While all babies develop differently, and every child is special and unique, most parents can expect their children to begin to demonstrate specific skills or learn to perform tasks by a certain age. These "milestones" cover everything from physical growth, cognitive and language development, to social and motor skills. Smiling for the first time, beginning to recognize familiar faces, waving “bye-bye,” crawling, and taking the first step are all considered developmental milestones.
Why tracking milestones is important to your baby's development
Developmental milestones are important markers to help you track your child’s developmental health. These milestones are used by parents, pediatricians, and many other care providers to ensure that your child is developing as expected, and can help identify and address delayed development to facilitate early interventions.
"Milestones are categorized around five major areas: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social development, language development, and sensory and motor development," explains Cari Whitlock, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist at Healthy Young Minds. "Milestones help you understand how your child learns and grows, and delays in any of these areas can result in mild to severe struggles at home and school. Proper assessment can lead to services that help your child reach their full potential."
How to track a 5-6 month old’s developmental milestones
Many pediatricians work from standardized forms to assess and track your child’s developmental milestones. As a parent, it’s important to keep track of the skills your child exhibits as they grow, since you are most familiar and involved in their day-to-day care. There are multiple tracking apps out there, including the Milestone Tracker App from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Child Development Milestones: 5-6 Months
Social emotional milestones
What are the cognitive milestones for a 5-6 month old?
At 5-6 months of age, your baby is developing self-awareness and learning about who they are. Babies at this age may indicate desired actions through movements, like closing their mouth when they’re done eating. Babies will also indicate desired objects or toys by reaching for them and engaging in exploration by bringing the item to their mouth, and moving them from one hand to another.
What are the physical milestones for a 5-6 month old?
At this age, babies start moving their body more by reaching, wriggling, and rolling from tummy to back. Babies become more stable in their sitting position by leaning on their hands for support. They will also push up with straight arms while on their tummy. At this age, play together – play with toys, read books, and do tummy time!
What are the speech and language milestones for a 5-6 month old?
At 5-6 months, babies will engage in ‘conversational’ turn taking with sounds like ‘baba’ or ‘gaga’ and play with making sounds at different pitches and volumes. Babies will let you know what they want using noises, like blowing ‘raspberries’ (sticks out tongue and blows), as well as movements and smiling. At this age, your baby’s appetite is growing and may be ready to experience a variety of foods with different tastes and textures. Introducing some mushy foods helps strengthen your baby’s teeth and jaws and build skills they will need as they grow, like language development.
What are the social and emotional milestones for a 5-6 month old?
At this age, babies recognize familiar people and enjoy spending time with familiar people. Your baby is also working out the difference between parents, caregivers, adults and children. Your baby will express more emotions – laughing, frowning, squealing, and smiling with happiness and joy. They will also enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror as their curiosity about themselves grows. With more emotions and crying, it’s important to comfort your baby and also important to give yourself space to feel calm if you begin to feel frustrated. Find space to breathe and reach out to a family member or friend for help.
What if my child is not meeting milestones?
No one knows your child better than you. Always trust your gut. If your child is not meeting age-appropriate milestones, talk to your pediatrician.
Learn more about when you should worry about missing developmental milestones.