Baby development Q&As with our health visitor

Our health visitor reassures mums about their baby’s development, on everything from rolling over to talking

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Q. My baby is 6 months old and really seems to be struggling to roll over –  what are the best ways to encourage him?

A. Not all babies roll over, although most will start showing signs of doing it from around 4 months. At this age he will generally have developed stronger upper body and neck muscles, along with better head control. These are the same muscles that are needed for sitting, so if your baby’s beginning to learn how to sit up he’s developing well.

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You shouldn’t get overly worried about developmental stages but you can help him along by encouraging plenty of floor play, leaving interesting toys just out of reach for him to try and grab, and seeing if he’ll try and flip himself over. Rolling from the back onto the tummy usually comes first, but he may not bother to do this.

And remember that falls can happen very quickly, so never leave little ones unattended, especially on beds, sofas or changing areas.

Q: How can I tell if my 6 month old’s speech is developing normally?

A: In order for her speech to develop, she’ll need good hearing. All babies have their hearing tested as newborns, but it’s not a complete guarantee of normal hearing throughout childhood. Some conditions evolve as little ones grow, while repeated ear infections can also cause problems. If you’re worried, see your health visitor or doctor.

Your baby will probably be cooing, laughing and shouting out. The next step is double babbling noises, like ‘mama’, by around 8 or 9 months. Her first words will probably come after her first birthday. Give her lots of attention when she tries to communicate, with good eye contact and lots of smiles. Chat to her about anything and everything. Sing songs, tell stories and make language fun.

Q: My 9 month old daughter barely makes a peep, while her little friends are all making noises. Should I be worried about it?

A: Many babies begin to coo and squeal from when they’re around a couple of months old. This moves on to more tuneful babbling, and shouting out in excitement and using double sounds like da-da or ma-ma at around 8 months.

Early chatter then progresses to the odd word at around 12 to 15 months old. All babies develop differently, though, so your little one’s probably happy just observing and taking things in and will start to pipe up when she’s ready.

If you’re still worried, have a chat with your health visitor and get your little girl’s hearing checked – even if her first test was clear – so you can rule out any hearing problems.

Q: My 7 month old has weaned happily apart from one thing – she won’t go near fruit, not even in a puree. I’ve even tried giving it to her sliced and still had no luck. What else can I do?

A: During these early months of weaning, babies learn about textures, smells and flavours by touching, squishing, smelling and tasting a range of different foods. Most babies need to go through these stages quite a few times before they eventually eat a new food. It’s messy I know, but don’t lose heart with any food group.

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Your little one’s working her way up to eating a variety of different foods, so keep offering her small amounts of fruit and try mixing it with veggies, like apple and carrot, or pear and parsnip. And do remember that you’re a huge influence on your daughter too, so eat fruit in front of her. If you’re holding a banana or apple, she’ll become inquisitive about it and will soon want to copy mummy and have a taste of what’s on your plate.

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