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Baby's Fifth Month: A Guide to Development and Milestones

Published on: May 01, 2013

Baby's fifth monthAll about your 5-month-old baby!

Physical development: Your baby may give you a first hug, says Princess Ivana. Babies discover their body parts —tugging on ears is especially satisfying. Your baby may make first attempts at sitting up. Baby may get his first tooth. Baby will have better head control and raise his head well when lying down, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Brain development: Memory and attention span increase, which builds stronger recognition skills. Babies begin to recognize words and try to repeat them through practicing various sounds, says Princess Ivana.

Social development: Your baby is getting pretty good at giving you clear signals on what he wants, using both his burgeoning verbal skills and body language, such as raising both hands when he wants to be picked up. Your baby is likely displaying a sense of humor, too. “No one likes to laugh alone,” Princess Ivana says, so play along and discover your own silly factor.    

Fun fact or milestone: Babies like music and can recognize melodies they’ve heard while in the womb, says Princess Ivana.  According to recent studies, babies who listen to music show better communication skills. Play music as a focused activity. Try a variety of styles. See which songs are your baby’s favorites. Often you will know by the way your baby bounces to the beat or calms and listens when he hears something he likes. Soft music is a great way for baby to wind down for sleep.

What to watch for/common concerns: Talk to your child's doctor if your baby seems very stiff or floppy; can't hold his head steady; can't sit on his own; doesn't respond to noises or smiles; isn't affectionate with those closest to him; or doesn't reach for objects.

One important thing you can do for your baby: Read together every day, naming the objects you see in books and around you, says Dr. Michelle Terry of Seattle Children's Hospital. Also make sure you are providing an enriched environment for your baby with a variety of safe toys. It’s important he has access to objects to help test his developing “theories,” according to, which is powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Make sure that everything you give your baby to play with is unbreakable, lightweight and large enough that he can’t possibly swallow it. If you run out of the usual toys or he loses interest in them, plastic or wooden spoons, unbreakable cups and jar or bowl lids and boxes are endlessly entertaining and inexpensive, according to

More child development milestones:

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