Your baby: 5 months old

Rolling, babbling, grasping and giggling, your 5-month-old can do it all. And if you’re lucky, they’re also getting the hang of that sleeping thing.

Photography by Nicole Duplantis/Clothing provided by babyGap and Joe Fresh

Your baby is on the brink of so many new milestones at five months old, which may mark the dividing line between a baby who is stationary and one who is on the move! Rolling, babbling, grasping and giggling, your five-month-old can do it all. And if you’re lucky, they’re also getting the hang of that sleeping thing.

5-month-old development & milestones 

Starting to talk

While baby has been gabbing for a few months now, it’s now starting to sound almost like talking, with a few two-syllable “words” thrown in for good measure. You may start to hear a “ba-ba” or “da-da” among the babble, but don’t get too excited yet—it’ll still be a few months until baby starts assigning words to people, and these are just the easiest sounds to make at this point.

Tripod sit and rolling both ways

Your baby probably still needs pillows or a Boppy to hold them up in a seated position. Some will have mastered the tripod sit, with one arm planted between their legs to give them something to lean on, and others will have managed to sit up unsupported, but most will still topple over in a moment of distraction. Having learned to roll from their tummy to back, some babies are now flipping the other way, from back to tummy, which opens the door to rolling-baby mobility. Your baby is now at risk of falling off beds and change tables and rolling from one room to another if they are determined enough, which means your full attention is required you’re your baby isn’t strapped in securely. If you’ve been putting off babyproofing, now is the time to get it done.

Playtime and songtime

As your baby’s attention span widens and he begins to grasp the meaning of language, all sorts of games and activities will become way more fun. Peekaboo is a great start because your baby now understands that when you disappear, you are very likely to reappear in a fun way, and they will start to anticipate the “boo” of the pattern. The power of song will also reap great rewards now as your baby begins to identify familiar rhythms that signal parts of their daily routine, like a ride in the car or the start of bedtime. Don’t worry if your voice is the sort that makes dogs howl—baby doesn’t know the difference.

Sleeping through the night

Baby sleeping in crib with stuffed rabbit 6 most popular sleep-training methods explained Getting your baby to sleep through the night can be an elusive and maddeningly out-of-reach goal, made even more infuriating if all the babies in your mom group have reached this milestone. Whether you’re ready to let your baby “cry it out” or convinced that co-sleeping is the answer—or something in between—you’ll find that few topics generate more advice and more division than teaching your baby to sleep on their own and stay asleep until morning. Here are some tips and techniques that have worked for other moms.

Going down to two naps

Your baby’s night-time sleep is consolidating now, and so should their naps, with most kids moving toward two naps a day by the end of the fifth month. The catnaps of the early months will lengthen as babies become more physically active and mentally alert, though some may still need a late-afternoon snooze to tide them over until bedtime. Their increasing alertness and understanding of the world will likely mean an end to on-the-go napping, as your baby can’t settle down amid so much distraction. Here’s an age-by-age guide to naps as you navigate the transition from three naps to two.

Your life after baby

Love/hate relationship with breastfeeding

As your baby starts on solids and relies a little less on nursing, you may start to wonder if you’re nearing the end of your breastfeeding journey. Is it time to move on from the milk-making treadmill of early parenting, or do you still have years of nursing left in you? One mom who had both the best of times and the worst of times reflects on babies and boobs.

Relearning to pee

Woman laughing while on the phone in the street Why French women don’t pee their pants when they laugh and you do Do you pee when you laugh? Spurt a little when you sneeze? Avoid trampolines and jumping jacks like the plague? Postpartum pee accidents may be a fact of life for many women who have given birth, but it doesn’t have to be this way—and the answer may be easier than you think. This brave writer bares it all in the most intimate essay as she relearned how to pee.

Stuff no one tells you

First-food myths

Starting solids doesn’t have to mean puréed pears and rice cereal. Guidelines for first foods have come a long way in recent years, which means that your baby’s early spoonfuls don’t have to be bland and peanuts and other common allergens are no longer to be avoided. Let’s explode a few myths as your baby moves beyond the breast and bottle.  

Child care challenges

If you’re going back to work after 12 or 18 months, you should have started searching for child care by now and be ramping up your efforts if you haven’t secured a spot on a wait list. But while some moms call their preferred daycare as soon as the pregnancy test reads positive, others may still be debating their options, including a nanny, home daycare or the big child care chain down the street. You may also be reassessing your plan to return to work, wondering if extending or shortening your maternity leave is right for you and your baby now that you understand the challenges involved. Before you start touring daycare providers, prepare a list of key questions to ask.

Just for fun

Genius baby-food hack

Looking for ways to warm up frozen purées? Trying to avoid the microwave? Check out this brilliant technique, plus some great tips on making your own baby food and batch-cooking ideas.

Read more:
Your baby: 6 months old
How to hire a nanny

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