5-Month-Old Milestones: Your Baby's Development At 5 Months
Watching your little one grow and develop new skills is so much fun! But how do you know if they are hitting age-appropriate markers, like the 5-month-old milestones?
In this article, we’ll share helpful tips for interacting with your baby that encourage proper growth and development at the five-month mark. We’ll also dive deeper into each milestone and what you should be looking out for.
Let’s get started!
Table Of Contents
- Developmental Milestones
- Specific 5-Month-Old Milestones
- Checking On Your Baby’s Developmental Progress
- Help Your Baby Achieve Their 5-Month-Old Milestones
- What If Your Baby Doesn’t Achieve Their 5-Month-Old Milestones?
Before we talk specifically about your five month old, it’s important to look at what milestones are exactly and why you should care about them.
What Are Developmental Milestones?
Developmental milestones were determined by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget after he did a systematic study of the development of knowledge and understanding in children.
That sounds a bit complicated, but today, the CDC simply defines developmental milestones as “things most children can do by a certain age.” This means you’re actually watching your baby reach new milestones every day!
At the time of this writing (2022), statistics show that 75% of children will be able to do the same things at the same stage of development. That means these milestones are a very reliable way to measure your little one’s progress.
Why Do They Matter?
While each child is unique, knowing the 5-month-old milestones can help you determine when to expect certain behaviors and abilities, like walking and talking. These milestones are more like guidelines and approximations, but they can be fun to watch for as your little one grows!
You don’t need to be on pins and needles waiting for something to happen if it isn’t yet age-appropriate, but do keep these developmental markers in mind.
If you notice your baby is not developing at the right pace, talk to their pediatrician. Early intervention can make a world of difference.
Specific 5-Month-Old Milestones
Now that we’ve taken a look at the basics of developmental milestones, let’s walk through what to expect at around five months of age.
At five months, your baby has developed socially to the point of showing emotions, like smiling and chuckling while interacting with others or crying when someone stops playing with them. They may also frown or smile in response when someone else does it.
Your baby is developing their communication skills. They may cry in different ways to signal needs like hunger or exhaustion. They may also babble and repeat other sounds they hear.
Problem-solving skills start early! Your five month old is learning, thinking, and beginning to figure things out.
You’ll see these cognitive skills show up when they recognize you or their crib, when they see a toy and reach out for it, or when they follow you across the room with their eyes.
Little ones start to move around a lot more on their own at five months.
They are learning to roll over from their back to their stomach, holding their head up, and pushing their body up on their forearms. They can also shake a maraca or reach for a toy hanging over their crib.
How can you help? Make sure they have a safe, comfy place to sleep —like the 100% breathable Newton Baby Crib Mattress — and provide plenty of TLC!
Checking Up On Your Baby’s Developmental Progress
When you keep track of your five-month-old baby’s developmental milestones, you better understand how they are doing. It will also provide the details you need in order to seek help when something isn’t right.
Here is an easy way to keep track of what you observe:
- Take a look at the milestone lists on the CDC’s website. Print these lists, check off the milestones as your child meets them, and keep them in a file that you can bring with you to their next well-visit appointment.
- Note what activities you and your baby do together and what they seem to enjoy.
- Lastly, share anything from the list of milestones that you think your five month old should be doing that they aren’t yet. It’s great to get a professional opinion on whether it’s of concern or not.
Help Your Baby Achieve Their 5-Month-Old Milestones
Talk With Your Little One
Talk, talk, talk! It’s super important to talk to your five month old. They are rapidly absorbing everything they hear, and they are actually trying to talk back.
Of course, most of what you’ll hear are babbling sounds, but that’s great! They are practicing for real words by making all those sounds.
Read To Your Baby
There are so many amazing and entertaining board books for babies. We have a list of recommendations if you’re looking for adorable books to cuddle up with at bedtime. But really, anytime of day is a great time to read to your little one.
Incorporate Gentle Touch
Kind, loving touch plays a big role in social development. Touch also teaches your child how to regulate their own stress responses and self-soothe.
In fact, experts suggest that babies who are hugged a lot, especially when it's in response to being upset, develop the ability to respond to others in need.
Play is also an essential learning tool. For instance, playing with toys that make noise in response to an action they take teaches your baby about reactions.
In addition, partially hiding a toy encourages your child to reach out and uncover it or pull it toward them. This builds physical strength and teaches about effort and reward.
Listening to music can actually change your baby’s brain. Unicef lists a series of benefits that include mood elevation, stress reduction, oxytocin production, improved concentration and creativity, and improvement in spatial intelligence.
Try bouncing your baby to the music that is being played, or play along with maracas or other noise makers. This helps your baby connect to the music and contributes to the brain-body connection.
Prioritize Tummy Time
Tummy time is an important part of your little one’s routine for several reasons.
For example, your little one will work on raising their head, which is good exercise to build neck, shoulder, and back muscles and core strength. An added benefit is that it can help keep a flat spot from developing on the back of their head as well.
You can start tummy time as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital in three- to five-minute sessions three times a day. But for your five month old, you can increase the duration to 60-90 minutes per day.
Just be sure your baby is awake and someone is always with them. They should be supervised at all times because it’s not safe for your precious little one to fall asleep on their tummy.
What If Your Baby Doesn’t Achieve Their 5-Month-Old Milestones?
The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 children are born with a developmental delay or disability. If a child has a developmental issue, it can affect school attendance and performance, as well as health and wellness outcomes for years to come.
This may not be the case for your little one, but it’s important to be aware of the possibility. Here are some things you can do.
Know The Warning Signs
If your five month old doesn’t have strong head and neck control, isn’t smiling, grasping objects with their hands, tracking movement with their eyes, responding to sounds, holding their own weight up on their forearms, and babbling, you may need to seek help.
This is also true if, at any point in their development, your child loses skills that they once had.
As a parent, you always want to know how to help your child. Here are some tips for developmental concerns:
- Keep a manual or digital record of your baby’s behavior. This will make it easier to remember the things you need to bring up at their next doctor’s appointment.
- See a pediatrician regularly and bring any concerns about your child to their attention.
- Ask to be referred for a developmental screening. These are more in-depth tests administered by a specialist.
- Check to see if your state has an early intervention program.
- Educate yourself. The American Academy of Pediatrics is a good place to learn more about developmental disabilities. The Mayo Clinic also has free resources available.
Talk To Your Baby’s Pediatrician
If you’re concerned about your baby’s development, it’s always a good idea to talk to their pediatrician for guidance. They can provide you with information and resources to help get your little one taken care of.
Supporting Your Little One’s Growth
You and your baby are doing a great job wherever you are along the developmental journey! Remember, all children develop at different rates, so try not to worry too much. Just keep these 5-month-old milestones in mind and take action if something seems off to you.
Soon, your new little best friend will be saying their first words, crawling, and moving on to new milestones!