The First Six Months: Big Changes - Month Six
This article covers the following topics: The Sixth Month: Sitting Big, A Relief for Parents, Pushing Up and Moving Around, Playpens: Don't Fence Me In, Raising Healthy Teeth, When should we expect our baby's teeth to appear?, When should we first take our baby to a dentist?, When should I start brushing baby's teeth?, Besides brushing, what else can we do to help our baby's teeth?, Don't let baby sleep with a bottle of milk or juice., What about fluoride? How can I tell if my baby is getting enough?. This is the last part of this article. I hope you found the other five.
The Sixth Month: Sitting Big
From five to six months is a transition stage in baby's development. Before this period, baby is stuck. He can't move around or sit and play by himself. In the next stage, six to nine months, he becomes able to do both. In the sixth month, then, baby begins learning to sit and move about, and it is these major milestones that we focus on in the next few pages.
The Sitting Sequence
Learning to sit is the master skill of the sixth month. The sequence of learning to sit from four to six months is one of the most fascinating steps in baby's development. In the first few months baby seems to have little strength in his lower back muscles. When put in the sitting position he flops forward on his nose. Around three to four months baby shows some lower-back-muscle strength by easing forward, but again goes flop. Between four and five months baby still slumps or topples sideways but begins using his outstretched arms as forward and sideways props. Between five and six months baby may let go. his back muscles are now strong enough to support sitting erect, but usually still with the hands as props. Now sitting is just a matter of learning balance.
Watch how your clever beginning sitter learns balance. When baby starts to let go, first with one hand, then the other, he holds his straight back forward at a forty-five-degree angle. As balance and back-muscle strength improve, he sits erect at ninety degrees to the floor. The novice sitter teeters and wobbles on his rounded bottom while thrusting out his arms like sideways balance beams.
Once he master sitting balanced, baby no longer needs his head and arms for balance props but van use them for communication and play. When the skillful sitter begins turning his head to follow you and lifting his arms to gesture or to play, usually between six and seven months, baby is truly sitting alone.
Helping the Beginning sitter
Because baby does not yet have the strength to right himself from a topple, backward and sideways falls are the price to pay for a good sit. Your baby will learn to sit well if you leave him alone. But if you help your baby enjoy the early sitting experiences, he will realize the increasing views he has in this position and will better enjoy developing his skill. Here's how to help:
* Cushing the inevitable backward and sideways falls by surrounding baby with pillows. There's nothing like a fall on a hard surface to scare baby and dampen his motivation to sit.
* To steady the wobbly beginning sitter, place baby in a homemade horseshoe-shaped piece of foam rubber. (Possibly a Nurse Mate pillow purchased as a breastfeeding aid for the early months -- a good example of extending the usefulness of an item!)
* For the summer sitter, hollow out an area in the sand. (Cover the sand with a blanket if you don't want sand in the eyes, mouth, and diaper.)
* When enjoying floor play together, sit baby between your outstretched legs so he can use them as grab rails.
* Use toy interactions to help baby learn balance. When enticed to use his hands to reach for a toy, the sitting baby "forgets" to use his hands as balance props and learns to rely solely on his trunk muscles for balance.
* If baby continues to rest on his hands as forward props, place blocks in front of him to motivate him to lift his hands off the floor by grabbing the blocks.
* To encourage hand play, dangle a favorite toy, eye level, in front of baby. Then move the toy to each side, encouraging baby to move his arms toward the toy while sitting.
During these balance-training exercises, notice how baby uses his arms to maintain balance. At first baby reaches with one hand toward a toy while thrusting out the other for balance. As balance improves, watch baby reach for a toy to one side with both hands and reach behind himself without tumbling over.
A Relief for Parents
When baby can sit along better, parents can sit along longer. Sitting skillfully alone and playing is a major relief milestone for parents. Once he masters sitting, a six-month-old becomes less of a lap baby and carried baby and more of a high-chair and floor baby.
Pushing Up and Moving Around
The sixth month is literally a turning point for baby. Each month baby has been raising more of her torso off the floor. Now she can push her tummy off the ground almost as far as her belly button. Watch what baby can do from the push-up position. She can let go with her hands, raise her feet, and rock on her belly -- playing teeter-totter. Or she can keep her hands and feet touching the ground and pivot around in a semicircle in pursuit of a favorite toy. As a finale, the rocker can pivot on her weighty abdomen by the sheer momentum of her wiggling legs and waving arms -- playing airplane.
Next come pivoting. Using her arms to steer, baby tries to turn a circle by pivoting on her abdomen, which still seems stuck to the floor. While baby is in the middle of pivot practice, place a favorite toy to one side just beyond her reach. Watch baby pivot around to get hearer the toy. If she is really in a hurry, she may turn a quick flip and roll toward the toy.
Here's how you can participate in baby's developing skills.
Playpens: Don't Fence Me In.
Babies don't learn much in pens. In the sit-and-play stage some babies may temporarily enjoy their own little "playroom" with lots of stuff within easy grabbing distance. But in later months, as the beginning explorer peers through the net at the whole big room out there, he is likely to protest confinement.
Pens do have their place. A portable pen and a mobile baby may, of necessity, belong together at your place of work. Plopping baby in a pen while you answer the phone or remove dinner from the oven is often a safety saver for the busy parent. But keep the sentence short; put pen and baby within easy relating distance while finishing your work, making sure to frequently acknowledge the inmate.
If you need baby to be in the pen, keep it safe. Beginning sitters and crawlers flop around a lot on the pen floor. Keep hard toys out. Soft, cuddly toys make good pen mates and are safer to fall against.
As baby progresses from the sit-and-play stage to the move-and-explore stage, pack up the pen and put it in its rightful place (perhaps even next to the crib) at your next garage sale and baby proof the whole house.
Going are those adorable toothless grins. Coming is a novel smile each month. Around five to six months, parents become interested in teething. Here are the most common concerns parents have about caring for those precious pearly whites.
When should we expect our baby's teeth to appear?
When teeth first appear is as variable as the timing of baby's first steps, but in general expect the first sharp nubbin around six months; some babies teethe earlier, some later. And heredity plays a part. If you check your own baby book, if grandmother was a tooth-record keeper, you baby's teething schedule may resemble yours.
Actually, babies are born with a full set of twenty primary teeth. They are just buried in the gums, waiting in line for their time to sprout. Teeth push through in upper and lower pairs, usually the lower appear before their upper gum mates, and girls teethe slightly earlier than boys. The "rule of fours" is how teeth usually appear. Beginning around six months expect four new teeth every four months until complete, usually by two and a half years. Teeth come through gums at unusual angles. Some come out straight, others first appear crooked but straighten as they twist their way through. Don't fret about spaces. It's easier to clean between spaced teeth, and the spacing of the baby teeth does not necessarily reflect how the permanent teeth will appear.
How much should we expect teething to bother our baby?
As you wonder why your sleeping angel turns night waker, you hear the telltale pin against the spoon or feel the cutting edge. Actually babies don't "cut teeth," nor do teeth "erupt." Teeth slowly slide and twist their way through gum tissue. But sharp teeth pushing through sensitive gums do hurt, and babies protest. Here are the nuisances to expect and suggestions to comfort the budding teether.
Fever and irritability.
Refusing to feed.
Doctor could it be her teeth?
You may feel that your doctor doesn't share your degree of concern about your baby's teething problems. Your doctor is being cautious and has the best interest of your baby at heart. Some medical studies, at odds with mother's observations, claim teething discomforts are overrated. Another reason for your doctor's ambivalence about possible teething-related symptoms is the worry that you will attribute a symptom to teething and miss a serious underlying illness. May a doctor has agreed with the mother and considered teething over the phone but diagnosed an ear infection when examining the baby in person.
How can I tell if my baby is teething?
Besides the trademark drool and other related signs, try the gm massage test. (Babies are more likely to accept a finger probing into their mouth than to allow a look.) Run you finger along the front edges of the gums, and you will feel swollen ridges of pre-teething gums.
It is sometimes difficult to tell if a baby is teething because the amount of teething discomfort varies considerably among babies. Some are steady, once-a-month teethers; many teethe in bursts and pauses, where suddenly baby has a miserable week and you feel four swollen ridges along the gum line. Expect the most discomfort when many teeth come through at once. Some babies experience exquisite pain and swelling during molar teething. If allow3f to look, you may notice amount of swollen tissue around a budding tooth. Don't be alarmed if you notice a mushy blue blister above an erupting tooth. This actually a collection of blood beneath the superficial layer of gum tissue. These painful swellings are best treated by cool compresses (for example, popsicles), which soothe the swelling.
I've taken our baby to the doctor several times for what turned out to be false alarms. I thought he had a cold, but it turned out to be teething. How can I tell?
You are right to let your doctor make the decision. When in doubt, don't attribute baby's behavior to teething. But here are some general ways to tell the difference between teething and an illness such as an ear infection.
* Teething mucus is clear saliva and doesn't run out the nose. Cold mucus is think and yellow. A nasal discharge usually means an allergy or an infection, especially if accompanied by eye drainage.
* Teething rarely causes a fever higher than 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C).
* Teething may be confused with an earache. Babies pull at their ears during teething, probably because of referred pain from the teeth to the ears. Ear pulling in babies is usually an unreliable sign. With an ear infection babies usually hurt more lying down and have accompanying signs of a cold.
* Babies don't act progressively sicker with teething. As a general rule, when in doubt, check it out with the doctor.
When should we first take our baby to a dentist?
Sometime between baby's first tooth and third birthday, schedule baby's first dental checkup. Better early than late. Getting your baby used to painless dental checkups long before the first cavity drilling makes it easier on baby, parents, and dentists. Ask to hold your child during any dental procedures or at least to be present during the exam. Some pediatric dentists ask parents to assist by sitting knee to knee with the child's head resting on the dentist's lap. Well-teeth checkups, like well-bay exams with your pediatrician, give the dentist an opportunity to teach you some preventive care, such a proper teeth brushing, avoiding night feedings, and correct fluoride dosage.
When should I start brushing baby's teeth?
Dentists now recommend cleaning gums with gauze to remove plaque beginning around the time that teeth first appear, usually six to seven months. Try the following brushing tactics.
Model good dental hygiene.
First tooth brushing.
Tooth brushing positions.
Tooth brushing and toddlers.
Why all the fuss bout first teeth? Baby will lose all of them anyway.
It's important to care for the baby teeth. These primary teeth hold the right spaces for the secondary, or permanent, teeth, Healthy first teeth also contribute to proper alignment of the jawbones and eventual bite. And don't discount the healthy vanity of a smiling preschooler. No one likes to show off a row of rotten teeth.
Besides brushing, what else can we do to help our baby's teeth?
Here are suggestions for your own home-dental program for cavity-free kids.
Avoid sticky stuff.
Don't let baby sleep with a bottle of milk or juice.
Check out advice on night nursing.
"Nursing caries" does happen to breastfed babies, but buffer in human milk allow it to be tolerated in the mouth, so that tooth decay is much less likely than with bottles of juice or formula. They are most likely to be found in those all-night snacker who feel night nursing tops the list of baby's bill of rights. Consulting with pediatric dentists who have thoroughly researched the night-nursing concern. Many believe that nighttime breastfeeding only slightly contributes to tooth decay. In many cases the tooth decay would have occurred with or without the night nursing.
If you are still night nursing and it's working for you, consult a pediatric dentist knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding and oral development. Have baby's teeth periodically checked to see if they have any beginning decay or enamel weakness that would prompt you to curb night nursing. If you get your dentists OK to continue night nursing, it would be wise, besides your routine before-bed brushing, to start the teeth off each day with a thorough cleaning.
To stop breastfeeding or even night nursing when the teeth come in, as an occasional dentist may advise, is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Considering the overall medical and dental health-promoting benefits and the emotional and developmental advantages of long-term breastfeeding, a more prudent approach would be frequent dental checkups and after-nursing brushing.
What about fluoride? How can I tell if my baby is getting enough?
Here's what every parent should know about fluoride:
* Fluoride helps teeth in two ways: The fluoride that baby ingests (in food or water) enter the bloodstream and gets into the teeth, strengthening the developing enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Fluoride applied topically (through toothpaste or fluoride applications by your dentist) helps strengthen the new enamel that is being formed as teeth repair themselves (called remineralization) from the normal wear and tear.
* While still inside the gums, the permanent teeth begin mineralizing and developing enamel even before birth. Fluoride administered after birth is incorporated into the developing teeth, making them stronger.
* Nature's own experiment: People living in areas where the fluoride is naturally present in the water supply have 50 percent fewer dental caries.
* Fluoride, unlike many vitamins and minerals, has a narrow range of efficacy-toxicity, meaning the right amount helps, and too much harms the teeth by making them brittle -- a condition called fluorosis. This is why fluoride is available only by prescription and must be given to a baby in the exact dosage prescribed.
* Formulas are not made with fluoride-supplemented water.
* A pea-size dab of fluoride-containing tooth-paste is all that bay needs. Do not use both a fluoride-containing toothpaste and fluoride supplements, as this would be too much.
* The amount of fluoride naturally present in drinking water varies in different areas of the country. Check with your dentist or local water company, inquiring how many parts per million. If your tap water contains at least 0.3 parts per million, your baby doesn't need, and probably shouldn't have, fluoride supplements.
* The Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that if the water baby drinks contains less than 0.3 parts per million of fluoride, baby should be given a daily supplement of 0.25 milligrams of fluoride beginning at age six month and continued (with increased dosage) until adolescence.
* Even though your local tap water may be fluoridated, some infants drink little water, and some are always quenching their thirst. Also, if you drink bottled water, it will not be fluoridated unless you specifically request it.
* Many foods, such as grains and vegetables, naturally contain fluoride. Babies can get fluoride from the following dental sources: fluoride supplements prescribed by your doctor (often combined with vitamin drops or chewable tablets), fluoride applied topically in toothpaste or in dental treatments, and a fluoridated water supply.
* The jury is still out on whether predominantly breastfed babies need fluoride supplements. At this time the evidence suggests they do not, although little fluoride enters the baby through mother's milk and this amount is not altered significantly by a change in her diet.
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