Look who’s in on the joke! At 5 months, your little love’s personality is really beginning to shine. They are eagerly taking cues from you, whether it’s laughing when you’re laughing, mimicking language, or settling down when you start singing a favorite lullaby.  

This is also the time when you can really appreciate that we’re all unique beings…from the very beginning! Just as our personalities vary, babies have their own definite traits of personality, or temperament. Some are easygoing little surfer dudes: patient, easy to distract, taking a long time to get frustrated. Others are passionate: strong-willed, opinionated, risk-takers, prone to happy—and sad—emotional eruptions. And a few are shy, slow to warm up, hesitant about new tastes, sounds, or people, and very observant and gentle in their demeanor. And, of course, a fair number of kids just can’t be pigeon-holed into a category.

Understanding your child’s temperament gives you some clues on how to parent (when to push and when to compromise).

5-Month-Old Baby Sleep

One clash of wills you may be experiencing is over whether it’s acceptable to be wide awake at 2 a.m. Some babies are ready to party during these wee hours! About 25% of 5-month-olds can’t (or don’t) sleep six hours in a row. Of course, that’s not so great for a parent’s mood and health…and a good night of sleep is important for an infant’s growth and development, too!

Here are some common reasons that 5-month-olds wake up during the night.

  • Excitement about practicing a new skill (pushing up, sitting up, social jabbering)
  • Discomfort (pain, stuffy nose, hunger)
  • Naps are too long (their days and nights are reversed)
  • They’ve learned the wrong habits (only falling to sleep in your bed, your arms, or after a feeding)  
  • Bedtime timing is off (too early, too late, or too inconsistent)

Feeding Your 5-Month-Old Baby

How much should a 5-month-old baby eat?

If you’re breastfeeding, you and your baby likely have a well-established breastfeeding rhythm by now. Keep watching your baby’s cues to determine when they’re hungry or full. Formula feeding? Your baby is probably taking in 4 to 6 ounces each feeding and eating about 2.5 ounces per pound of body weight. 

Weaning foods for a 5-month old baby:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 6 months before introducing solid foods, but you can start looking for signs of readiness now. Your little one may show signs of readiness between months 4, 5, or 6.

Signs your baby is ready for solids include:

  • Sitting up independently for at least a minute
  • Interest in food
  • Opening mouth when presented with a spoon
  • Closing the mouth over the spoon 
  • Grabbing at food

Once you start introducing solids, ​​begin by offering single-ingredient solids every three days so you can keep an eye on potential food allergies. Here are more tips on introducing solid foods.

Your 5-Month-Old Baby’s Development

Can babies understand words at 5 months? 

Whether your baby is an early bird or a late-riser, almost all 5-month-olds have one thing in common: Recharged from a night of sleep, the morning hours are when they are most alert and happy. They may start to recognize a couple of words, like their name or mama. And, by this point, eyesight has improved dramatically: from 20/400 at birth (so nearsighted they can only see things clearly that are 12 to 18 inches away) to about 20/30 (just a touch nearsighted).

The Waning Days of Immobility

Your baby is certainly busy these days! Rolling, pushing up into cobra position, sitting with assistance, reaching—the list of everything they can do grows each day. The real leap will come in the next few months when your busy babe’s seemingly separate movements come together and your tiny explorer learns to crawl.

Note: This is the best time to take a trip! Your baby is strong and healthy (past the early months of frailty), but your baby is still happy to be carried and stroller-ed everywhere. By 9 to 12 months, most little kids are crawling everywhere, pulling to stand…and they get into a ton more accidents!

Your 5-Month-Old Baby’s Health 

Teething: A Necessary Evil

For parents and babies alike, teething is a long, drawn-out, unhappy process. That’s because, for some babies, the drooling and throbbing that can go along with teething can last many months as their sharp little teeth push through the gums and make their debuts month after month.

  • Teething symptoms include red, tender gums, fussiness, increased waking, biting, runny nose, and sometimes ear pulling. 

  • Teething may not be a big bother throughout the day, but throbbing increases when the baby is laid down to sleep. Needless to say, this can throw a wrench in your baby’s sleep routine and cause your baby to have trouble falling asleep or to wake up more frequently during the night.

What can you do to help your little bean get through this period?

  • Teething toys help (wood, silicone, etc).

  • Cold teething rings can help, too. (One home remedy is dipping the corner of a washcloth in apple juice and freezing it. Your little one can chew away the pain!)

  • Make sure you are using white noise. It won’t make pain go away, but discomfort always feels worse when you are in a totally silent room.

  • If you’re still using SNOO, you can elevate the head of the bed 1”. That will help reduce the swelling a bit. (Just like a little head elevation helps relive a stuffy nose.)

  • You can also ask your doctor about giving a little ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) shortly before bedtime, but know that ibuprofen generally isn't recommended for babies before 6 months, regardless of weight. (Always check with your pediatrician before giving ibuprofen to a child under 2 years old.)

 < Your 4-Month-Old Baby | Your 6-Month-Old Baby >

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.