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Your 5-Month-Old: Milestones & Development

March 25, 2024

Vera Malushi, PT, DPT, lends us her expertise as a pediatric physical therapist to recommend developmentally-appropriate ways to play with your 3-month-old. She is the founder of Milestones Pediatric Physical Therapy and shares a wealth of knowledge and tips on her Instagram page @milestones_pediatric_pt.

With every passing day, your baby’s personality is coming out more and more to charm your socks off! They’re babbling, smiling, giggling, and interacting with you more than ever. This makes playtime extra fun these days, since they’ve built up plenty of trunk strength (thanks to those tummy time sessions!) and are eager to engage. Now that they have more control over their little body and you don’t have to support their head when you hold them, things are probably starting to feel much more manageable these days. It only gets more fun and exciting from here on out, so here’s everything you can look forward to in the next few weeks!

Physical development & movement

This month, your baby will likely master the skill of rolling in both directions. That newfound mobility means your little explorer is becoming more independent and curious, and it’s crucial to put any hazardous objects far out of reach. Soon, the rolling will give way to crawling, and then walking!

Although your baby can’t quite sit up without support yet, they’re much more stable than they were just a few weeks ago. When placed in a high chair, in front of pillows, or on the floor between your legs, they’re able to sit up and play with toys. This helps your baby develop the core strength that will help them sit independently within the next few months! You may also notice your little one trying to sit up when they’re in a reclined position, like an infant car seat or bouncer. It’s entertaining to watch your baby do abdominal crunches, but it’s also a sign that they’re outgrowing that bouncer! Always make sure they’re strapped in correctly to prevent them from falling out, make sure they haven’t already hit the weight limit for the product, and prioritize plenty of floor time over having them in a baby container (such as a bouncer or swing).

Your baby is also getting better at picking up large, easy-to-grasp toys (although they’re still a little clumsy about it), so practice handing them soft balls or blocks. You’ll notice that their hand-eye coordination is quickly improving, and they’ll soon begin pulling objects closer with a raking motion.


By now, your little one also knows their own name and may even turn toward you when you call it! Not only are they babbling up a storm, they’re also better able to control the sounds they make! You’ll be hearing them experiment making high-pitched sounds, screaming, and lots of consonants with vowel sounds (like ga, da, and ba). Repeat the sounds they make back to them and, even if it seems silly, narrate everything you do when you’re together, whether it’s changing their diaper, pointing out the birds flying overhead, or naming the color of flowers blooming in your yard. Hearing all these words boosts their cognitive development, and will help build their vocabulary as they grow!


Your baby can now focus on objects without going cross-eyed, and can see much further than they could just a couple months ago! You’ll notice that they easily track objects, such as toys or your face, and can also recognize you from a distance. Because your baby is beginning to grasp the concept of object permanence (understanding that a toy, parent, or something tangible still exists even when out of view), a game of peek-a-boo is sure to elicit those delightful giggles!


If you haven’t already introduced solids to your baby, you may be planning to start this month. Although feeding experts recommend waiting until 6 months of age, many pediatricians give the green light at 4 or 5 months old. Remember that all food right now is just for practice, and that your baby should still be getting most of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula!

How to play with your 5-month-old

“In month 5, baby likely has found their legs! They will be reaching for their knees and toes. If you have a super strong gymnast, they might even be able to bring their toes to their mouth. This is a great strengthening exercise for legs and belly muscles. Try placing rattle bracelets on baby’s ankles while they are on their back and get their interest to bring feet to hands. Helium balloons tied to baby’s ankles are also a big hit. Of course, always make sure to supervise play!”
Dr. Vera Malushi, PT, DPT

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Your 5-Month-Old: Milestones & Development

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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