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.
Starts Sitting Up. As your baby's head and neck control improves and she gets a little steadier, she may be able to sit up while supported. While she might need the help of your hands or a pillow to help prop her up, yourn child's gaining control over her body and will soon be strong enough to do it herself.
- Place your babe in a sitting position (facing out) when you're holding her. This way, she's able to take in new sights, and she'll be more than happy to have her hands free for exploration. Feel free to use special seats and pillows to prop up your babe, so long as you're supervising.
- Never let your baby sit sans support until you're sure she doesn't need an extra helping hand. If she seems steady, you can still place pillows around her in case she topples; you wouldn't want her to crash onto the floor!
Easily Distracted. In the adult world, being easily distracted could mean serious trouble in your professional and personal life, but for babies, it's a great relief for parents everywhere. Now that your curious kid's older, it's easier for her to be distracted by sights and sounds. When she's in the throes of an inconsolable tantrum, use toys and music to get her to focus on something else.
- Keep an arsenal of distraction gear on hand to make sure that you've always got something to capture her attention. That way, when she fusses, you've prepped with equipment that'll make her stop—at least momentarily.
- Don't distract your little one with solid food just yet. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against starting solids until your baby is at least 6 months old. While popping your baby a fruit puff could help her to calm down, infants who start solids earlier are more likely to have food allergies. Stick to the breast or bottle to calm your crying tot until your pediatrician gives you the go ahead to start solids.
Starts Making Sense. You've probably gotten used to all of that babbling that your baby does while she's playing, but this month, her sounds go from totally random to having more of a purpose. You'll hear short-vowel sounds, like "ba" or "da" and they might even sound like first words. However, it's just how babies start to dabble in language.
- Experiment with gestures and language together. Pediatric speech language pathologist Melisa Brown says, "The infant will begin to respond to gestures, and [her] babbling should be more varied such as 'da da', 'ta ta', 'ga ga', 'ma ma', and begin to wave bye." Tag-team your language with gestures—your babe will love it and might even test it out on her own!
As your little one grows and develops, so do your parenting instincts. Gone are the clueless first weeks of being a new mama—your confidance has grown with your baby's blossoming personality. Sure, developmental changes means your child grows a little more each day, but the more she develops, the better you become at parenting your little one.