Baby Development: Your 5-Month-Old

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 21, 2021
5 month old baby

The fifth month is a time of transitions for your baby. You can expect them to make their first attempts at real speech. They are also gearing up to start crawling, which means you need to be ready for your little one’s new mobility.

This portion of WebMD’s month-by-month guide describes a few of the baby milestones you can expect your child to reach at five months.

Fifth Month Baby Milestones: Motor Skills

Five-month-old babies can sit upright for longer periods of time. Your baby probably still needs to be propped up with a pillow or Boppy, but they may also be able to sit unsupported for a few seconds at a time.

Some 5-month-olds can start rolling over from their back to their tummy. Once your baby does roll over, you may notice them working their legs and rocking. They are getting ready for crawling and scooting, which are just a couple of months away! But remember, when baby is able to roll over, make sure you never leave them on a bed or other high surface where they can accidentally roll off and get injured.

Another thing you’ll notice at five months is that your baby’s grasp is getting stronger. They can pull objects closer and pick them up in the palm of their hand then move them adeptly from one hand to the other. They may even be able to hold a bottle or sippy cup by themselves.

Fifth Month Baby Milestones: Sleep

Most babies sleep through the night by five months, but not all. To encourage your baby to get into a regular nighttime sleep rhythm, establish a bedtime routine. Start with a warm bath, followed by a few minutes of gentle rocking with a song and story, and their eyes are sure to start drooping.

Get into the habit of putting your baby into the crib drowsy, rather than fully asleep. This way, they will learn how to soothe themselves to sleep rather than relying on you.

During the daytime, your baby will still need two naps -- one in the morning and one after lunch. Try not to delay naps until baby is already tired and cranky. Put them into the crib at the first signs of sleepiness.

Fifth Month Baby Milestones: The Senses

Your 5-month-old’s vision is continuing to improve. At this point, babies still don’t have 20/20 vision, but they can see well at different distances and their eyes can focus together without crossing. At five months, your baby’s color perception has sharpened to the point where they can tell the difference between two shades of the same color. But babies at this age still prefer primary colors such as red, blue, and yellow.

Fifth Month Baby Milestones: Communication

Your baby should be babbling away by now, and those babbles might even be starting to sound like real words. Five-month-olds can begin to put consonant and vowel sounds together (such as ''ba-ba''). If you hear a ''ma-ma'' or ''da-da'' in the mix, don’t get too excited. Babies at this age haven’t yet assigned meaning to words. Wait another couple of months and those ''ma-mas'' and ''da-das'' will be directed at you.

At five months, babies are starting to make sense of the sounds they hear, such as a dog barking or a car engine starting. Though they can’t yet understand words, they may turn their head at the sound of their name or a simple command like ''no.''

Tips for Your Baby’s Fifth Month

  • Babies love music. Play all kinds of songs for your 5-month-old, from classical to jazz to pop. They will clap, smile, and maybe even babble along.
  • Give your baby simple, colorful toys like a soft block or rattle to play with. When you hand over each item, name it (''This is a block,'' ''That’s a rattle'') to help teach your baby new words.
  • Consider removing the mobile hanging over your baby’s crib. Once babies can push up onto their hands and knees, they can get caught up in the mobile’s hanging cords.
  • If you haven’t baby-proofed your house by now, make sure you do it soon. Cover all electrical outlets, place household cleaners and other hazardous materials in locked cabinets, and put away all choking hazards. Also be very careful about not leaving steaming mugs of coffee or curling irons on countertops where your baby might pull them down.


Show Sources


Rudolf, M. and Malcolm IL., Pediatrics and Child Health, Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

Sears, W., MD, and Sears, M., The Baby Book, Little, Brown & Company, 2003.

Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician with Children’s Medical Group in Atlanta, and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn.

Joanne Cox, MD, director of the Primary Care Center, and Associate Chief of General Pediatrics, Boston Children's Hospital.

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