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Your baby's growth and development - 5 months old

4-minute read

Your baby will be growing and developing rapidly now. They are learning more about the world and how they fit into it. Many of the new things your baby is learning at 5 months are preparing them for eating solid food. It is usually recommended you introduce solids at 6 months, but some babies are ready as early as 4 months. So, if you think it's time, it's fine to start experimenting with solids now.

Your 5-month-old

By 5 months, your baby's weight may have doubled from their weight at birth. They will put on about 550g a month now and grow about 2cm in length. But all babies are different. As long as they keep growing as expected according to their growth chart, don’t worry too much about weight gain and try not to compare your baby with others.

Babies like routine because it makes them feel secure. But the routine you had when your baby was smaller might not work so well now – you will need to adjust it to suit their age.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make sure your home is child friendly, since your baby will soon be on the move.

What can your baby do?

Your baby will soon be sitting up on their own. Babies tend to straighten their back when held or propped up in a sitting position. They may even be able to sit for a moment without support, but always stay close by and surround them with cushions in case they fall. When they’re on their tummy, they will extend their arms and legs and arch their back. When they’re on their back, they’ll be able to lift their head and shoulders. They will love bouncing up and down on your lap and can often roll from tummy to back and back to tummy with ease.

They will still be exploring everything with their mouth and can bring an object to their mouth easily now. Even though they may be able to hold a bottle by themselves, it is still best for you to feed them. They will probably be taking a great interest in solid food, though breast milk or formula should still be their main diet at 5 months.

Your baby will be learning lots of language skills at the moment. They may repeat something over and over again, like blowing a raspberry. This is very normal. They can also recognise different sounds and what makes them. This is great for distraction – try jangling a set of keys to grab your baby’s attention if they’re getting fussy at the shops.

At 5 months, babies get good at telling you what they need. For example, they may lift their arms above their head to let you know they want to be picked up, or they may cry when you leave the room. They can laugh and giggle, cuddle and kiss you, and are great fun to play around with. They are also learning about cause and effect – they may keep dropping an object for you to pick up, which they’ll find very funny.

How to help your baby develop

Talk and listen to your baby. Use different tones and facial expressions and respond to the sounds they make. This helps them learn how conversation works and how to express their feelings.

Play with your baby as much as possible, by reading books, singing, tummy time, making funny sounds and giving them toys. Sometimes they may be too tired or hungry to play, but by now you can probably pick up on your baby’s cues so make sure you give them what they need.

Development problem signs

Babies develop at a different rate. At 5 months, talk to your doctor or maternal child health nurse if they:

  • don’t seem interested in things around them
  • don’t seem to know you
  • aren’t making any voice sounds
  • don’t open their fingers
  • don’t kick their legs, or their legs are bent most of the time
  • don’t follow an object with their eyes or make eye contact
  • don’t turn when you speak to them, or they aren’t startled by a loud noise
  • are unhappy or unsettled most of the time

Where to seek help

If you are worried or would like to discuss any issues with your baby’s development, speak to your doctor, maternal child health nurse, or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2020


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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

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