Goodbye newborn days, hello to your laughing, smiling 5-month-old baby! I like to think of the 5-month stage as the sweet spot of parenting, with a happy baby who can’t move yet. Here’s more about what you can expect this month.
Soaking it All In
While for some families, this 5-month-old baby stage may feel like one of the sweetest (no crawling baby to chase after just yet!), let’s talk for a minute about the pressure to “soak it all in.”
This oft-heard advice comes from well-meaning parents who have already passed the baby stage and thus, are definitely looking back through rose-tinted—and rested—glasses. Any parent in the actual trenches, or those of us who have started to climb out, but still have one foot firmly in the hole, know the truth: that you can “soak it all in” and enjoy the good parts, but there are also some freaking hard parts too.
Here’s what we want you to know: you’re allowed to complain, you’re allowed to feel exhausted, you’re allowed to miss parts of your past life, and you’re certainly allowed to have a bad day now and then. Becoming a parent doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly never supposed to face hardship now and then. And the pressure on moms especially to “soak it all in” discounts the very real challenges that so many families face, from children with special needs to employment struggles or mental illness. None of life’s challenges disappear just because you have a baby, and we want to make sure that you never feel like you can’t share your reality, even while you soak up the sweet parts of motherhood.
5-Month-Old Baby Milestones
At 5 months old, your baby will most likely be “in between” major milestones, such as sitting up and getting ready to crawl. The next month—6 months—marks a major shift in development, so until then, you may notice that your baby is ahead on certain skills and behind on others, and that’s OK! This month is all about mastering skills, growing, and it will probably feel like your baby will reach some milestones overnight, while others will take more time.
Babies all develop at their own pace, and while it’s important to be aware of big milestones so you can talk to your doctor if you have any concerns, it’s also good to remember to give your little one time to learn and explore at their own pace.
By 5 months, your baby has most likely mastered:
- “Baby talk” and laughing
- Shows expression when “talking”
- Different cries for hunger, pain, or being tired
- Grabbing toys with one hand
- Recognizes people and familiar objects from a distance, like a pet or favorite toy, or even a bottle
- Is beginning to sit without help (you might want to have a hand nearby to catch any unsteady falls!)
- Rolling from back to stomach
- May be pushing up on hands and knees and “rocking”
- That little personality is shining through!
Five months is definitely the age when babies can suddenly develop skills you didn’t even see coming—like rolling over or scooting, so take extra precaution this month to be sure you never leave your baby alone on a bed or high surface, like a changing table, because they really can start to move in seconds.
And although you won’t be seeing your doctor until your baby’s 6-month check-up, if you have any concerns at all about your baby’s development, you should call your medical professional to discuss your next steps.
Your Growing Baby
Here’s what to expect during month 5 for growth and feeding:
How much should a 5-month-old baby weigh?
According to the World Health Organization’s infant growth charts, the average weight for a 5-month-old baby girl is just over 15 pounds, while boys will weigh in at close to 15 and a ½ pounds. Every month, your baby is putting on about another whole pound. Impressive, right?
However, every baby grows at different rates, so the best way to gauge your baby’s growth is with their own individual growth chart, which your doctor will monitor at their well-child check-ups.
How much should a 5-month-old eat?
On average, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at 5 months, your baby will drink between 4-6 ounces about every 4 hours during daytime hours if you’re formula feeding. If you’re feeding your baby breast milk, your baby may also drink more at night than an exclusively formula-fed baby, because breast milk is digested more completely. A formula-fed baby should not eat more than 32 ounces per 24 hours.
If you’re nursing your baby, you should continue nursing on demand and keep in mind that your baby will most likely nurse more whenever he or she is growing. The next growth spurt your baby will most likely go through occurs around 6 months, but some babies might hit that growth a little early.
Special Considerations This Month
This month, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Is it teeth already? If you’re noticing that your baby seems a little more fussy than usual, has swollen gums, is drooling all over the place, and wants to chomp on everything, teething might be the culprit. Although most babies start to get their first teeth in sometime around 6 months, some babies can start as early as 4 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can provide comfort measures, such as cooled teethers (silicone teethers are great for this—just pop them in the freezer!) or pacifiers, and talk to your doctor about any additional remedies they recommend for pain relief.
- What’s that rash? With teething, some babies also develop what’s called a “teething rash” around their mouth. This rash is usually related to the excess drool and inflammation as the gums swell and the tooth erupts, and it’s not dangerous. If your baby’s skin breaks down, you may try a skin guard ointment, or take care to gently wipe away excess drool. Some babies may also develop looser stools when they are teething, so they may be prone to a diaper rash as well. Remember take care to change dirty diapers promptly and use diaper cream to heal and prevent any diaper rash that develops.
- Vitamin D drops—If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, be sure to continue giving your baby the recommended Vitamin D drops from your doctor. Breast milk does not naturally contain Vitamin D, so it’s an important vitamin for babies to get until they are old enough to get it from other sources.
- When can we start solid foods? While some babies may be ready for solid foods as early as 5 months, you should check with your doctor before introducing any, as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast milk or formula for the first six months of a baby’s life.
Sleep is on the Horizon
By 5 months old, your baby may be sleeping through the night, which, for a baby, could be anywhere from 8-12 hours straight. But many babies still are not sleeping through the night at this age.
If you’re one of the parents of a baby who likes hanging out at night, don’t fear—you’re not alone and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. Every baby is different! As your baby grows, it’s a good opportunity to continue to try to instill good sleep habits and keeping a consistent schedule can help with that.
If you haven’t already, try instituting a 5-month-old sleep schedule that looks something like this:
- Wake-up time: 7 AM
- First nap: 9:30-11 AM
- Second nap: 1-3 PM
- Bedtime: 6-7 PM
- Total amount of sleep per day/night: 12-15 hours
The most important thing to remember with baby sleep is that consistency is key. If you’re trying to get your baby to sleep through the night, it’s probably not the best idea to skip naps during the day or try putting your baby to sleep at 9 PM one night, then hope they sleep at 7 PM the next day. Babies, like many adults, are creatures of habit, so stick to a schedule whenever possible.
It’s also important to learn your baby’s sleep cues and to not wait until your baby is overly exhausted before laying them down. Watch for signs such as:
- Rubbing their eyes
- Putting their head down on your shoulder or floor
- Wanting to nurse or take a bottle
Taking Care of You
As you prepare to get ready to enter into the “next stage” of baby parenting—with a baby who will be on the move—this is a good time to do a check-in with yourself and your partner, if applicable. How are you feeling, mentally and emotionally? Are your needs being met?
Odds are, you’ve been in survival mode for a while, and you might be just starting to feel like you can lift your head up for fresh air again. Take this time to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself too.
This month might be a good time to go indulge in some self-care, like scheduling a therapy session, trying a new class at the gym, or going away for a quick weekend together. You’ve been through a lot these five months, and it’s important that you care for your needs just as much as your baby’s.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should my baby be doing at 5 months?
At 5 months, your baby still loves studying faces (yours best of all!), may be trying to roll, and is learning to sit upright. If you have one, a Boppy pillow an excellent tool to help them learn those sitting-up skills.
What can babies eat at 5 months?
At 5 months, your baby should still be getting their nutrition from either breast milk or formula, but you can introduce solid foods if your little one is ready.
Can I give my 5-month-old water?
Your baby does not need water, as they will get all of their hydration needs from breast milk or formula.
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