Baby development and milestones: your 5 month old

Your baby will start to roll over, crawl, and sit upright. Here's what else you can expect in your baby's fifth month.

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Congratulations! Your baby has crossed the four-month mark which would have kept you on your toes all the time! And while you must celebrate that your little one is nearing his six-month mark, be prepared for the real adventures as this is the time your 5 month old baby will start babbling, rolling over and, maybe, even start crawling!

Here’s what you can look forward to as your baby enters his fifth month.

5 Month old development and milestones: Is your baby on track? 

Physical Development

There are quite a few milestones that you can expect or start to notice in the early stages of the fifth month. An exciting one of that most babies can start sitting upright for a longer period of time in their fifth month.

But they may need a little support. So throw in a cushion to support your 5 month old baby’s back as you encourage him to sit. Gradually, once you see that your baby is comfortable in his sitting position, you can introduce him to his high chair and help sit with the whole family during meal times.

If your baby hasn’t started rolling over yet, chances are he will make an attempt at it in his fifth month and should be comfortably rolling over from his back to tummy. This means that you have to be extra careful when leaving him alone. We advise that it would be best for you to keep your baby on the mat when you’re busy doing your household chores to avoid any falls. 

Most 5 month old babies also start crawling and scooting if they haven’t already. Babies also start working up their legs, rocking during the day, holding their legs together, and basically just putting a lot of effort into moving around.

Another key skill that your baby develops at five months is grasping. You’ll notice that your baby is able to grasp his toys or sippy cup properly as well as transfer objects from one hand to the other, which is a big achievement. Yay! 

Tips

  • Make sure your rolling and crawling munchkin is never out of your sight, since at five months your baby becomes more active and might hurt himself.
  • Childproofing is something you should be looking at right now to avoid any mishaps.
  • Engage him in activities that encourage movements, like keeping his toy a bit away from his reach when he is on his tummy. He may outgrow the baby gym at any moment, so make the most out of it!

When to see a doctor

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If your baby:

  • Is unable to hold his head steady.
  • Has difficulty turning his head from side to side.

Cognitive Development

Five months is the time when a baby begins to have his own identity and, in a way, give you a glimpse of the type of baby he will be in the months to come — happy, expressive, cranky or emotional. 

Your 5 month old baby is more expressive and also responsive. He will also try to hold his gaze upon you for a longer period of time, perhaps trying to read your lips and understand what you’re saying.

Suddenly you will notice that your baby is trying to make sense of every sound he hears, such as a bird chirping, the snapping of fingers, and a dog barking in the neighbourhood.

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Tips

  • Encourage everyone in the house to actively communicate with your baby so that language skills are nurtured. 
  • Get your 5 month old baby toys that make noises or are interactive in other ways. 
  • Match noises with a description. For example, if you pet dog barks, then say “Oooh, listen darling! Sammy is barking – bow wow!”

When to speak to a doctor

If your baby: 

  • Does not react at all or very much to noises or new environments. 
  • Does not show emotions.

You can expect to see some very cute behaviour from your 5 month old baby!

Social and Emotional Development

While your baby is still not old enough to fully express his anger, frustration, and joy, at five months he would most probably be more expressive and display love, affection and a distinct sense of humour.

He may find humour in every small thing, such as the way you call out his name or when you play peek-a-boo with him.

Tips for parents

  • Make your baby giggle and record this precious moment! Never will his smiles and laughs be more forthcoming than now. 
  • Tickle your baby! 
  • Play games like “This little piggy went to market” or “Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear”, where you engage your baby’s senses. 

When to see a doctor

If your baby: 

  • Does not engage with you and/or others at all. 

Speech and Language Development

Your baby’s communication skills will be at an all-time high this month. And he may also suddenly develop a sense of humour.

You’ll suddenly notice that your baby’s coos have increased and he will also start saying his first “da-da,” “ba-ba,” and “ma-ma.” He will also try to respond when you call out his name or say something peculiar and will perhaps let out a squeal in excitement.

Tips 

  • If you haven’t already, this is also the time to start reading to your baby and increase his vocabulary by reading books that are meant for babies.
  • You can also try and repeat a few common words to your baby that you use every day such as “milk,” “paci,” and “sleep.”
  • Do note that when you speak to your babies, use correct words and not made up ones, such as “mimi” for “milk” or “mum mum” for water, for instance, as your baby would take these as the correct words.

When to see a doctor

If your child: 

  • Is not making any sounds at all.  

By six months, your little one will be ready for solids.

Health and nutrition

Your baby is growing up fast and his hunger has grown substantially from last month as he prepares himself for solids next month. He should weigh between 6.7 kg to 8.4 kg and should measure between 60 cm to 68 cm in height. That said, variations are normal as long as your child has been following a percentile since birth. 

At five months your baby should have a proper sleep pattern and might be able to sleep through the night if he is well-fed and there’s nothing that is bothering him. This means that you’ll get more time as a new mother to sleep and rest, so enjoy this phase. However, this also means that your baby will not be in any mood to sleep longer during the day and will keep you on your toes.

Congratulations on continuing to breastfeed your 5 month old baby! Rest assured he’s getting the very best of nutrition this way. 

This month, your baby should receive the following vaccinations: 

  • Hepatitis B – 3rd dose: Immunisation against Hepatitis B
  • DTaP – 3rd dose: Immunisation against Diphtheria, Pertussis & Tetanus
  • IPV – 3rd dose: Immunisation against Poliomyelitis
  • Hib – 3rd dose: Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate – 2nd dose: Immunisation against Pneumococcal Disease

Tips 

  • While some babies sleep well at night by now, others are still unsettled, and this is quite normal. Help your baby sleep by playing white noise in his room and dimming the lights in the night. 
  • Breastfeeding is a great way to counter the pain of jabs. Latch baby on while he’s getting his shots. 

When to see a doctor

If your baby: 

  • Shows a significant drop in weight or if any parameter falls below the 5th percentile. 
  • Has fever over 38 degrees C. 

Five months is the time many parents enjoy the most with their baby as it is the time he begins to respond and express himself for the first time. So enjoy this phase to the fullest!

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