5-month-old baby: Development, milestones & growth

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki Stevenson

Nikki is a parenting writer and a mom to three wild boys who keep her on her toes (and occasionally make her question her sanity). With over 15 years of experience in the parenting industry, she has more tips and tricks than Mary Poppins on speed dial. When she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can find her sipping on coffee, hiding in the bathroom for five minutes of...
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Updated on Jul 09, 2024 · 12 mins read
5-month-old baby: Development, milestones & growth

Your little one has hit the 5-month-old mark! It's a time of incredible growth and discovery, both for them and for you as a parent. As you navigate this exciting stage together, it's worth taking a moment to pause and appreciate the journey you've been on so far.


In this guide, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of your 5-month-old’s development – from their adorable personalities to their newfound wonder of the world around them. 

5-month-old baby physical milestones


At this stage, your 5-month-old baby is likely making significant strides in their motor skills and physical abilities. Here are some key milestones you might notice.

Sitting up
While most babies likely can’t sit up without support just yet, they may enjoy sitting while propped up by pillows or with assistance. This helps strengthen a 5-month-old core’s muscles and prepares them for an independent sitting position in the coming months.

Rolling over
Many babies tend to have mastered the skill of rolling over from front to back and back to front. These newfound rolling skills enhance their mobility and exploration as they navigate their surroundings.

Grasping objects
Your 5-month-old baby’s hand-eye coordination continues to improve – this is when your baby starts to grasp and manipulate objects more skillfully. They may be able to pick up larger, easy-to-grasp items like soft balls and blocks, enhancing their sensory exploration.

Understanding cause and effect
Your 5-month-old baby is developing a deeper understanding of cause and effect. They may intentionally interact with objects to observe the outcomes, such as banging toys to produce sounds or reaching for objects to explore different textures.


5-month-old baby weight and length


As your little one celebrates their fifth month of life, you might be curious about their growth, particularly in terms of weight and length. All babies develop at their own pace, however understanding these aspects of your baby’s development can provide valuable insights into their overall health and well-being.

Weight gain
By the time your baby is a 5-month-old, they have likely been steadily gaining weight since birth, whether you are using breast milk or formula. Weight gain tends to slow from 3 months to 6 months, so the expected weight gain at this time is 100-150 grams per week.

Length
As a 5-month-old, your little one may have grown by approximately 9 to 10 centimetres since birth. 

Doctor visits
Regular check-ups with your GP or Child and Family Health Nurse are crucial for monitoring the growth and development of your 5-month-old baby. During these appointments, the doctor or nurse will measure your baby’s weight, length, and head circumference, comparing them to the World Health Organisation growth chart to ensure they are progressing as expected.


5-month-old health


While your 5-month-old baby continues to grow and develop, it’s essential to pay attention to their overall well-being and address any health concerns that may arise. Here are some key considerations.

Regular check-ups: Even though there may not be a specific well-baby visit scheduled for the 5-month-old mark, it’s essential to stay on top of your baby’s healthcare needs. Schedule regular check-ups with your GP or your baby’s healthcare provider to monitor your baby’s growth, development, and immunisations.

Vaccinations: Keep track of your 5-month-old baby’s vaccination schedule and ensure they receive all recommended vaccines on time. Vaccinations play a crucial role in protecting your baby from serious illnesses and disease control, so staying up-to-date is vital for their health and well-being.

Healthy diet: As your 5-month-old baby continues to grow, their nutritional needs evolve as well. Whether you’re feeding with breast milk or formula, provide your baby with a balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. Solid foods are recommended from around 6 months old. 

Hygiene and safety: Practise good hygiene habits to protect your baby from illness and infection. Wash your hands frequently, especially before handling your baby or preparing their food. Keep their environment clean and safe, removing any potential hazards or choking hazards.

Skin care: Your baby’s delicate skin requires gentle care to stay healthy and moisturise – use mild, fragrance-free products designed specifically for babies. Check for any signs of irritation or rashes, and consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

5-month-old baby feeding


As your baby reaches five months, you’re likely deep into the rhythm of breastfeeding, formula feeding, or perhaps a combination of both. Let’s explore how to manage feeding during this stage, especially if teething becomes a factor.

Breastfeeding: By the fifth month, breastfeeding may have become a well-established routine for you and your baby. However, the emergence of teething can introduce new challenges. Teething discomfort might lead to increased fussiness during nursing sessions or changes in your baby’s latch due to tender gums.

For breastfed babies during teething, here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Gentle comfort: Offer your baby gentle comfort during teething episodes (watch for baby’s cues) by cuddling, rocking, or providing a chilled teething toy for them to gnaw on before or after nursing.
  2. Hygiene: Maintain good hygiene practices, such as cleaning your baby’s gums before breastfeeding and ensuring proper latch to minimise discomfort and reduce the risk of nipple damage or infection.
  3. Pain relief: Discuss safe pain relief options with your healthcare provider if your baby experiences significant discomfort during teething. They may recommend appropriate remedies or medications to alleviate discomfort.

Remember, teething is a temporary phase, and with patience and support, you can navigate through it while maintaining a positive breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.

Formula feeding: Teething can also affect formula feeding, as discomfort may lead to changes in feeding patterns or preferences.

For formula-fed babies during teething, consider the following:

  1. Comfort feeding: Similar to breastfeeding, offer comfort to your baby during teething episodes by cuddling, rocking, or providing a chilled teething toy before or after feeding.
  2. Hygiene and sterilisation: Continue to adhere to strict hygiene practices when preparing and handling formula, including sterilising bottles and feeding equipment to minimise the risk of infection.
  3. Feeding adjustments: Be flexible with feeding schedules and volumes to accommodate your baby’s changing needs during teething. They may prefer smaller, more frequent feeds or different feeding positions to alleviate discomfort.

Signs of solid food readiness: While WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, some babies may show signs of readiness for introducing solid foods around the five-month mark. Here are signs your 5-month-old baby may be ready:

  • Increased curiosity: Your baby shows interest in watching others eat and may reach for food or utensils.
  • Sitting up: Your baby can sit upright with minimal support, indicating improved head and neck control as well as core stability
  • Loss of tongue thrust reflex: Your baby’s tongue thrust reflex, where they push food out of their mouth with their tongue, has diminished.

If you’re considering introducing baby solids before six months, discuss options with your baby’s healthcare provider or Child Health and Family Nurse.

Activities for supporting development


Many 5-month-old babies are becoming more interactive and curious about the world around them. Stimulating activities can support their cognitive, motor, and sensory development while strengthening the bond between you and your little one. Here are some fun and enriching activities to try to help your baby learn.

Tummy time fun: Tummy time remains crucial for strengthening your baby’s neck, shoulder, and arm muscles while promoting motor skills development. Make tummy time enjoyable by placing colourful toys or mirrors within reach to encourage reaching and grasping.

Interactive play: Engage your active baby in interactive play by singing songs, making funny faces, or playing peek-a-boo. These simple activities foster social interaction, communication skills, and emotional bonding.

Exploration station: Set up an exploration station with various safe and age-appropriate toys for your 5-month-old to explore using their hands and mouth. Choose toys with different textures, shapes, and colours to stimulate sensory exploration and cognitive development.

Reading time: Introduce your baby to the wonderful world of books by reading aloud to them. Choose board books with bright illustrations and simple, repetitive text. Reading helps develop language development skills, baby’s hearing, encourages bonding, and fosters a love of learning from an early age.

Musical moments: Create a musical environment by singing nursery rhymes, playing gentle music, or introducing musical toys like rattles or shakers. Musical experiences help baby develop auditory, rhythm perception, and motor coordination.

Sensory play: Explore sensory play activities with your baby, such as letting them splash in a shallow water basin, feeling different textures with their hands, or playing with safe, edible finger paints. Sensory play enhances cognitive development, promotes exploration, and stimulates the senses.

Mirror play: Place a baby-safe mirror in front of your little one during supervised playtime. Encourage them to interact with their reflection by making faces, reaching out, or babbling. Mirror play promotes self-awareness, visual tracking, and social development.

Outdoor adventures: Take your baby outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine. Go for leisurely strolls in a baby carrier or pram, explore nature in a nearby park, or simply enjoy some time in your garden. Outdoor experiences expose your baby to new sights, sounds, and sensations, fostering curiosity and sensory exploration – it is also great for baby’s health.

Baby yoga: Gentle baby yoga poses, such as bicycle kicks, leg lifts, or stretching exercises, can help promote flexibility, strengthen muscles, and improve coordination. Incorporate these movements into your daily routine for a fun and beneficial bonding experience.

Snuggle time: Don’t forget the importance of snuggle time! Cuddle up with your baby for plenty of hugs, kisses, and affectionate moments. Skin-to-skin contact promotes bonding, regulates your baby’s body temperature and heart rate, and provides a sense of security and comfort which can calm them down and may even help them fall asleep.

Sleep training: If you are interested in sleep training, now would be a good time to start introducing it to assist with the baby sleeping routine.

Your baby loves red and blue


At five months old, your baby’s senses are developing rapidly, and they’re particularly drawn to bold colours like red and blue. These vibrant hues capture their attention and stimulate their visual perception, making them perfect for incorporating into your baby’s environment. Here’s why your baby loves red and blue, and why they can assist with developmental milestones.

  1. Visual simulation: Red and blue are high-contrast colours that stand out to your baby’s developing vision. Your baby’s eyesight is developing so these bold colours are easier for them to see and track, encouraging visual exploration and engagement.
  2. Attention grabbers: Research suggests that babies are naturally attracted to red and blue hues due to their ability to capture attention. These colours are often used in toys, books, and nursery decor to captivate your baby’s interest and promote sensory stimulation.
  3. Emotional response: Red is often associated with warmth, energy, and excitement, while blue is linked to calmness, tranquillity, and serenity. Exposing your baby to these colours may evoke different emotional responses and help regulate their mood.

Developmental benefits: By introducing your baby to red and blue objects, toys, and patterns, you’re providing valuable visual stimulation that supports their cognitive and sensory development. Encourage your baby to explore toys with these colours to enhance their visual tracking, depth perception, and object recognition skills.

Items you will need this month


As your baby continues to grow and explore the world around them, having the right essentials on hand can make daily caregiving tasks more manageable and enjoyable. Here’s a checklist of items you’ll need to support your 5-month-old baby’s needs:

  1. Nappies and wipes: Stock up on nappies in the appropriate size for your baby’s weight, along with plenty of wipes for quick and easy clean-ups during nappy changes.
  2. Clothing: Ensure your baby has a variety of comfortable outfits suitable for different weather conditions. Choose soft, breathable fabrics that allow for easy movement and provide warmth and protection.
  3. Feeding supplies: Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, make sure you have all the necessary supplies, including bottles, teats, breast pumps, and storage containers for breast milk or formula.
  4. High chair or booster seat: Invest in a sturdy high chair or booster seat with safety straps to support your baby during meal times. Choose a model that is easy to clean and adjusts as your baby grows.
  5. Teething toys: If your baby is starting to teethe, provide them with safe and soothing teething toys to alleviate discomfort and encourage healthy oral development. Look for toys made from BPA-free materials that are easy for your baby to hold and chew on.
  6. Baby carrier or sling: A baby carrier or sling allows you to keep your baby close while keeping your hands free for daily tasks. Choose a carrier that provides adequate support for your baby’s head and neck and allows for comfortable carrying positions.
  7. Developmental toys: Select age-appropriate toys that stimulate your baby’s senses and encourage exploration and play. Look for toys with contrasting colours, different textures, and interactive features to keep your baby engaged and entertained.
  8. Baby monitor: A reliable baby monitor gives you peace of mind by allowing you to keep an eye (and ear) on your baby while they sleep or play in another room. Choose a monitor with video and audio capabilities for added reassurance.

Healthcare supplies: Keep essential healthcare supplies on hand, including a thermometer, nasal aspirator, and baby nail clippers. Be prepared for common health concerns like fever, congestion, and minor injuries.

Sources


5-6 months: Baby development (2024) Raising Children Network. Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/babies/development/development-tracker-3-12-months/5-6-months?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAjwl4yyBhAgEiwADSEjeCoXPC5nbww2Rm3BiOvKi-yjOKn4L5LOvRj2oMxjxGnHFkkFG0DzbhoCh2sQAvD_BwE

Child development 3–6 months, Healthy WA. Available at: https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Child-development-3-6-months

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