Growth & Development in Babies Three to Six Months Old

Watching a child grow physically and intellectually is among the greatest rewards of being a parent. At the same time, parents become easily worried about what is "normal" in terms of their child's growth and development.

It is important for every parent to be aware that "normal" really refers to a "normal range" when monitoring a child's progress. Normal rates of development in children vary considerably. Not only do children differ as to when they reach particular milestones, but the same child may develop rapidly in one area and far more slowly in another. It is only when a child falls significantly or persistently outside the normal range that there may be reason for concern—and this applies to a relatively small number of children.

In addition, you as a parent know your child best. If some aspect of your child's growth is troubling you, do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician or family practitioner, who also can take your child's individuality into account. The same advice applies to any health problem your child develops. The information in this book is meant to help and reassure. But if home treatment does not prove effective after a reasonable time, or if a particular symptom seems unusual, by all means talk to your doctor about what action to take.

Three to six months. During this period, weight gain slows to about 1 1/4 pounds per month, so that by five months, your baby's weight will have approximately doubled from birth.

Babies this age sleep as much as younger infants—a total of about 16 hours a day—but more sleep occurs during the nighttime. About 75 percent of infants six months old sleep for six to eight hours at a stretch. Sleep cycles are often tied to the baby’s feeding schedule.

During feeding, a child this age will look around more and become distracted by his surroundings, rather than focus solely on the person feeding him. The baby will also become more aware of his own body. He will touch his ears, cheeks, and genitals, blow bubbles, and wiggle his fingers. His legs will also start to gain strength. When you pull him to a standing position, he will extend his legs and put weight on them. Likewise, he will progress from being able to hold an object for only a few seconds to holding it for minutes at a time and then voluntarily letting it go.

You can also expect to see him express a wider range of emotions—joy, anger, fear, and surprise, as well as coos and other vocalizations in response to a parent's verbal and facial expressions. If these expressions aren't beginning to show themselves, or if your baby exhibits any persistent lethargy or unwillingness to engage in interactions, you should talk to your doctor.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 15 Jun 2010

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2014