What an enjoyable time this is with your baby! He is usually happy and outgoing, and loves to look at new faces. His sense of humor is beginning to develop. This month he will probably laugh out loud as he is beginning to “get the joke.” He will enjoy funny expressions and may try to make you laugh.
What Your Baby is Learning
Your baby is in motion.
He wants to move to reach things that interest him. He may pivot on his stomach or kick with his feet and “swim” with his arms or even push himself backwards with his arms.
He may still be working to roll over purposefully. Until now, most of his turning from stomach to back or back to stomach has happened because he just happened to get in a position for it. Now he may be figuring out how to do it when he wants to.
His back is stronger and straighter.
He enjoys sitting on your lap and needs less and less support. He will begin to sit alone briefly, but will still need to be propped up most of the time.
His hands are developing skill too.
Now he will begin to grasp objects using his thumb and fingers like they were in mittens, thumb opposing all his fingers together. He is learning to take a toy with only one hand instead of using both arms and hands together. He is still not accurate, but continues to try until he gets what he wants. He immediately brings whatever he has grasped to his mouth.
He may be able to hold his own bottle now, but never prop a bottle and leave your baby by himself. Feeding should be a social time or relaxing time with your baby.
Your baby turns toward new sounds. He loves a variety of sounds and will look to see how the sounds is made. He is starting to associate sounds with what he sees and feels.
His “talk” includes a great variety of hisses and throat clicks as well as oohs and aahs. He is building memories of what happens when he makes sounds with his voice. He feels the movement of his lips, tongue, jaws, and vocal cords and he hears the resulting sounds. He is building his memory bank.
Your baby recognizes his own name and turns to see who called his name. He can show a range of emotions now including angry, bored, happy, and love. He will begin to raise his arms to show he wants you to pick him up and cry when he doesn’t want you to leave the room. He may begin to give hugs and kisses. He loves to play peek-a-boo and laughs at funny faces.
Your baby stares at faces, particularly new faces. He is seeing variations between the new face and the faces of his parents and caregivers. He is seeing if the new face conforms to the pattern he has stored. Each new face confirms his concept of faces. This is the beginning of his learning by the principle of theme and variation. After he is sure the new face fits into his concept of a face, he usually smiles.
Following on the heels of recognizing new faces comes stranger anxiety. He may start to get clingy and anxious around people other than his parents and frequent caregivers. He may cry and turn away if a stranger approaches suddenly. This is also an important step in his development, so just be patient and reassuring to him. Hold him securely and help him calm down when he is frightened. Don’t avoid new people, just ask them to approach him slowly and not to make sudden movements or loud noises until he is ready to go to them.
Ways You Can Help
Babies learn about their world through touch. They learn the idea of same and different through their sense of touch. Help your baby experience a wide variety of interesting “feels.” Before your baby’s bath, place him on his stomach without clothing. With a gentle but firm stroke rub his back, arms and legs. Pat and tap him gently all over with your fingertips. After his bath, rub him dry with a soft towel. Kiss his head and hands and feet. Play with his toes.
If your baby is very ticklish, begin rubbing him with his own hands and gradually begin using your own. Remember that light touches are more tickling than firmer touches. He will learn to trust you not to tickle him over time.
If your baby does not turn to look when someone talks from about 5-6 feet away or does not look toward loud, unexpected or unfamiliar noises, it is time to have his hearing checked. If he was a premature baby, he may just need some more time for hearing to develop, but most babies by this age are able to let you know they are hearing well. Babies with hearing impairment need special help to develop normal speech and the ability to learn normally. And the earlier this help begins, the better his speech will be later on.
The music of our speech is important for understanding what is said. At 5 months, your baby is responding more to the rhythm and melody of your voice than to your words. Talk much to your baby. Read to him some every day.
When you hold an object out for your baby to see, he will reach for it. You may also note that he opens and closes his mouth in anticipation of putting the object in his mouth as soon as he can grasp it and pull it towards himself. This is a normal step in learning. It will not develop bad habits or make him a thumb or finger sucker. It is his way of interacting with and learning from the objects around him. Don’t try to stop this behavior. It will dwindle away on its own as he begins to eat solid foods.
Safety- Prepare for a mobile baby
You may have already prepared for your baby’s growing mobility. But this would be a good time to take another look at safety.
One of these days your baby is going to roll over suddenly or start rocking and push himself forward or backwards farther than you could imagine possible. Don’t wait until he has fallen from a bed or changing table to begin securing him. Don’t leave him unattended on a changing table, bed, bouncy chair or high chair. Always use safety straps when there is danger he could move and fall.
Never, ever leave your baby unattended in a bathtub, even for a second.
When your baby can get up on his hands and knees, remove mobiles and hanging toys from his crib. When he can pull up, put the mattress in its lowest position and always keep the drop side of his crib up and locked when you are not in the room.
Your home is your baby’s world to explore. Lie down on the floor and see how your house looks from your baby’s point of view. Anything baby can see he will want to explore, so if there is anything you don’t want him to handle, now would be a good time to find a safer place for it. Put away anything that baby could hurt by banging it against something else or anything that could hurt baby if he touches it.
Then put within his reach all kinds of interesting things for him to explore. Make a low drawer or cabinet a place for things you would like him to mouth, bang or play with like pots, plastic bowls, wooden spoons, and so on.
What to Expect Next
- He will start transferring toys from one hand to the other.
- He will make more noise by banging objects together.
- He will try to imitate sounds others make.
Care for your marriage
You passed the first adjustment phase of having a new baby and are settling into a routine. Your baby is sleeping longer hours and you know better what your baby needs when he cries.
You also are realizing that life will never be the same with a baby as it was before he came. Jumping in the car and visiting friends at nine o’clock at night just doesn’t work any more. Sleeping-in in the morning also doesn’t happen, unless your spouse takes over the morning routine with your baby.
The clash between the fairy tale notions of a perfect family and reality can be causing you real distress. When the baby cries and you cannot settle him or when you are tired and edgy, tempers may flare. Having your baby in your room or just down the hall, ready to wail at the least opportune moments, makes intimate moments challenging.
This is a good time to take a deep breath and plan some time to reconnect with your spouse.
Consider dinner out without your baby. Grandparents or close friends may be delighted with a little special time alone with your baby. And you will be able to put more than a couple sentences together without worrying when baby will demand attention. Make it a time to enjoy each other, not a time for airing grievances.
If you can’t go out, you may need to be more creative and time it right to have an hour or so alone. Make a date so that you are both ready to enjoy each other and not so tired you just want to sleep.
As much as it feels like your life will always revolve around a squalling infant, this time will pass. Your child will grow up before you know it. If you don’t take care of your marriage now, what will you have when your child grows up and goes away? Don’t let a day pass without finding a way to let your spouse know how important they are to you and demonstrating your love by doing what helps.
One language or two?
If more than one language is spoken in your home, this is a good time to consider what language you want to be your child’s first language. Children who are exposed to two or more languages before they have proficiency in one language may have delayed language development. If you want your child to meet all the developmental guidelines for language, you should only speak and teach one language to your baby until he is around two years of age.
If, however, it is inconvenient to limit your child’s exposure to more than one language or you prefer to teach more than one language from infancy, don’t despair. Your child may be later in reaching the developmental guidelines for language, but when he reaches them they will be in more than one language. Languages spoken during the first five years of life will be spoken with little or no accent later in life, even if the second language is not spoken for years.
Heavenly Father, as our baby is becoming more mobile, we recognize dangers around him in a new way. Show us how we should protect him and help us to trust you to protect him when we cannot. We are thankful you promised to always be with us. Be with our precious child. In Jesus’ name, Amen