Independence and the rapid development of fine and gross motor skills kick into high gear during the sixth month.

Baby reaching for mother's hand
Credit: PhotoAlto/ Matton

Your baby's newfound independence may give you a chance to see traits of her personality emerge -- she may babble to herself, or sit quietly and study her toys. As her new fine and gross motor skills develop, she'll likely want to show them off, so let your baby know you're her biggest fan! Here's what to expect with your child's intellectual development this month.

What to expect: With Baby's ability to both sit up on his own and transfer objects from one hand to the other, you may see a self-reliant streak emerge. Babies at this age can become absorbed in simple, repetitive tasks, so don't worry if your little guy has been playing with the same toy for ten minutes. Baby will reach for and grasp objects with more strength and focus than you might expect, which means that if a toy is taken away or shared with another child, you may see some signs of frustration emerge.

Your baby may seem happier these days as she cries less and starts to use body language to get her point across. If you're holding Baby and she wiggles and reaches towards the floor, she's ready to be put down.

A variety of sounds and consonants, such as ba or da da will likely emerge from your little one as she learns how to manipulate her mouth to make different noises. You might even hear an echo in your home as Baby starts to imitate sounds that you make. She'll likely turn toward you if you say her name and she may show signs of being interested in conversations that are happening around her, so be sure to include her in social settings as you can.

If it hasn't happened yet, you might find that Baby is starting to be afraid of strangers (even regular caregivers can take some warming up to). This is a normal development that just shows how much more aware Baby is of where you are (and where you are not). "Try to see the first stranger anxiety as a sign that your baby has bonded with you," says Michele Borba Ed.D., Parents advisor and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. "She loves you and sees you as her 'secure base.'"

Progression: Baby's awareness of her surroundings will continue to increase as the month goes on and he may become more and more vocal. He'll likely become better at recognizing his own name and will continue to make noises to show when he's happy (and when he's not).

How to help: As your baby reaches for her toes, your glasses, or your nose, start naming the body parts to help her start to realize that these things have names. Don't be too impatient when she tries to grab your glasses and pull your hair -- she's just exploring the world around him the best she can.

When you bring her around people, act calmly so she knows she's safe. "Use a soothing voice when you're with a new person so Baby knows that person is 'okay,'" Dr. Borba suggests. Do warn relatives and caregivers of your little one's new stage so they'll refrain from rushing in too quickly to pick her up. Let them know she needs warm-up time.

Don't freak out if: Some babies have more anxiety around strangers (or anyone other than Mom or Dad), but it's not a sign of bad parenting -- it's a normal stage that most babies go through. Give Baby a chance to become familiar with the new person and show that you are happy to see the person so she can follow your lead. Help her get acclimated and let her approach the new person at her own pace.

When you should you worry: If your baby doesn't seem to be interested in exploring the world around him or isn't showing signs of increased hand coordination, bring it up with your pediatrician.

Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.

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