Your baby month by month
Your Baby: month 5
Your baby’s physical and emotional milestones
You’re heading for a honeymoon period with your baby. You’re now much more familiar with each other, you’re a more confident mom – and hopefully less tired because your baby is sleeping well at night.
The best part is that your baby is also starting to interact with you. He will hold up his arms to be picked up and he’ll make a fuss when you want to leave him. But he will be full of smiles and laughter when you play with him and he really does love to laugh at your little jokes (like hiding a toy behind your back and suddenly bringing it out again with a flourish).
Your baby can now stay engaged with you for a little longer, so time together will be longer and more rewarding for your both. Now is a good time to start reading to your baby if you haven’t already. This is a crucial time for language development and your baby will just love the attention he’s getting, cuddled up as you read a book.
Around the 5–6 month mark is often when you hear moms say that they “could have ten more babies right now”.
Your baby may roll right over from front to back and vice versa this month. Be careful of leaving your baby on any surface unattended. The best news is that your baby may start to sit now too – but not for long as his core strength isn’t yet developed enough to stabilise his body when he sits. You can try propping him with pillows for a little while if he’s happy in that position.
Many bottle-feeding moms may long for the day their babies can hold their own bottles, so that they can offer it and walk out of the room. This month your baby may actually show signs of being able to do this. But it’s not advisable to leave her to it just yet.
Never prop the bottle for your baby and walk away. Propping can cause your baby to overeat or even choke.
You may be thinking about starting solids and wanting to prepare for the time when your baby takes her first spoonful of real food. Here are a few things you need to remember:
- Your baby’s tongue-thrust reflex has started to disappear so he’s got more chance of getting the food to the back of his mouth to swallow than before. This reflex is what enables your baby to suck so vigorously
- Look for signs that your baby is ready for solids: he’s able to sit up and hold up his own head
- He’s interested in your food and often reaches out for it. This is more a case of curiosity than actually wanting the food you’re eating. Remember your baby is now at the stage where everything is going in the mouth
- He’s double his birth weight.
Studies have shown that an infant’s gastrointestinal tract may not have matured enough to properly digest or utilize solid foods until around 6-8 months old so do not be too eager to start giving your baby solid food.
Stimulating your 5-month-old baby
By now you will probably have had enough time to establish a routine based upon her patterns of sleep/wakefulness/hunger and have ensured that your day is organised accordingly.
During the day, she will probably require two to two and a half hours of wakefulness approximately four times a day. She will need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each evening, which may or may not be interrupted by feeding.
It may seem like a lot of boring repetition at this stage but in order for your baby to build the muscles he needs to be able to sit up unaided; time on his tummy is the best thing you can offer him.
If you’ve already been incorporating regular tummy time into your baby’s routine, add a little more and offer him a few toys he can reach for when he’s on his tummy to keep his interest. If this doesn’t work offer him a mirror to look into or get down onto the floor with him and interact face to face.
Expert advice for month 5
Your baby has reached the delightful age when he enjoys socialising and will happily smile at or go to strangers. While your baby undoubtedly has his own personality, behavior patterns at this age can be learned through positive reinforcement. This means rewarding him with regular hugs and kisses that boost his confidence and sense of belonging.
Buying toys for your baby
Remember when buying toys or playing with your baby that he is learning through his senses – touch, smell, sight, sound and putting everything into his mouth. These can be smooth plastic, rough toweling or sponge, squeaky, musical or a rattle.
Be sure that these toys don’t have buttons, bows, pom-poms or anything that can come loose – otherwise your baby could swallow or choke on them. Babies love repetitive games like peek-a-boo or looking at themselves in a mirror.
Strengthening your baby's muscles:
Strengthen your baby’s back muscles by sitting him on the floor, leaning forwards onto a pillow supporting his tummy. Encourage him to enjoy this position with a few toys to play with.
Babies who are carried on their mother’s backs for a little while during the day benefit by getting a bird’s-eye view of the world while strengthening their back muscles and hip joints.