us! When introducing solids, consider starting with vegetables and then fruits (because who wants to eat their vegetables after they have had sweets?). Even proteins can be introduced before whole grains as stomach acid and enzymes for protein digestion are almost at adult levels by six weeks whereas carb enzymes are not at adult levels until 18 months. Consider waiting until at least nine months before introducing whole grains.
- To help monitor possible allergies, take a week to introduce each new food. Consider introducing each new food in the following manner.
- If you are concerned about an allergy, you could rub some of the food on your baby's cheek first to see if it gets irritated or shows any other sign of reaction.
- Day One – Introduce a bite or two of the new food at either breakfast or lunch meal only
- Day Two – Feed your baby as much of the new food as they want at either breakfast or lunch only (one meal only)
- Day Three – Feed your baby as much of the new food as they want at two meals
- Days Four to Seven – Feed your baby as much of the new food as they want at two or three meals. If there are no concerns by the end of the week, then start with the next new food.
- Day One – Introduce a bite or two of the new food at either breakfast or lunch meal only
You may find that texture and how you present the food to your baby and toddler becomes important, which means that it’s time to get creative! A few great tips are below.
- Introduce new textures slowly
Transition to solids slowly by moving away from finely pureed foods to pureed foods with a bit more texture. Then slowly introduce finger foods, making sure they are cut into very small pieces because your child may not be chew her food as well as you might like. You can do this even if your child doesn’t have a full set of teeth yet but please do not ever leave your child unattended while they are eating to make sure they're not overfilling their mouth with food!
- Try plain foods first then slowly add new things
Transitioning out of purees may take a long time and there is no need to rush the process. When your child first begins to eat solids, avoid offering foods with more than one texture (like pizza or pasta for example) because it may be too many new textures at once. Also, begin with desirable finger foods like O's that are rather bland, but kids seem to like them and it gives them practice with solids.
- Make meals more fun
There are so many things that you can do, just to name a few:
- start with tiny portions (it seems less overwhelming that way)
- cut things up into fun shapes, such as thin apple or cheese spears because it’s easy to hold and it might get your child to use her back teeth if she has them
- grate raw food, like carrots with cucumber (it is less likely for kids to choke on and we like the idea of giving kids raw food)
- present less appealing foods, such as vegetables, beside your child’s favourite foods as an incentive for her to eat more
- adding your child’s favourite toppings or dips to food can be helpful (for example, squeeze lemon juice or add a little butter, coconut oil or cheese to veggies, add spices like cinnamon, or put ketchup, mustard or salsa on the side)
- use fun names for vegetables (broccoli could be called trees and cauliflower could be snow covered trees, etc.) - older siblings can help with this!
- start with tiny portions (it seems less overwhelming that way)
- Don’t force your child to eat foods they don't want to eat, and don't stop giving them what they love to eat (unless there's a good reason to)
If your child doesn’t seem to want to eat a certain food, don’t make a big deal about it. Wait a few weeks or a month then gently try to introduce it again, they may come around. Don't give up try and remain calm, no matter how frustrated you may be (and it is frustrating!). Some children take many exposures to new foods before really loving them! Also, don't stop giving your child what she loves to eat, keep giving it to her as well as trying new things. Note that if things don't improve over a couple months and there may be reason for concern, you may want to check with your child’s healthcare provider.
- Empower your child
Let your child squish and touch the food, this is part of the process and shouldn't be discouraged. You can also give your child their own child-size spoon or fork and let them try to feed themselves if they shows an interest. You may need to feed them with another spoon or fork to make sure they get enough food before they get the hang of it. Don’t forget to let your child know that you are proud of them even if you have a huge mess to clean up!
Your baby's tongue thrust mechanism
Tongue thrust reflex prevents infants from choking on foreign objects and causes them to push food out of their mouths. Prior to 4 months, a baby's swallowing mechanism is designed to work with sucking but not chewing – between 4 and 6 months, most infants develop the ability to move food from the front of the mouth to the back instead of letting it wallow around in the mouth and get spit out.
A baby's tongue extrusion reflex begins to fade between 6 and 12 months. At this point they have the ability to prepare food in their mouth before swallowing. This is also when they will be able to get a better lip seal around a cup -- prior to this time a bottle or sippy-cup may be a cleaner option.
Iron in your baby's diet
After 6 months of age the iron stores your baby was born with start to become depleted. On top of this, if you are like so many moms who start their pregnancy with low iron it may be even more of a concern. Since iron begins to store in the third trimester of pregnancy, babies born prematurely (before 37 gestational weeks) may be at further risk of iron deficiency. This is another excellent reason to continue with your professional quality pre-natal vitamin during breastfeeding.
As your infant grows the demand for iron and many other nutrients increase. Iron is especially important for brain development while low levels have been casually linked with cognitive and behaviour issues later in life. In most cases, infants will get enough through their diet; this is why it is important to ensure your infant’s diet has diversity. There are many foods that provide adequate levels of this important micronutrient.
Here is a chart showing the amount of elemental iron in a variety of foods. Also included is a table of foods rich in vitamin C, an important nutrient for helping the iron from food be absorbed. Avoiding dairy in the first year of life can also help prevent iron deficiency from occurring. In private practice, it is common to screen a child around 2 years of age to assess their iron levels just like we would in an adult. Your healthcare provider might screen as early as 9 months if there are any risk factors or cause for concern. The Institute of Medicine recommends 11 mg per day of elemental iron for infants 7 months to 1 year. The daily requirement decreases to 7 mg per day from 1-3 years.
There is such a thing as too much iron so make sure you consult your healthcare professional before supplementing with iron, especially non-food sources.
Check out our nutrition tips recipes, and meal plans.
Teething can have a huge impact on your baby's overall mood and demeanour, but also can impact how they are eating and sleeping. Symptoms of teething can be similar to those of a cold or flu such as fussiness, pulling at the ears, difficulty sleeping and slightly loose stools. Other common symptoms include drooling, scratching along the jaw line and biting/gnawing on things such as their hand or your shoulder.
Out top solutions to teething are listed below.
- Teething toys - there are gazillions of toys for teething on the market, including teething bling for Mom to wear for easy access (and help serve as a great distraction when you need to give your baby something to play with).
- Bioron Laboratories' Camilla - this is a must have! It helps with teething but we've found it is also amazing for calming and soothing, especially, if your child is crying hysterically (like on an airplane which is the worst). Literally keep this handy all of the time!
- Wearing an amber necklace around the neck, all day and night - while controversial, this can be very effective method but some parents have to see it to believe it. If want to try an amber necklace, consider one where each bead is knotted individually, so if the necklace happens to break the beads will not break loose from the string. Also consider putting it on your baby as a newborn so that they don't even notice it's there. If you put it on them when they are older, they may notice it and play with it. Don't forget to take it off at bath time (and avoid getting it wet) as this could have an impact on the integrity of the string it is made with.
There are also drool bibs on the market which are worth buying as they can save you having to change your baby's top once every hour to keep them dry and comfy cosy.
Sleeping through the night asap
Lack of sleep is something most parents anticipate when their new baby arrives. With all of the new scientific studies out there, we all know how bad lack of sleep is for us! It is not realistic to expect 8 hours of perfect, uninterrupted sleep with a new baby but a gradual improvement in the quality of sleep can be expected as your baby grows, develops, and their need for nutrients at night decreases. Determining the best time to establish a sleep routine for your infant is highly individual, there is no rule for or against when to start.
A study (note 1) comparing newborns on a sleep-training program to a control group followed newborns from birth until 6-9 weeks of age. The study found infants on the sleep program had significantly better sleep patterns than the control group. Additionally, the parents in the sleep-program group obtained more uninterrupted sleep, reported less stress generally, and felt more competent when responding to their infants at night compared to the control group. Insomnia is so common! It is also common for people to report that their sleep problems began as children. Therefore, establishing a sleep routine in infancy may influence sleep patterns as your baby grows up. It is also interesting to note that up to 30% of children have sleep problems in their first four years which means less sleep for the parents during this time as well.
Many Calmmother mama’s have verified the earlier a baby is started on the routine, the easier it is to have their baby sleeping through the night and for the infant to get themselves back to sleep by self-soothing. Just like an adult, when an infant knows what to expect and is in a routine, anxiety and stress levels can be reduced. When your baby is getting more sleep, YOU are getting more sleep! More sleep for baby and mom reduces the risk of maternal depression and improves your child’s mood during the day.
Always consult your healthcare practitioner to discuss the sleep program you have in mind and to ensure your baby is a good candidate for that program. Some circumstances may include: low birth weight, weight loss, low immunity, premature birth, or other health concerns your healthcare provider may have.
The Calmmother feeding and sleep guide, which gently helps your baby transition to 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep by 12 weeks, is available here.
Answers to FAQ's about baby feeding and sleep are available here.
Dropping a nap too early can cause a less than ideal chain reaction for your family. Not only does lack of sleep cause your baby to be overtired and cranky, it may mean that it will be more difficult to put them down at night. Less or not enough sleep during the day may require an earlier bedtime to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep in a 24 hour period.
According to Dr. Pamela Smith, ND, "most newborn sleep between 11-17 hours in a 24 hour period with the average around 14 hours. However, this amount of sleep is usually in 1-4 hour blocks with approximate hours equal during the day and at night. By 2-6 months of age, the nighttime sleep starts to dominate the amount of daytime sleeping."
When using our feeding and sleep program, or when it comes to sleep generally, the amount of sleep that a baby needs in a day will vary. As a starting point, you should do what works best for you and your family.
We have found this method of dropping naps to be a smooth transition:
- 0-6 months - baby naps a minimum of 1.5 hours between each of the daytime feedings until they are at least six months old (this means four daytime naps per day: early morning, late morning, afternoon and late afternoon)
- 6 months - drop the late afternoon nap before dinner around six months, preferably after baby is consistently sleep 10-12 uninterrupted hours through the night (if you've used our program then your baby likely has been sleeping this way since 12 weeks or 3 months)
- 9 months - drop the late morning nap around nine months or when baby is ready -- when you drop this nap, your baby may need to have two naps during the day, in the morning after breakfast and after lunch, for 1.5 to three hours each
- One year - drop the early morning nap after breakfast when your baby is around a year old, and continues to have a 1.5 to three hour nap after lunch (coincidentally, this is when many daycares tend to have nap or quiet time).
One way to help keep things smooth and easy when dropping naps is to make the transition slow, for example, reducing nap time by half an hour at a time until phasing the nap out completely. It is also important to teach your baby to be able to lay or play quietly in their crib (or bedroom) when it is nap time until it is time to wake up. After your child stops napping, if you would still like quiet time each day, convey to your child that it is quiet time and that they need to play alone. Quiet time can help give everyone in your family a much needed break.
Consult your child's qualified healthcare provider if you are concerned that your child is not getting enough sleep or has a nutritional deficiency.
Answers to FAQ's about baby feeding and sleep are available here.
1. Wolfsen, A., A. Futterman, and P. Lacks. 1992. Effects of parent training on infant sleep patterns, parent’s stress, and parental perceived competency. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 60(1) 41-48.