Your mini is eager to be on the move—all that tummy time is finally paying off! This month, help your busy 5-month-old ladder up to those big developmental milestones coming around the bend in month 6 (starting solids! Sitting unassisted!) by getting them on a consistent sleeping and eating schedule, with plenty of time for play in between. Here’s what else to know about your baby’s health and growth in month five.
Related: 5-month-old baby milestones
5-month-old baby nutrition
Eating is becoming more efficient for your bub these days, and they’re probably starting to eat a bit more at each feeding, too. Remember that if you’re doing combination feeding, you can space out their formula bottles a bit more than their breast milk sessions—formula takes slightly longer to digest and metabolize than breast milk.
Next month, you’ll be starting solids. Even if baby seems ready to start sampling food now, hold off a bit longer. Their developing digestive system will be better suited by month 6. But if you’re eager to hit the ground running, reading up on baby led weaning principles and when to start purees now can help make this milestone feel less daunting—it doesn’t have to be! Just like with feeding a newborn—go with whatever you feel comfortable with.
The AAP and La Leche League (LLL) recommend the following feeding timeline and amounts for 5-month-olds:
- Breast milk: 5 to 7 ounces every 3 to 4 hours
- Formula: 5 to 6 ounces every 4 to 5 hours
Read more: 5-month-old baby feeding schedule & amounts
Common feeding issues: Distracted feeding
Is your 5-month-old baby distracted while breastfeeding or bottle feeding? Distracted feeding becomes especially common between months 3 and 5, as their vision improves and they want to play more and engage with their environment. It’s normal and developmentally appropriate, notes La Leche League, but that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating at times. If it’s taking your little one longer to finish a feeding session than it used to, or if you’re worried they’re not getting enough milk, we’ve got some tips to help baby stay focused on feeding.
How to avoid distracted feeding
- Feed or nurse your baby in a quiet, dark room, away from other distractions
- Play soft music or white noise while feeding your baby
- Consider using a nursing cover while feeding to help limit your baby’s field of vision
- Breastfeed or bottle feed while wearing baby in a baby carrier
- Nurse or feed while standing and swaying
5-month-old baby weight
For babies up to 2 years of age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using the World Health Organization (WHO) weight and length charts.
The WHO growth charts for babies 0 to 2 years are based on what is standard for a predominantly breastfed infant. According to the organization, the WHO charts reflect growth patterns among children who were predominantly breastfed for at least 4 months and were still breastfeeding at 12 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends continuing to breastfeed for at least two years, as long as it benefits both mother and baby.
How much does the average 5-month-old weigh?
Your 5-month-old baby is still in a period of rapid growth. If they haven’t already, many babies will have doubled their birth weight by month 5, and you can expect your little one to gain another 1 pound to 1.25 pounds this month. Things may start to slow down around 6 months and beyond, but only slightly!
According to the WHO:
- A 5-month-old baby boy in the 50th percentile weighs 16 pounds, 9 ounces (7.5 kilograms)
- A 5-month-old baby girl in the 50th percentile weighs 15 pounds, 3 ounces (6.9 kilograms)
What factors contribute to a 5-month-old baby’s weight?
Now, your baby’s weight may be a factor of how much milk they’re getting, their assigned sex and their activity levels.
Assigned sex at birth: Males tend to gain weight slightly faster than females.
Daily milk intake: The amount your little one takes in at each feeding plays a role in their weight.
Activity levels: Your little one may be working on rolling over and sitting up with some support this month. Baby’s activity levels may factor into their overall weight, as physical activity helps build strong muscles and bones.
5-month-old baby length
In month five, you can expect your baby to grow another 0.8 inches (about 2 centimeters).
How long is the average 5-month-old?
According to the WHO:
- A 5-month-old baby boy in the 50th percentile is 26 inches long (65.9 cm)
- A 5-month-old baby girl in the 50th percentile is 25 ¼ inches long (64 cm)
What factors contribute to a 5-month-old baby’s length?
Length (or height) can be hereditary: The height of a baby’s parents and other family members strongly influences their future height. But other factors come into play, too, such as nutrition, physical activity and sleep. One study identified that babies tend to grow after long naps and longer stretches of nighttime sleep.
Growth charts and percentiles
At each of your child’s well-checks, the pediatrician will plot their weight, length and head circumference on a growth chart, the same one they’ve used since they were born. Growth charts show how your baby has grown over time and how a baby’s weight or length may be compared to that of other babies who are the same age.
For example, let’s say your baby’s weight is in the 75th percentile. That means that 25% of babies of the same age and sex weigh more, and 75% of babies weigh less. All babies grow at their own pace, and can be healthy whether they’re in the 5th percentile or 95th. Your child’s pediatrician will be looking at the overall growth pattern, or curve, to make sure your child is showing steady, sustained growth over time.
It might seem like your baby is growing nonstop—but some periods are more marked than others. After going through growth spurts in months three and four, you can likely expect your little one’s next big growth spurt to be around the corner in month six. However, every baby is different and grows at their own pace, so don’t be surprised if your 5-month-old seems hungrier or fussier than usual.
Extra crankiness and hunger are both signs of growth spurts, which typically last anywhere from a few days up to a week.
Another telltale sign of a possible growth spurt is when your little one wants to feed more during the night than during the daytime hours, in what’s known as reverse cycling. If it feels like they’re making up for lost time (and lost calories) when they’re usually sleeping, it could be a growth spurt, or it could just be that they’re distracted during their day feeds and aren’t getting as much as they need to. (Our tips above can help!)
Babies under 6 months will still need at least one nighttime feed, but if they’re waking every two hours (newborn style), something might be up. Reach out to your pediatrician for support.
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When should I worry about my baby’s growth?
Your 5-month-old baby should be scheduled for a well-check next month, during which your pediatrician will plot your child’s weight, length and head circumference and analyze the pattern for any trends. As a general rule of thumb, if your doctor is worried about their growth curve, they’ll let you know. But at home, you can keep an eye on your baby’s growth and development, too, taking note if they can’t hold up their head or if they can’t yet sit up at all with support or aren’t able to bring their hands to their mouth. If you notice these signs in your baby, be sure to bring it up with their pediatrician.
5-month-old baby sleep
The 5-month mark is when many babies start to follow a more regular sleep schedule. Every baby is different, of course, but you’ll likely notice your baby is more active and awake during the day—especially the morning hours—and pretty tuckered out at naps and nighttime. (with all the work they’re doing to meet some new big physical milestones, it’s no surprise your 5-month-old will *hopefully* be sleeping better these days).
Still, a 5-month-old baby should get between 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. This is generally divided into both nighttime sleep and around three naps during the day.
What baby sleep looks like at 5 months:
- Your baby may be taking 3 to 4 naps per day, and possibly ready to drop the fourth nap
- Your baby may be waking just once to eat at night
- Your baby may be awake for 1.5 to 2.5 hours at a time
Your little one might be ready to drop a nap this month—there are a few signs to look out for.
How to tell when it’s time to drop a nap:
- Your child’s regular naps have gotten significantly shorter for two or more consecutive weeks
- Your child has been rejecting their last nap for two or more consecutive weeks
- Your child is having trouble falling asleep at night or is rising too early
Too much daytime sleep can unfortunately affect nighttime sleep, which is why starting to stick to a consistent sleep schedule (see an example of a 5-month-old sleep schedule here) can be really helpful at this age. If you have more questions, chat with your pediatrician.
Read more: How much sleep does a 5-month-old baby need?
Diapering a 5-month-old
Your 5-month-old should be having around anywhere from 5 to 8 wet diapers a day, and should be on a somewhat regular bowel movement schedule of one or more poops per day. Though there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to poop, you likely know now what’s ‘normal’ for your baby. Skipping a day or two usually isn’t cause for concern, but if you’re worried about their stool frequency, a quick check-in with the pediatrician can’t hurt.
Until you start solid foods next month, for breastfed babies, stool consistency should be soft and slightly runny. For formula-fed babies, stool consistency should be paste-like, but not hard. If your baby has hard, formed or pellet-like stools, it may be a sign of constipation. Your pediatrician can share the best next steps.
Caring for a 5-month-old
If you missed your baby’s 4-month well-check, know that you can reschedule it anytime—it’s always OK to make it up at a later date. Regular pediatrician visits are important to establish a baseline of care for your baby. That way, your baby’s doctor will be able to understand what’s typical for your little one and what might be out of the ordinary. There’s another well-check at month 6, with another round of routine childhood vaccinations that will be important to get to best protect your baby from disease and illness.
Recall that daily baths at this age aren’t a necessity. The AAP recommends no more than three baths per week in the first year, and to keep bathtime relatively short—just 10 to 15 minutes. If your little one enjoys them, baths before bed can make for a relaxing wind-down, for both of you.
From teething to fevers to babyproofing, here’s what to know about caring for a 5-month-old baby.
If your baby hasn’t yet shown the hallmark signs of teething, they might make their appearance this month. Teething usually sets in between months 4 and 7.
- General fussiness
- Reddened cheeks (one cheek may be more affected)
- Extra saliva/drooling
- Mild congestion
- Mild fever
- Diarrhea from extra saliva
Teething hurts—and your baby will likely (loudly) let you know. Luckily, there are a few baby-safe ways to help reduce teething pain, like offering them a wooden or silicone teething ring to chew on, giving them a clean, cold and wet washcloth to suck on, or simply rubbing their sore gums with your (clean) finger. It’s a good time to play white noise during their naps and night sleeps to help distract them from the pain, too.
If your little one seems especially miserable or uncomfortable, talk to your pediatrician about offering them a dose of infant pain reliever, like Tylenol, but they’ll need to share the correct dosing amounts based on your baby’s weight.
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With over 32K 5-star ratings, it’s hard to deny the love of these paci-turned-teether toys. The familiarly styled design is easy for the littlest teethers to manipulate while the bumpy texture offers plenty of relief. For added soothing, turn it over, fill with water and freeze for ten minutes!
Generally speaking, fevers are a sign that your baby’s immune system is functioning well, and in many cases, the best course of action is to keep your baby hydrated and let the fever run its course. But if you’re worried about a fever in a 5-month-old, be sure to take note of all their symptoms, and how long the fever has lasted. If your little one has had a fever for more than 24 hours, has a sore throat, runny nose, stiff neck, what seems like a severe headache, is having a tough time sleeping or seems unusually drowsy or lethargic, be sure to reach out to your pediatrician. They can assess whether to offer them infant Tylenol.
Babies under 6 months should not take ibuprofen (Motrin). And remember, children and teens under the age of 18 years should not be given aspirin due to the risk of a dangerous illness called Reye syndrome.
Using a built-in infrared temperature sensor, the iHealth PT3 thermometer can read a person’s body temperature within 1.18 inches from the forehead without touching the skin. Also, this best-selling thermometer shows the temperature in just one second on its easy-to-read, extra-large LED display, even in total darkness, and doesn’t beep or buzz, making it easy for parents to take their little one’s temp while they are sleeping.
Crawling, scooting and pulling up are likely in your baby’s near future, which makes now a good time to start babyproofing.
Here’s a babyproofing checklist to get you started:
- Keep all electronics with cords (i.e. monitor, sound machine, etc.) out of reach and at least 3 feet away from your baby’s sleeping area
- Tie up all cords from blinds or shades
- Remove any low-hanging baby mobiles if your little one can pull up to reach them
- Keep all loveys, blankets and stuffed animals out of baby’s crib
- Corral all small household items (paper clips, batteries, loose change, etc.) that could be a choking hazard into a safe area. A general rule of thumb is that if something is small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is a choking hazard.
- Securely attach any furniture that could tip (bookcases, bureaus, dressers) to the wall
- Add corner protectors to sharp edges such as coffee tables
- Install baby gates to block off stairs
- Lock away bathroom trash cans, medicines and cleaning supplies
- Consider getting a toilet seat lock
- Secure all detergent and laundry pods to a safe area out of reach.
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To help prevent your child from opening every drawer and cabinet, this multi-purpose child safety strap can be used on toilets, cabinets, drawers, trash cans, ovens or refrigerators. The safety strap can adjust from to different lengths and will fit almost any size appliance or furniture.
This mounted, adjustable gate fits narrow and wide openings and is suitable for the top of stairs. There is also a directional stop clip to allow opening in only one direction, but is easy to use with one adult hand while carrying a baby. Unlike mounted gates, pressurized gates pose a tripping hazard, can move banisters or damage walls. With enough force, a pressurized gate can slide out of place which poses an increased risk for adults and children.
A note from Motherly on self-care while caring for a 5-month-old
With a more regular schedule starting to take shape, you might feel like you have a bit more breathing room (funny how routines can actually make us feel a bit freer, right?). It’s easy to fill your downtime with things you feel like you have to get done (endless laundry, mountains of dishes), but those things can wait, mama. You don’t need anyone’s permission to take a break or sit and do absolutely nothing for an hour while baby naps. Sometimes a bit of control over your own time during the day can make you mentally ready to handle what’s next—and may mean you won’t fall prey to revenge bedtime at night.
But if you feel like you’re struggling, or just barely getting through until bedtime, reach out to a mental health expert, who can help address your symptoms. Postpartum depression can set in anytime in the first year after birth—and help is out there.
Postpartum depression resources
If you’re experiencing any postpartum mood symptoms, no matter how mild, know that help is available. Reach out to your healthcare provider about next steps and potential treatment options, such as more support at home, therapy or medication. If you’re in crisis, reach out to a crisis hotline or dial 988 or 911 for immediate support.
The phone numbers listed below are available 24/7 to help you with suicidal thoughts or other mental health crises.
The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS)
- Available in English and Spanish and in a completely confidential line.
Postpartum Support International: 1-800-944-4773 (call or text)
- Available in English and Spanish
- National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call or text 988
- Available in English and Spanish