By now, you probably feel like you’ve mastered changing diapers and feeding your sweet new baby. Maybe you’ve even survived the throes of colic or reflux. Now that your baby is 5 months old, you may be entering into a new routine, and you’re wondering what’s normal.
Is your baby sleeping enough? Growing enough? Are you doing the right things to keep them safe? These questions may be keeping you up at night! Luckily, instead of losing more sleep you’ve come to the right place. Follow along as we break down what to expect with a 5-month-old!
Around 5 months of age, many babies will:
Wondering if your baby is still on the optimal growth curve?
The average 5 1/2-month-old male
The average length for a 5-month-old
Also, just in case you’re feeling worried, it’s normal for your baby’s head size to grow by an average of 1/2 inch each month during these first few months.
Around 5 months, you may find that your baby:
- is teething (or drooling in preparation to cut teeth)
- is able to hold their head up when sitting and better support themselves
- explores their body parts (especially their feet!)
- rolls from their stomach to their back
- can tell family members and strangers apart
- smiles at themselves in the mirror
- brings objects toward their mouth
To help your baby reach these milestones, you should:
- continue to encourage plenty of tummy time and floor play
- play games like This Little Piggy with their fingers and toes
- read books and sing songs with your baby
- encourage babbling with positive reactions and lots of back and forth conversations
- place age-appropriate toys at good distances for grasping
- show your baby what they look like in the mirror
- offer colorful books and toys that you can engage with together
By the time your baby is 5 months old, you’ve likely survived the 4-month sleep regression, and your 5-month-old little one is beginning to give you longer chunks of sleep again at night!
Some 5-month-old babies may be able to sleep the whole night in one stretch without a feed, or they might only need one feed.
Typically, babies sleep 14 to 16 hours a day at 5 months. This usually takes the form of 3 to 4 naps (totaling anywhere from 4 to 6 hours of the day) and 10 to 12 hours at night.
Regardless of what your baby’s habits are, remember that it’s completely normal for breastfed babies to wake up at least once a night during the first year of life.
At 5 months of age, many babies are still following a schedule of eat, play, sleep.
Your five-month-old baby will probably be staying awake about 2 hours or more between naps, and nap for an hour or 2 at each nap.
A bottle-fed baby will typically be feeding every 4 to 5 hours during the day and taking in anywhere from 4 to 8 ounces a feed. A breastfed baby will eat approximately 6 to 8 times a day.
It’s important to note that 5-month-old babies do not need any other liquid besides breast milk or formula. At 6 months, water can be introduced in a sippy cup, and cow’s milk can be introduced at 12 months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, when you can start to introduce solids. While it’s not suggested, some parents may choose to start solids earlier.
The guidelines for giving solids are:
- baby can hold their head up while sitting
- baby shows interest in food
- baby is at least 13 pounds
- your doctor gives their approval
If offering food, it’s not necessary to do so more than once a day.
You’ll change diapers throughout the day as needed, but you can expect to go through approximately 6 to 8 diapers a day.
Because your baby is on the move and coming in contact with more people, you may see an increase in illness. Here are some to look out for:
- Ear infections. Once your baby discovers their ears, it can get confusing whether they’re tugging on their ear because it’s a new thing or because of ear infection pain. Keeping an eye out for a super fussy baby with cold or flu symptoms (and maybe a fever) can help you know when to seek medical assistance.
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It’s important to watch for this in the winter, as it can develop into bronchiolitis or sometimes pneumonia.
- Roseola. This is a viral illness characterized by a high fever followed by a skin rash.
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Now that your child is able to move around more and touching lots of surfaces (and people), they’re at a greater likelihood of catching this disease. Frequently washing their hands helps if you hope to avoid it.
- Colds and coughs. It’s easy for little ones to catch a cold or cough. Most of the time it won’t become something more serious, but it’s important to watch it closely (remember it’s not recommended to give your baby cough medication).
There are a few safety issues that you should especially watch for when your baby is 5 months:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Remember to make sure that your child is placed to sleep on their back in a safe sleep environment.
- Choking. As your child begins to try solid foods and brings more objects to their mouth, the risk of choking becomes much more of a reality. It can be beneficial to review how to handle infant choking as you near these milestones.
- Car accidents. It’s important to make sure that your little one is strapped in safe and secure whenever you take them in the car. Keep an eye on their car seat to ensure your baby fits correctly and that it’s installed properly.
- Falls. Now that your baby is moving and rolling more, it’s easy for them to take a tumble off of beds and elevated changing tables if left unattended. It’s important to make sure your child is buckled in or you have a hand on them at all times when they are not on the ground.
- Burns. Because your little one will be grabbing things, it’s important to watch out for coffee cups and other hot liquids. It’s a good idea to avoid carrying both your baby and an open cup of hot liquid at the same time!
Whether you have a 5-month-old baby on your hands or are thinking ahead to when your little one gets bigger, knowing what to expect can help you feel confident as a parent.
If you’re worried about your child’s development, speaking with your pediatrician can be beneficial. Additionally, many new parents find lifelong friends in moms’ groups! Together you can share the joys and frustrations of daily life with your little ones.