What an enjoyable time this is with your baby! She is usually happy and outgoing, and loves to look at new faces. Her sense of humor is beginning to develop. This month she will probably laugh out loud as she is beginning to “get the joke.” She will enjoy funny expressions and may try to make you laugh.
What Your Baby is Learning
Your baby is in motion.
She wants to move to reach things that interest her. She may pivot on her stomach or kick with her feet and “swim” with her arms or even push herself backwards with her arms.
She may still be working to roll over purposefully. Until now, most of her turning from stomach to back or back to stomach has happened because she just happened to get in a position for it. Now she may be figuring out how to do it when she wants to.
Her back is stronger and straighter.
She enjoys sitting on your lap and needs less and less support. She will begin to sit alone briefly, but will still need to be propped up most of the time.
Her hands are developing skill too.
Now she will begin to grasp objects using her thumb and fingers like they were in mittens, thumb opposing all her fingers together. She is learning to take a toy with only one hand instead of using both arms and hands together. She is still not accurate, but continues to try until she gets what she wants. She immediately brings whatever she has grasped to her mouth.
She may be able to hold her own bottle now, but never prop a bottle and leave your baby by herself. Feeding should be a social time or relaxing time with your baby.
Your baby turns toward new sounds. She loves a variety of sounds and will look to see how the sounds is made. She is starting to associate sounds with what she sees and feels.
Her “talk” includes a great variety of hisses and throat clicks as well as oohs and aahs. She is building memories of what happens when she makes sounds with her voice. She feels the movement of her lips, tongue, jaws, and vocal cords and she hears the resulting sounds. She is building her memory bank.
Your baby recognizes her own name and turns to see who called her name. She can show a range of emotions now including angry, bored, happy, and love. She will begin to raise her arms to show she wants you to pick her up and cry when she doesn’t want you to leave the room. She may begin to give hugs and kisses. She loves to play peek-a-boo and laughs at funny faces.
Your baby stares at faces, particularly new faces. She is seeing variations between the new face and the faces of her parents and caregivers. She is seeing if the new face conforms to the pattern she has stored. Each new face confirms her concept of faces. This is the beginning of her learning by the principle of theme and variation. After she is sure the new face fits into her concept of a face, she usually smiles.
Following on the heels of recognizing new faces comes stranger anxiety. She may start to get clingy and anxious around people other than her parents and frequent caregivers. She may cry and turn away if a stranger approaches suddenly. This is also an important step in her development, so just be patient and reassuring to her. Hold her securely and help her calm down when she is frightened. Don’t avoid new people, just ask them to approach her slowly and not to make sudden movements or loud noises until she 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 her on her stomach without clothing. With a gentle but firm stroke rub her back, arms and legs. Pat and tap her gently all over with your fingertips. After her bath, rub her dry with a soft towel. Kiss her head and hands and feet. Play with her toes.
If your baby is very ticklish, begin rubbing her with her own hands and gradually begin using your own. Remember that light touches are more tickling than firmer touches. She will learn to trust you not to tickle her 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 her hearing checked. If she was a premature baby, she 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 her 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 her some every day.
When you hold an object out for your baby to see, she will reach for it. You may also note that she opens and closes her mouth in anticipation of putting the object in her mouth as soon as she can grasp it and pull it towards herself. This is a normal step in learning. It will not develop bad habits or make her a thumb or finger sucker. It is her way of interacting with and learning from the objects around her. Don’t try to stop this behavior. It will dwindle away on its own as she 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 herself forward or backwards farther than you could imagine possible. Don’t wait until she has fallen from a bed or changing table to begin securing her. Don’t leave her unattended on a changing table, bed, bouncy chair or high chair. Always use safety straps when there is danger she could move and fall.
Never, ever leave your baby unattended in a bathtub, even for a second.
When your baby can get up on her hands and knees, remove mobiles and hanging toys from her crib. When she can pull up, put the mattress in its lowest position and always keep the drop side of her 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 she will want to explore, so if there is anything you don’t want her 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 she touches it.
Then put within her reach all kinds of interesting things for her to explore. Make a low drawer or cabinet a place for things you would like her to mouth, bang or play with like pots, plastic bowls, wooden spoons, and so on.
What to Expect Next
- She will start transferring toys from one hand to the other.
- She will make more noise by banging objects together.
- She 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 she cries.
You also are realizing that life will never be the same with a baby as it was before she 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 her 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 she 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 she 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 her in a new way. Show us how we should protect her and help us to trust you to protect her when we cannot. We are thankful you promised to always be with us. Be with our precious child. In Jesus’ name, Amen