Here’s the good news: by five months of age, babies have usually hit their stride and typically sleep between six and eight hours a night. Of course this isn’t true for all babies — some are still waking up every few hours, and others have been getting long stretches of sleep for a few months (lucky parents!). Keeping in mind that all babies are unique, there are still some steps you can take to encourage a healthy, predictable sleep schedule:
- Ensure your baby goes to sleep at roughly the same time every night. Typically this will be anywhere from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Reduce your baby’s stimulation level about 30 minutes before bed. This includes rocking your baby, turning the lights down lower, and cuddling with him or her to soothe your child before bed. Establishing a predictable routine (bath, book, bed) can help.
- Wake your child at roughly the same time in the morning to maintain sleeping and waking habits.
Sometimes a baby who acts very energetic right before bedtime can actually be an overtired baby. This could be a sign that your baby may need to go to sleep slightly earlier than his or her current bedtime. Back your routine down by about 30 minutes and see if that helps.
Coming Soon: crawling
Is your baby starting to do the locomotion? You may see your baby scooting along the floor on his or her tummy at this age or maybe even rolling around the room. Whatever the moving method, these are typically signs that your baby may be heading toward the crawling phase.
Most babies begin to crawl anywhere from eight to 12 months of age. Until your baby hits this age, you can encourage him or her to build up muscles and coordination needed to crawl successfully by utilizing tummy time. During tummy time, you can also engage your baby by sitting on the floor just slightly out of reach or placing a toy just out of reach. Anything that causes your baby to stretch, scoot, and reach will help him or her develop that important core strength.
Your baby’s developing cognitive abilities
By this age, your baby is starting to develop some advanced cognitive skills — and there’s no doubt it can be very exciting to watch a baby learn new skills and things almost every day. At this age, your baby is starting to understand the difference between inanimate and animate objects. For example, your baby knows that to make an inanimate object move, he or she has to move it. This understanding of cause-and-effect (e.g., “When I push on that car, it moves”) is a very important developmental milestone. Babies at this stage are often fascinated by this discovery, and it’s not uncommon to find them pushing buttons to play songs and moving objects back and forth.
Other milestones at this age can include:
- Understanding object permanence, meaning that a toy isn’t gone just because it’s out of sight. You may also see your baby trying to find objects underneath clothes, blankets, or towels.
- Looking at their reflection in a mirror and showing interest and pleasure.
- Constantly trying to grab things that are out of reach.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, July 2019