Your Baby Week Twenty Two (Five Months)

Comparing Babies

Child with toddler brother
Children, including siblings, often do things such as sitting up, talking, and walking, at different ages, so it is important not to worry and compare their development. Vladimir Dmitriev

Is your baby growing and developing normally?

Despite reassurances from your pediatrician, you may sometimes feel like your baby is behind other babies if you try to compare him to every other baby you see.

For example, at four months, some babies are able to roll over and pull up to a sitting position, while others are just beginning to sit up with support and hold their head steady. And viewing the growth charts, you can see that the normal range for a four-month-old can be anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds.

Although all likely normal, babies with such large differences in their growth or development are not going to seem like they are the same age though if you put them next to each other.

That makes it important to try and not compare your baby's growth and development to that of other children. Of course, if you think that your child is not growing and developing normally, be sure to talk with your pediatrician.

Also be aware of the big ranges for when infants pick up the next big developmental milestones, such as:

  • talking in single syllables at 5 to 8 months
  • sitting up without support at 5 1/2 to 7 months
  • saying mama and dada at 6 to 9 months
  • picking up objects with a thumb and finger pincer grasp at 7 to 10 months
  • waving bye-bye at 7 to 14 months
  • saying mama and dada as specific words for their mother and father at 7 to 13 months
  • pulling up to a standing position at 8 to 10 months
  • standing alone at 10 to 14 months
  • walking at 11 to 15 months

Homemade Baby Food

Chicken and potato puree passed through baby food grinder and in bowl with spoon, woman in backgroun
Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Although many parents choose to feed their baby commercially prepared baby food, including brands such as Gerber, Beech Nut, Earth's Best, and Heinz, some choose to make their own baby food.

Why make your own baby food?

Proponents of homemade baby food usually cite the main benefits as being cost savings, avoiding food additives and preservatives, and avoiding added ​salt and sugar.

In reality, most commercially prepared baby foods do not have artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, added salt, or added sugar. For example, Gerber Pears contain:

  • pears
  • pears from concentrate (water, pear concentrate)
  • ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • citric acid (a natural preservative found in citrus fruits)

Other baby foods, such as Earth's Best Organic First Peas, only contain organic peas and water.

Checking the baby food label and ingredients list can help you determine if any extra additives or preservatives are in the baby food you are buying.

Homemade Baby Food

But even if commercial baby food doesn't include additives or preservatives, that doesn't mean that you still can't make your own homemade baby food. Although some extra time is involved as opposed to the convenience of commercial baby food, many parents enjoy making their own baby food.

In addition to the cost savings, making homemade baby food allows you greater control over the texture of the baby food, which can be helpful for some infants. For example, if your baby quickly masters eating pureed baby food, then you can start to make it thicker, instead of having to figure out which commercial baby food to use as your next stage or step.

Do avoid making homemade baby food with beets, carrots, collard greens, spinach, and turnips. These vegetables can sometimes have high levels of nitrates, a chemical that can cause low blood counts (anemia).

Acid Reflux Redux

If your baby still spits up a lot, a burp rag can be helpful to protect your clothes and furniture.
If your baby still has reflux and spits up a lot, a burp rag or towel can be helpful to protect your clothes and furniture, especially right after your baby eats. Gabor Izso

As many parents have realized by now, it is common for babies to spit up.

Those parents who have been expecting their baby's spitting up to have gone away by the time he is four to five months old are often disappointed. Reflux often doesn't stop until a baby is six to nine months old. And unfortunately, some babies continue to spit up until they are 12 to 24 months old.

Reflux symptoms do peak by about four months, though, so it is likely that the worst of your baby's reflux problems are behind him. In fact, you may be able to talk to your pediatrician about stopping any reflux medications that your baby has been taking now if he is no longer having reflux symptoms.

For those who are still having problems with reflux, standard reflux treatments may need to be continued, including:

  • lifestyle changes, such as changing the position that you hold your baby after feedings, elevating the head of your baby's crib about 30 degrees, using a tucker sling and and wedge, and frequently burping your baby
  • continuing to breastfeed if you are breastfeeding
  • thickening your baby's formula if you are not breastfeeding
  • taking an acid reflux medication, such as Zantac or Prevacid

Infant Care Tips - Fever

Baby getting temperature taking under the arm
An axillary or under-the-arm thermometer is likely the least accurate way to take a baby's temperature when you are worried about a fever. Fred Goldstein

Among all of the symptoms that their kids may have, such as a cough, sore throat, or vomiting, fever seems to be the one that parents often seem to worry about the most.

Taking a Temperature

One of the first things to consider about fever is whether or not your child even has a fever. Since simply feeling your baby's forehead to see if it is hot isn't a very accurate way to check for a fever, a mercury-free thermometer can be helpful.

At four or five months, temporal thermometers, which you simply scan across your child's forehead, and ear thermometers are becoming very popular among parents because they are fast and easy to use. You could also use digital rectal thermometers, which are very accurate, but are not used as often now that your baby is over three months of age. Keep in mind that oral thermometers are also not usually used at this age because they must usually be held in the mouth for at least a minute or so, which can be difficult at this age.

High Fever

In general, a fever may be considered "high" and you should call your pediatrician if your child has a temperature at or above:

  • 100.4 F and he is under three months old
  • 101 F and he is between three and six months old
  • 103 F and he is over six months old

In most cases, though, your decision to call your pediatrician will also depend on what other symptoms your child has, such as fussiness, difficulty breathing, or not eating.

Fever Treatments

Treatments to relieve a fever depend on your child's age, and can include:

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Motrin (ibuprofen) if your infant is at least six months old

Additional treatments may depend on what is causing the fever, such as whether your infant has an ear infection.

Never give your child aspirin because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a cold bath (a lukewarm one is better), or alcohol rubs.

Infant Q&A - Still a Preemie?

Woman holding hand of a premature baby
This 28-week premature baby will have an adjusted age of just one month when he is four months old, which is one month after his due date. Christian Michael

My baby was born at 32 weeks. Now that he is almost five months old, is she still considered to be a preemie?

Pediatricians often use a corrected or adjusted age, in which you subtract the number of weeks a baby was born premature from their chronological or real age when describing a preemies growth and development. For example, while your baby is chronologically five months old now, her adjusted age is still just three months, since she was born about two months premature.

How long do you use the adjusted age?

You usually use the adjusted age for your premature baby until your baby has caught up in her growth and development or until she turns two years old. So if your five-month-old is sitting up with support, rolling over, and is growing well on the growth charts, then she may have already have caught up to the development of term babies and you may not need to use an adjusted age anymore. On the other hand, if she is just starting to hold her head up, doesn't yet pick up her chest when she is on her tummy and isn't smiling spontaneously yet, then she is still at a two- or three-month developmental level and you would still use an adjusted age.

Things that you would use the adjusted age for include when to:

  • start solid foods
  • expect your child to meet developmental milestones, such as rolling over, standing, and walking
  • expect her to sleep through the night

For example, a baby with a real age of four months who was born at twenty-age weeks now has an adjusted age of just one month. Therefore, you wouldn't expect him to sleep through the night or be ready for cereal anytime soon. Instead, he may be doing things a newborn baby would do, including his sleeping and feeding schedule.

In general, visits to your pediatrician and immunizations follow your baby's real or chronological age – not her adjusted age.

Safety Alert - Baby Walkers

Baby in a walker
A mobile baby walker, unless your baby is well supervised and you take a lot of precautions, can be a big safety hazard. Vincent Iannelli, MD

Although some parents begin to use mobile baby walkers once their baby is four to five months old, many experts think that they are too dangerous to be used routinely.

In addition to falls down stairs and falls out of their walker, many infants are injured each year as their mobile baby walker makes them a little too mobile and able to get to things that would otherwise be out of reach, even if you have started childproofing your home.

In fact, the number of injuries from baby walkers has led the Canadian government to ban the "sale, advertisement and importation of baby walkers in Canada."

Although they haven't been successful, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the U.S. government to do the same. Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been promoting new safety standards for baby walkers that can lead to fewer injuries, especially from falls.

If using a mobile babywalker, parents should follow the Consumer Product Safety recommendations and:

  • close the door or gate at the top of the stairs
  • keep children within view
  • keep children away from hot surfaces and containers
  • beware of dangling appliance cords
  • keep children away from toilets, swimming pools and other sources of water

And since 75% of injuries are related to falls down stairs, in addition to the above recommendations, don't use a baby walker near stairs, even if you have a gate on the stairs.

Baby Walker Alternatives

Since they can be dangerous and they won't help your baby walk any sooner, you might seek out an alternative to a baby walker, such as a stationary activity center.

View Article Sources
  • AAP Fact Sheet - Baby Walkers are Dangerous!
  • Behrman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 17th ed.
  • Health Canada Consumer Products Safety - Baby Walkers (Banned) & Stationary Activity Centres.