Your 5-Month-Old Baby's Milestones & Developments

Babbles, smiles, and rolls, oh my! Your 5-month-old is becoming more active and personable each day. By 5 months, your baby is a certified pro at crying, eating, pooping, and—hopefully—sleeping. They are likely rolling all over the living room and flashing their ever-adorable smile. (Which you likely can't get enough of!) Most importantly, you are beginning to see more of a pattern in your child's behavior.

"[Your child] should settle into routines and patterns of behavior that are more recognizable," explains Samuel Werner, DO, who is board-certified in family medicine. He explains that 5-month-olds love trying out many new activities for the first time, which caregivers can help them repeat as much as possible.

Your growing 5-month-old is making big strides cognitively and verbally, is a big fan of eating (possibly even solid foods!), learning how to sleep for longer stretches, and using those rolling skills to keep you on your toes.

At This Age

  • Development: Your baby is becoming more vocal (babbling, crying), smiling, reaching for objects, holding their head up, and rolling.
  • Sleep: Your 5-month-old should be getting around 10 hours of sleep at night, with two to three naps during the day.
  • Food: Your baby is still drinking formula or breastmilk (around 6-8 ounces, four to five times a day), and might be interested in solid foods.
5-Month-Old Baby
Illustration by Josh Seong, Verywell

5-Month-Old Baby Development

At 5 months, your baby is starting to gain more control over their little body. They are finally making their way out of the newborn stage, and they're anxious to show off their blossoming personality!

By now, your baby should have more than doubled their birth weight. All babies develop differently, but on average, they will likely gain an additional 1 to 1 1/4 pounds and around 1/2 to 1 inch in height this month.

In the earlier months, your baby understood meaning through the tone of your voice, rather than the actual words you were saying. Now, their hearing has improved so much that they can actually pick up on different sounds! They are starting to pay attention to the way words form sentences. Soon enough, they will be able to recognize their own name and respond to words like "no."

Babies can now see several feet farther than they could just a few months ago. They can usually focus without going cross-eyed and can now tell the difference between colors.

Andrea Bennett, OTD, a board-certified occupational therapist with extensive experience supporting families in early intervention, adds that by five months, babies should be following moving items with their eyes, looking attentively at faces, and recognizing familiar people and items from a distance.

At this age, babies develop object permanence, which means they know that an object still exists even if it is hidden. So, when you're playing peek-a-boo, they know you're still there! You can help them master this skill by playing games, such as hiding a ball under a blanket and having them search for it.

Your 5-month-old is also starting to learn cause and effect. They know if they drop food from their highchair, it will hit the ground. (Fun for them, but not so much for you!)

When to Talk to the Pediatrician

While every baby develops at their own pace, the CDC recommends alerting your baby's pediatrician if you notice your child is not reaching for objects, showing affection, bringing hands to their mouth, rolling in either direction or making vowel sounds such as "ah," "eh," and "oh."

The AAP recommends checking with your pediatrician if your baby has crossed eyes, has gained less than 50% of their birth weight, or cannot hold their head up. If your baby is not able to sit up at all with support or can’t bring hands or other items to their mouth, you also need to give their healthcare provider a call.

In addition to the signs above, contact their provider if your baby does not seem to respond to your facial expressions, does not smile, or does not watch items or people as they move. These symptoms could signal a developmental delay or medical problem. You should also tell your pediatrician if your baby's soft spot appears to be bulging, especially if they are particularly sleepy or running a fever.

Your baby will have a well-visit at 6-months-old, which is the perfect time to bring up any worries or concerns you have about their development.

5-Month-Old Baby Milestones

At 5-months-old, some babies may just be starting to hit the following milestones, and some may have already passed them.

Between 5 and 6-months-old, babies really start to ramp up their communication skills. They may not be saying actual words, but it sure is fun to hear them babble! They are making sounds like "goo," "ma-ma-ma" or "bah-bah-bah." They can now vary their cries to express different needs, such as when they are hungry or tired. This is one of the first steps toward one of the most exciting milestones—their first word!

Additionally, babies are typically rolling two different ways: tummy-to-back and back-to-tummy. "You may notice they only ever turn over their right shoulder, or over their left shoulder," explains Dr. Werner. "Once these motions are mutually mastered, watch out! The range they can cover by rolling is quite impressive."

Bennett adds that 5-month-olds start gaining the ability to hold their heads up without support, bear weight on their legs when stood up, push onto their elbows from their tummies, and may even push up into a sitting position when they get closer to the 6-month mark.

If you spend most of the day stopping your 5-month-old from trying to eat random objects, you're not alone. By now, they have mastered the ability to reach for and grab objects, so their new focus is to use both hands to bring those tasty toys straight to the mouth.

"This may be purely fun and simple sensory exploration, or it may be fulfilling a need since some infants can start to have their first tooth around this time," explains Dr. Werner. They may also start to pass objects from one hand to the other.

Additional Behaviors

  • Likes to play with others (especially caregivers)
  • Looks at things nearby
  • Showing interest in solid foods
  • May hold out arms to be picked up
  • Enjoys looking at books with brightly-colored pictures
  • Responds to sounds with their own sounds

5-Month-Old Baby Food

At this age, the focus is still on feeding your baby breastmilk and/or formula. "[You] should aim for about 25-35 ounces per day, which often breaks down to approximately 6-8 ounces, four to five times a day," says. Dr. Werner. He explains that it's normal for babies to have days where they drink more or slightly less than the goal. If it seems like their feeds are consistently different, you should reach out to your pediatrician.

Introducing Solid Foods

At 5-months-old, you may consider introducing solid baby food to your baby or you may continue to wait until your baby shows signs that they are ready. Your little one does not need any nutrition other than breast milk or formula for the first six months of life.

That said, Dr. Warner mentions that 5-months-old is a great time for discovery, but don't be discouraged if your baby doesn't take to it right away. "When introducing options beyond breastmilk and formula, don’t despair if they turn up their nose at the first or even fifth attempt; just bring it back a couple [of] days later," he says. "Similarly, don’t worry if what was exciting and new loses its initial fascination. It is too early to be developing favorites, although you may begin to notice reliable standbys."

Bennett explains that babies also need to learn how to use their tongue and mouth muscles to help the food go down. "From the color and smell to the texture and taste, babies may need time to adjust to all of these sensory changes," she says.

Every baby develops differently and your baby may be ready to give solid food a try this month. The AAP recommends looking for the following signs of readiness in your baby:

  • Able to hold their head up
  • Moves food from a spoon into their mouth
  • Opens their mouth when food is nearby
  • Weighs at least 13 pounds or has doubled their birth weight

When trying solid foods, Dr. Werner suggests introducing one new ingredient at a time. "We do this so that if the infant has an allergic reaction to a food, we can know exactly which ingredient they ingested," he says.

As for the order in which you introduce various solids, Dr. Werner recommends working through all of the green vegetables before starting orange and red vegetables. "The green colors aren’t as sweet, and they may not be as interested in green veggies after they’ve had the others," he says.

You can start making your own baby food. It can be less expensive, and it gives your baby a fresh and nutritious option. However, there are many great baby food choices available to purchase, so if you don’t have the time or resources to make your own, buying food is fine too.

If you decide to make your own homemade baby food, avoid giving your baby too much of food containing beets, carrots, green beans, spinach, and turnips. These vegetables can sometimes have high levels of nitrates, a chemical that can cause low blood counts (anemia) in babies under 6 months old.

5-Month-Old Baby Sleep

At this stage, babies are still sleeping more than they are awake. "Infants at this age will need around 10 hours (plus or minus two) at night, with another four-plus hours via naps during the day, split across two to three naps," says Dr. Werner. "We continue to recommend they should still be placed on their backs to sleep and there should be nothing else in the crib with them, whether a blanket, toy, or bottle."

Some babies are more natural “catnappers” and others will need a longer stretch. By 5 to 6 months old, many babies start sleeping through the night, which means they stay asleep for eight to nine hours.

Dr. Werner adds, "Those blessed evenings when they ‘sleep through the night’ are in fact littered with intermittent wakings, which are completely normal." He explains that if they are not hungry or need a diaper change, a "good" sleeper at 5-months-old will be able to fall back asleep without parental intervention. 

Sleep Training

When it comes to sleep training at 5-months-old, experts have mixed recommendations. "The literature is fairly split on sleep training, and a lot comes back to culture, so it should be a family decision," says Dr. Werner.

That said, by 5 months, babies are typically able to learn how to self-soothe, and they might not require any more night feedings. When choosing whether or not to sleep train, it ultimately comes down to your baby's specific needs. Some babies do great at this age, while others might do better starting around six months or later. Of course, your pediatrician can provide the best advice for you and your child.

5-Month-Old Baby Schedule

Depending on when your baby goes to bed (and how well they sleep), you're likely starting your day bright and early. After breakfast and playtime, your little one will be ready for their first nap, followed by lunch, more playtime, and their second nap. At this age, they may still be taking three naps, with the third being the shortest of the day.

During playtime, your baby is still exploring being on their tummy, so be sure to find some fun, interactive tummy-time toys! For 5-month-olds, Bennett also recommends these playtime activities:

  • Books and items with various textures
  • Toys that light up and play music
  • Hanging toys and rattles
  • Lying on the floor with them to play

She also recommends helping them sit up and play in a seated position. "The milestone for sitting up is around the corner, and it’s a good time to practice with your support," she says.

5-Month-Old Baby Health and Safety

If you missed your baby's 4-month-old well visit, you can still schedule it! It's imperative to stick with regular check-ups to ensure your child is on track with their development. They will have another well-visit at 6-months-old, where they will receive their third doses of the DTaP, Hib, Polio, Pneumococcal, and Rotavirus immunizations.

Fever

If your child starts running a fever of 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should call your pediatrician. If it is lower than that, medicine is typically not needed unless they are uncomfortable. You should always ask your pediatrician before giving your child Tylenol, and they should never be given aspirin due to the risk of Reyes syndrome.

When evaluating a fever in a 5-month-old, consider what symptoms your baby has and what the cause of the fever is. Most of the time, fevers are simply a sign your baby's immune system is working properly.

Choking and Injury Hazards

Since 5-month-olds love bringing objects to their mouths, anything they pick up is fair game. "It becomes especially important to ensure there are no choking hazards they can get their hands on," cautions Dr. Werner. You shouldn't leave small objects within their reach even for a moment—babies can be quick! You should also never give your 5-month-old large chunks of food, including raw carrots, apples, hot dogs, grapes, peanuts, and popcorn.

Even though they are several months away from crawling, Dr. Werner recommends starting to baby-proof your home now. "The mobility offered by flipping from back-to-front and front-to-back should not be underestimated," he says. You may want to start removing any objects that they could potentially knock over or run into, along with covering any electrical outlets.

Car Seat Safety

Dr. Werner suggests you review your car seat safety manual, watch a video on the specific model, or ask for assistance with installing it if needed (a hospital, fire department, or other experts). The AAP recommends that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Usually, this is around 2-years-old, or much longer with the proper car seat. Your 3, 4, or even 5-year-old can stay rear-facing!

5-Month-Old Baby Baby Care Basics

Your 5-month-old is growing like a weed and soaking in everything around them. It's an exciting time! There are certain things you can do to help with their development.

Diapers

To ensure your 5-month-old is getting enough food, pay attention to their diapers. Babies should have at least five to six wet diapers a day and at least two dirty diapers a day. That said, the frequency of poopy diapers depends on whether they are breastfed or formula-fed.

Some breastfed babies may poop after every feeding, while others may only go once a week. The stool should be soft and easy to pass—otherwise, it could be constipation. If you have any concerns, always reach out to your child's pediatrician.

Bedtime Routine

If you haven't yet started a bedtime routine, now is a great time to do so. Try not to allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle or at the breast. They should be placed in the crib drowsy but awake to help them learn how to fall asleep on their own.

Before bedtime, you can give your baby a massage, sing a song or two, read a book, or give them a warm bath (the AAP recommends three baths per week for the first year). A bedtime routine creates a helpful routine for your baby and is a great way to get them relaxed and ready to snooze.

Daycare

If your little one attends daycare, you may soon encounter the question that every parent will face at some time or another: Is your baby too sick for baby care?

Answering that question is never an easy one, and it’s especially difficult depending on your workplace environment. Your job may not be supportive of parents or your payment may be docked if you have to stay home with a sick baby. If you have a partner, an ill baby might bring up some challenging conversations about who stays home and who goes to work. 

In general, your baby should stay home from daycare if they have a fever with or without a rash; are fussy and irritable; have a constant cough or difficulty breathing; or have an infection causing vomiting two or more times in 24 hours.

Bloody diarrhea or diarrhea that is leaking out of the diaper also means that they'll need to stay home, as does any specific illness that is known to be contagious. These include strep throat, whooping cough, hepatitis A, E. coli, salmonella, shigella, tuberculosis, influenza, and COVID-19. Keep your baby home until they are no longer contagious.

Your child should also stay home from daycare if they have any of the following conditions:

  • Chickenpox until six days after the rash started or until the rash is all crusted over
  • Head lice or scabies, until after the first treatment has been applied
  • Pink eye with discharge, impetigo, or strep throat (unless they have been treated with antibiotics for 24 hours)

Your child does not usually have to stay home from daycare if they have a simple cold without a fever—even if they have a cough and green or yellow runny nose. That is good news for most parents, since cold symptoms commonly last 10 to 14 days and the average child can get up to 10 colds a year.

What Else to Know About Your 5-Month-Old Baby

As you prepare for your baby’s half-birthday, spend some quality time together in the mornings. It's often the time of day when your baby is the most active, awake, and happy. If you can, make the most of your mornings together by bringing out some special toys. You can also just enjoy talking to each other before you head into your daily routine.

Your baby will learn about the world around them from the ground up, which means you should join them at their level—literally. Plop down on the floor with them, encourage them to roll over or try new skills, or just blow raspberries on your baby’s tummy and relish those baby giggles.

At 5 months old, your baby is like a sponge, absorbing all kinds of information about the world from the environment around them. The groundwork for language begins this month, so along with talking and reading to your baby, play music in your home. There’s no need to make it all “baby” music either. Anything with a beat is good to go!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does a 5-month-old baby do?

    At 5-months-old, babies are starting to roll, push up from their tummy onto their elbows, babble, and bring objects to their mouths. They are becoming more sociable and can recognize familiar faces and respond to emotions.

  • What can a 5-month-old baby eat?

    A 5-month-old should still be given breastmilk and/or formula as the primary food source. They should be eating 6-8 ounces, four to five times a day. Solid foods can start to be introduced, but not all babies will be interested.

  • Can a 5-month-old baby eat food?

    The 5-month-old mark is more of a discovery phase for food. Solids may be introduced one different ingredient at a time in order to pinpoint the cause of a potential allergic reaction. Not all babies will take to solid foods at this age, and if they do, breastmilk and/or formula should still be their main source of food.

  • Can I give my 5-month-old water?

    It is typically recommended that any baby under 6-months-old should not be given water as to not interfere with their intake of breastmilk and/or formula.

  • How much does a 5-month-old weigh?

    While every baby is different, 5-month-olds, on average, have doubled their birthweight.

  • What do 5-month-old babies play with?

    At 5-months-old, babies are mostly playing on their tummies. They can benefit from interactive toys that play music or have lights, books with bright colors, rattles they can shake, mirrors to look at, or toys with various textures for them to explore.

A Word From Verywell

You're quickly approaching your baby's half birthday, and it's an exciting time to see them take such big strides! Their little brain is hard at work figuring out the things around them. Whether they are rolling across the living room carpet or having a full-on babble conversation with themselves in the mirror, your 5-month-old is a complete joy to be around. Take pictures, savor every smile and giggle, and relish in the amazing ways your baby is growing!

Originally written by
Chaunie Brusie, RN
Chaunie Brusie, RN
Chaunie Brusie is a registered nurse with experience in long-term, critical care, and obstetrical and pediatric nursing.
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