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The First Year: 5 Month Milestones

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Updated on May 25, 2012

Your 5 month old baby probably seems part comedian, part fire alarm, and part monkey by now. Her changing moods mean you need to learn to roll with the punches—er, tantrums. She's learning to express her emotions, but for every wailing session, there's times where she keeps you laughing, using silly faces, giggles, and new skills she learns every day. Keep on top of what's normal for your developing baby and you'll know what to expect out of your 5-month-old. It doesn't mean you can stop sudden mood swings, but you'll at least know how to deal with your darling diva.

Rolling Over. Your little one should easily be rolling over by now. Rolling over almost always starts with your baby flipping from her belly onto her back, and then progresses to rolling from back to front. Now that she's mastered the skill, she might even using her rolling abilities to move her closer to stuff she wants, like toys or interesting objects.

  • Keep a sharp eye when your suddenly mobile tot is rolling around. While a blanket on the floor used to suffice, you might need to put up stair gates and other barriers to stop your little one from rolling into danger. Make sure you're always nearby to supervise. You might also want to get down on the floor to see what's eye level with your babe—electrical sockets, dust bunnies, and other hazards are interesting to infants, but can be serious dangers—or just plain gross.
  • Exercise your baby. No, you don't need to take her to the gym; by placing a toy just out of her reach while she's laying on her belly, you encourage her to scoot, roll, and work her muscles to get there.
  • Talk to your doctor if your baby doesn't show any interest in rolling, or her muscles seem slack and undeveloped. This can be a warning sign of developmental delays or medical issues.

Emotional Rollercoaster. Your babe learns to follow in the footsteps of Madonna to "express herself" a little more each day. You'll run the gamut from giggles and smiles to shrieks and screams in a matter of minutes; and it's all totally normal. Since your child can't talk yet, she'll use her emotions to tell you what she wants—for better or for worse.

  • Respond quickly to verbal cues. While you might want to take a hard stance on grocery store tantrums, your infant is still way too young for any type of discipline. Offer tons of reassurance in the form of cuddles and kisses as you try to find the reason for your baby's emotional outburst.

Works With her Hands. Your little one might show a talent for working with her hands as she explores. Before, when you handed over a toy, she probably grasped it but didn't do much else. Now, she can turn items over, bring them to her mouth, and even push buttons as she interacts with toys and other stimuli.

  • Offer plenty of reasons to get your baby to reach. Hand over different toys with different textures; blankets, rattles, safe kitchen utensils, and even small, soft dolls can all help your baby use her hands to explore. Just be wary of anything with small parts that could come off—your baby explores with her mouth, which could mean choking hazards if you're not careful.
  • Watch for signs of a delay, such as a lack of hand usage. Pediatric movement specialist Michelle Turner notes, "When an infant wants to be picked up and their hands raise up to meet you, this is extension." She points out that babies with delays are different: "They slouch and are very 'heavy' to pick up. These are small warning signs that the skeletal system is not doing it's proper job." Talk to your doc if you have any concerns.
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