Breastfeeding the six-month-old

What should I expect when my baby is six months old?

At six months, babies are easily distracted. Their feeds vary from 5 to 15 minutes on each side and many daytime feeds are very short. They should still be feeding every 2 to 3 hours and about 7-10 times in 24 hours. Mothers with a large milk supply may find that their babies breastfeed a little more often, faster, and are less likely to take the second side. Babies start solid foods at around six months, but they don’t get a lot of calories from solids; they still depend mainly on breastfeeding. By this time, most tummy issues have settled and the evening fussy period has ended. When that happens, babies are no longer loading up on milk during that period and they tend to wake up more at night. The breasts will feel very soft and they are hardly ever full.

A) Breastfeeding the six-month-old baby

As babies grow, they increasingly interact with their mothers.

Table: Typical Breastfeeding Patterns at Six Months of Age

(Links to more information about the topics in the above table: large milk supply; length of time on the breast; amount of time from the start of one feed to the start of the next; one or both breasts.)

1) Breastfeeding patterns

The length of each breastfeed varies a lot. Many of the daytime feeds are very short. The best feeds tend to be at night or when the baby is sleepy.

 2) Nutrition and growth

Around six months, babies start solid foods. They breastfeed whenever they want and are offered solids at mealtimes. Solids do not give them a lot of nutrients at this age and they are still very much dependent on breastfeeding for most of their nutrition.

They will have already doubled their birth weight.

 3) Behaviour at the breast

Babies are very easily distracted and want to interact with their mothers. They look around and play while breastfeeding.

Many feeding behaviours such as choking, gulping, panting, and clicking have settled.

Some mothers misinterpret the shorter daytime feeds, the increasing distractibility at the breast, and the more frequent nighttime waking (see below) as signs the baby is getting ready to wean. These are normal changes and are not a sign of weaning. Babies don’t usually wean on their own before one year of age unless the mother is often away from the baby or her milk supply is very low.

B) Behaviour patterns

1) Gut symptoms

Most tummy issues have settled at this stage. Some babies may still benefit from burping.

Spitty babies will slowly stop spitting over the next six months.

2) Fussy behaviour

Babies are more tolerant of being put down. They are very alert but still need to breastfeed to sleep.

The evening fussies stop somewhere between four and six months. When that happens, babies are no longer loading up on milk during that time and they may wake up more at night. 

C) Output

Before starting solids at six months, babies do not produce stools (poop) very often. Some do it only once every 10 days. As long as they show signs of normal growth and are generally happy, mothers don’t have to worry.

Once they start solid foods at six months, the stools will be more frequent and more adult-like.

D) Changes in the mother

1) Breast changes

The breasts feel very soft and are hardly ever full.

2) Milk changes

The milk looks less rich and is slightly blue. These are normal changes and reflect the changing needs of the baby.