Keeping your baby healthy and safe: 6 to 12 months

Your baby may start to move around from 6 months of age so they will need safe places to play and learn. Find out how to keep your baby healthy and safe between 6 and 12 months of age.

Keep your baby healthy 

Keep your baby healthy by breastfeeding them until at least 12 months of age, starting them on solid food from 6 months of age (if they are ready), looking after their teeth, immunising them and having a smokefree home and car.

Breastfeeding is still the best for your baby. If bottle feeding, hold your baby while feeding and do not put them to bed with a bottle. Your baby may be ready to start solid food from 6 months of age. Milk is the most important food for babies in the first 9 months. Offer your baby breastmilk or formula before solid food until 8–9 months of age. The best drinks for your baby are breastmilk (or formula) and water; avoid giving them other drinks.

Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear and make sure that your child is enrolled with the Community Oral Health Service (0800 825 583).

Babies and young children get sick often – coughs and colds are a normal part of childhood. They will usually get better after a few days. You can find out more about childhood illnesses or from Kidshealth. If your baby is sick and doesn’t seem to be getting any better, or you are worried about your baby, ring Healthline (0800 611 116) or take them to their doctor or practice nurse.

Get help quickly from a doctor or phone 111 if your baby shows any of the danger signs.

Keep your baby safe

Babies learn by exploring the world in which they live. When your baby starts to move around the floor and starts to eat solid food, there are some things that you will need to think about to keep them safe. Important things to think about are keeping your baby safe in bed, avoiding falls and other accidents, water safety, car safety, choking, poisons, burns and fire, and being safe in the sun.

Avoiding falls and other accidents

Give your baby safe places to play. Stay close by so that you can help them when they need you. When they start to roll and crawl, block off stairs and unsafe places. It’s best to change your baby on the floor; if they are on a higher surface make sure that you keep one hand on them all the time. Baby walkers are not safe and don’t help babies to learn to walk. Put safety plugs in electric sockets when the sockets are not being used. Make sure that heavy furniture (such as bookcases) and other large objects are secured to the wall. This is good for earthquake safety and prevents children pulling heavy objects on top of themselves.

Water safety

Always watch your baby in and near water. Always stay with your baby when they are in the bath – they could drown in the time it takes you to answer the phone. Keep nappy buckets and other water containers empty if you are not using them; always cover them when they are full and keep them out of reach.

Car safety

Use a car seat in all cars, for all trips. Car seats should remain rear facing until your child is 2 years old.


Babies can choke easily, so keep small, hard foods and small toys out of your baby’s reach.


Keep household cleaners, dishwasher powder, chemicals and medicines out of your baby’s reach to avoid poisoning and burns. Child-resistant lids help to protect your baby from poisoning.

Burns and fire

Always use fire guards around wood burners, open fires and heaters, and make sure that heaters can’t tip over. Avoid putting clothes near or on heaters. Never leave bar heaters or heaters without thermostats on in the room where your baby sleeps. Make sure that your house has smoke alarms – and check their batteries twice a year.

Never shake, hit or smack your baby – a shake or hit could damage them forever. If you feel that you might shake, hit or smack a baby, put them in a safe place and walk away for a short time.

Related website

Keeping kids safe – Product Safety New Zealand
Choosing safe products and learning to use them safely can help to keep your kids safe. The products on this page are covered by product standards.

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