Breastfeeding at 6 Months & Beyond
At each stage expect change in routine, including breastfeeding, as baby learns new skills and abilities.
- Around 6 months baby will begin to sit, hold its head steady, reach for objects, place items in the mouth, jabber, roll, laugh, and enjoy simple games like pat-a-cake.
- Starting Solids
- Baby can now swallow food instead of pushing it out. Baby’s tongue can move food around the mouth and back to the throat to swallow.
- Baby’s intestines keep developing after birth. Breast milk contains a protective protein that coated the lining of the baby’s bowel as it developed. At 6 months this process is complete. This is one of the reasons to wait until baby is 6 months old to give baby food.
- Breastfeeding after six months helps baby digest the new foods.
- Breastfed babies are more likely to eat a variety of flavored foods.
- Even when starting baby food, breast milk continues to be the main source of nutrition for baby until they turn 1 year old.
- First teeth will not cause biting if baby is properly latched.
- Breastfeeding provides wonderful nurturing and comforting during teething.
- Remove baby from breast if satisfied, tired or bored to prevent biting.
- Around 9 months baby will learn to vocalize, crawl, stand, self-feed and play games like peek-a-boo. Baby imitates sounds and actions like mama, dada, waves bye-bye and shakes head no.
- Separation and Stranger Anxiety
- This new anxiety often causes changes in baby’s eating, sleeping and general behavior.
- Waking up at night may start happening again as baby is overwhelmed by these surges in growth and ability.
- If baby has been sleeping for longer periods at night, but is now waking up more often, baby doesn’t need more calories. Comfort baby with a pat on the back, singing a song or a cuddle with mom or dad. If you need or want to comfort baby with breastfeeding, consider limiting feeding to a few minutes. This will reduce the chance of baby developing the desire for more nighttime calories.
- Around the first birthday baby responds to one-step commands and simple questions. Read, sing and talk with baby to expand language skills.
- Separation and stranger anxiety has probably gotten better but soon enough they reach a new milestone, baby is learning to walk!
- Walking is an important and powerful surge in baby’s development which may cause waking up at night…again!
- Follow the comfort techniques in the 9 month section if baby is waking at night.
- Continue breastfeeding as long as desired by mom and baby beyond 12 months. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding through 2 years of age.
- Baby continues to benefit from the nutrition of breast milk and the bond with mom.
- Baby often self-weans due to increased interest in active play and exploration.
Reach out for breastfeeding support at any time through your breastfeeding journey! WIC has Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) and Breastfeeding Peer Counselors that provide free breastfeeding support every step of the way. There are also statewide Zoom breastfeeding classes and lactation support groups.
Each of the stages described above are signs of normal behavior and development. However sometimes normal baby behavior can be misread as a breastfeeding problem. Being prepared for each stage will help you meet your breastfeeding goal! The HUG Your Baby Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success offers short videos to prepare for developmental milestones at 6, 9 and 12 months.