Baby development at 4-5 months: what’s happening
Over the first few months, your baby has learned to know your voice, remember what you look like and understand that you respond when your baby needs you. At about five months old, your baby is starting to form a stronger attachment to you. Baby has also got to know other caregivers well, and understands who they are.
Your baby will turn to you when you speak, and baby might even respond to their name or another sound, like a bell ringing.
Your baby is showing more emotion – blowing ‘raspberries’, squealing, making sounds like ‘ah-goo’ and even trying to copy the up-and-down tone you use when you talk. Your baby might smile and talk to themself (and you!) in the mirror. Your baby is also starting to show emotions like anger and frustration. Instead of crying your baby might growl or whinge.
Your baby really enjoys reaching and grabbing everything – dangling rings, rattles, toys, small blocks and more. Babies can hold things in their hand using their palm and pointer finger and will often put things in their mouth.
At this age, babies might also:
- drop something – for example, a rattle – and turn their head to look for it (but baby probably won’t look down for it just yet)
- roll from back to tummy as well as from tummy to back
- sit up with support around their hips and behind their bottom and lower back
- put their fingers in their mouth and start getting interested in what you’re eating – this interest will grow over the coming weeks.
You’ll be surprised at how far your baby can roll and what they can reach, so always watch your baby. It doesn’t take long for baby to unexpectedly roll into or reach for something that puts them in danger.
Helping baby development at 4-5 months
Here are a few simple things you can do to help your baby’s development at this age:
- Talk and listen to your baby: by doing this you’re helping baby learn about language and communication. When you talk and listen, look your baby in the eye and make facial expressions to help baby learn the link between words and feelings.
- Play together: sing songs, read books, play with toys, do tummy time and make funny sounds together – your baby will love it! Playing together helps you and your baby get to know each other and also helps baby feel loved and secure.
- Find a routine: when it feels right for you and your baby, it can help to do things in a similar order each day – for example, feed, play, sleep. This pattern also helps your baby feel safe and secure.
- Prepare your home for a moving baby: it’s a good idea to look at how you can make your home safe for baby to move about in.
Sometimes your baby won’t want to do some of these things – for example, they might be too tired or hungry. They'll use special baby cues to let you know when they've had enough and what they need.
Crying and how to respond
Sometimes you’ll know why your baby is crying. When you respond to your baby’s crying – for example, by changing a wet nappy or feeding – your baby feels more comfortable and safe.
Sometimes you might not know why your baby is crying, but it’s still important to comfort your baby. You can’t spoil a baby by picking them up, cuddling them or talking to them in a soothing voice.
But lots of crying might make you feel frustrated, upset or overwhelmed. It’s OK to take some time out until you feel calmer. Put your baby in a safe place like a cot, or ask someone else to hold your baby for a while. Try going to another room to breathe deeply, or call a family member or friend to talk things through.
Never shake a baby. It can cause bleeding inside the brain and likely permanent brain damage.
It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caring for your baby, call your local Parentline. You might also like to try our ideas for dealing with anger, anxiety and stress.
Parenting a five-month-old
Every day you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. As your baby grows and develops, you’ll learn more about what your baby needs and how you can meet these needs.
As a parent, you’re always learning. It’s OK to feel confident about what you know. And it’s also OK to admit you don’t know something and ask questions or get help.
When you’re focusing on looking after a baby, you might forget or run out of time to look after yourself. But looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally will help your child grow and thrive.
When to be concerned about baby development
Seeing, hearing and communicating
- is crying a lot and this is worrying you
- isn’t making eye contact with you or doesn’t follow moving objects with their eyes
- isn’t making any sounds or responding to noises.
Behaviour and learning
Your child isn’t smiling and isn’t putting objects in their mouth.
Movement and motor skills
- isn’t lifting their head or has poor head control
- doesn’t reach for objects
- isn’t rolling.
If you notice that your baby no longer has some of the skills they once had, you should see a child health professional.
You should also see your child and family health nurse or GP if you or your partner experiences the signs of postnatal depression in women or postnatal depression in men. Symptoms of postnatal depression include feeling sad and crying for no obvious reason, feeling irritable, having difficulty coping and feeling very anxious.