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5 month old baby: Development & nutrition advice

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Get ready for some impressive developments

From grabbing and grasping objects, to preparing for their first taste of puréed food, there is a lot to look forward to as your increasingly active 5-month-old baby continues to develop at a rapid rate.

What’s happening this month?

During this month’s phase of rapid development, you may see your 5-month-old baby learn or perfect a number of skills necessary for later life. Their increasing activity levels and independence may lead to a bigger appetite. So, while it may be time to start thinking about weaning, it is recommended that milk remains your baby’s sole source of nutrition until the age of six months.

Your baby will be developing a better grip, and will be able to grab and grasp whatever is within their reach

Your baby’s developing strength

At 5 months old, your baby will be developing a better grip, and will be able to grab and grasp whatever is within their reach.

“Babies often put things in their mouth to explore the taste and texture.”1

As their natural grasp reflex gradually turns into more controlled hand and finger movements, they’ll be able to explore objects by holding and shaking them with their hands rather than simply sucking on them. However, they won’t have learnt how to let go of them yet1!

Their arms, upper body and neck are getting stronger too, which means they will soon be able to sit up, wriggle and roll around.

Coming up to weaning: A smooth transition to solids

Before you know it, your baby will require more than just milk to support their growth and development. Weaning, or introducing ‘solids’, is an important milestone, and it is important that you know how to recognise the signs of weaning before you get started.

Yet many mothers are unsure what to feed their 5-month-olds at this pivotal stage. Up until six months, your baby’s digestive system is still developing, so they may not be able to process anything other than milk.

“Weaning too early can increase the risk of allergies and infections.”1

For this reason – and because breast milk provides complete nutrition for your baby – the Department of Health recommends delaying weaning up until the age of six months.

Once you are sure, however, baby rice is ideal to feed your baby as a first food. Made with their usual milk, it has a soft, thicker texture for an easy introduction. It can then be mixed with fruit and vegetables purées to introduce your baby to the exciting world of new tastes and textures.

Ways to stimulate your baby’s development

Your 5-month-old baby will learn through play, and the floor is the ideal place to do this. Placing them on their tummy with toys just out of their reach will strengthen their tummy muscles and encourage them to roll over.

“Rolling over is an important milestone in your baby’s development.”

Filling a lidded plastic container with dry rice or pasta will give them something to hold and shake. This is a good way for them to practise using their hand and finger muscles and will help them understand the consequences of dropping it.

And remember that your baby will love to concentrate on you by smiling, laughing and imitating you. They may quickly get bored with their favourite toy, but they’ll never tire of your attention.

View references

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1. NHS UK. Birth-to-5 development timeline [Online]. 2011. Available at: [Accessed April 2014]

Last reviewed: 13th August 2014
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