Your baby: 5 months old

Starting solids, birth control tips and reading with your baby. Learn all about life with your 5-month-old.

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Originally published on Oct. 20, 2011. 

Is your baby spoiled?
Can you spoil a baby? In a word, no — despite all you may have heard to the contrary. Now that your baby is no longer a newborn, some of your relatives, friends, and acquaintances may suggest that you’re “spoiling” her by “giving in” and picking her up whenever she cries. They may say that you’re fostering a clingy and dependent child.

That’s just not the case. By responding to your baby’s cries, you are tending to her needs and this helps make her feel secure. In fact, research studies show that babies who have responsive parents turn out to be more independent than those who have restrained parents.

… but you can set some limits
Of course, you won’t damage your baby emotionally if you don’t drop everything the second she starts to cry. You’ll probably find she can wait a few minutes as you extricate yourself from a phone call or activity.

Read more: Old advice you can ignore>

Tips from the trenches
“Most babies are not the perfect sleepers we’ve been groomed to expect. Don’t be shocked when yours isn’t either.” — Emily, mom of three

Read more: Breastfeeding and caffeine consumption>

Ready, set, start solids?
Swipe! Your baby scoops some food off your plate and, before you know it, it’s headed straight for her mouth. If that’s the scene around your dinner table these days, your baby may be ready to start eating solid foods. Experts recommend that babies begin to eat solids at six months of age. As always, babies are unique, so pay attention to her cues. Check out our guide to finding out if your baby is ready for solids and the latest on food allergies.

Read more: Essential tips for do-it-yourself baby food>

Are you ready for another baby?
If not, you may be trying to figure out a longer-term plan for birth control. You may find your pre-baby method doesn’t quite suit you any more. For example, if you’re breastfeeding, you might prefer a different method from the Pill (though the “mini-pill” is considered safe). And if you’re having some vaginal dryness, you may need to add a lubricant or spermicide cream to your regular condoms. We’ve done the research on your best options.

Read more: Secondary infertility>

Good Question! When should I introduce books to my baby?
Now! Chances are your baby will enjoy looking at books that have bright simple drawings. Since “reading” books is a sensory experience at this age, make sure the books you choose are sturdy enough to withstand grabbing, pulling, eating and even drools of delight. And don’t feel you have to read the whole story each time you open a book. Instead, you may want to try to engage your baby’s visual interest by pointing out the pictures and talking about them. You’ll both enjoy the close bonding time… even if you never find out what happens in the end.

Read more: 14 must-have first books for babies>

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