Every month your baby grows and reaches new developmental milestones. Each developmental milestone brings about exciting new activities you will both enjoy.
If your little one is five months old, try the activities below to help challenge their developing brains and growing bodies, while also helping them reach their next milestones.
1. Head Shoulders Knees and Toes Song
The next time give your little one a routine diaper change, have fun singing the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”
Then, gently tap each body part as you sing the song to them. Not only will singing the song keep them interested, but it will also teach them the names of each body part.
Even though your 5-month-old is not speaking yet, using these common words will lay the foundation for language development.
Another way to encourage body awareness, and keep your five-month-old entertained is by letting them look at themselves in a mirror.
Research shows that babies are not able to recognize that they are the object they see in the mirror until 24 months of age. Even though they may not realize that they are looking at themselves until much later, five-month-olds will enjoy looking at themselves in a mirror.
It will also help them become familiar with their own body, and eventually, they will figure it out. While your child is looking in a mirror, you can ask them questions to help build body awareness and language development.
Talk to your baby and ask, “Whose arm is this?” or gently tap their arm and say, “I found your arm” to build this connection.
Although they are not quite ready for the “Soarin over California” ride, picking up your five-month-old and moving them through the air is a good idea for helping your baby develop their vestibular system and body awareness.
Gently wobble them through the air, so they practice balancing and keeping their weight centered. Give them a break every few minutes so their brain and body can register the movements.
Five-month-olds love to play peek-a-boo. At five months, most babies have developed object recognition.
This means that they realize something still exists even when it is mostly hidden from their sight. Object permanence, or their ability to understand an object still exists when it’s completely hidden, is likely still developing.
Peek-a-boo is exciting for them because they realize that you are still there, despite you covering your face. They will learn from you, and your little one can learn how to cover their face and play peek-a-boo, too!
5. Hide-and-Seek with a Toy
Another good idea to help your baby develop object permanence is playing hide-and-seek with a toy. Make sure your child sees the toy and then place it under a blanket, leaving a bit sticking out.
They should realize that the toy you showed them is under the blanket and try to pull the blanket away. If your little one pulls the blanket away, show excitement, and praise them for finding the toy!
6. Watch the Toy
Another five-month milestone for babies is the development of visual tracking skills. This means they can look at an object with both eyes and follow the object as it moves, without crossing their eyes or moving their head.
You may also notice that your little one begins to make eye contact with you and other people. Visual tracking is an important milestone, and practice will help your baby develop this skill further.
Lay your baby down on their back. Then hold one of their toys a few inches above their face. Once they are looking at it, start slowly moving the toy up and down, and side to side.
If they lose focus, bring the toy a little closer to their face so they can refocus and then move it out a couple of inches before moving it again.
You can also use a toy that makes sounds, like a rattle, to develop their sound perception as well.
Bubbles are another fun way to help babies develop visual tracking. Baby can sit on your lap, in a baby carrier, or be enjoying tummy time while you blow bubbles in front of them!
Looking at all the different bubbles floating through the air will help them practice their tracking skills.
You can also purchase a bubble machine if you don’t want to blow the bubbles yourself.
8. Tummy Time
For babies 5-6 months of age, up to an hour of tummy time each day is suggested.
Tummy time helps your baby develop their neck and shoulder strength, gross motor skills, and the strength needed for other big movements (i.e., crawling, rolling over, sitting up, and walking).
Within a couple of months of consistent tummy time, your little one might start rolling over on their own or even move onto their hands and knees.
Always keep a close eye on your child during tummy time. It is not safe to let your child fall asleep on their tummy.
Try to schedule tummy time when they are super alert, like after a bath or a diaper change.
9. Baby Sit-Ups
Find a comfortable place to sit with both legs stretched out in front of you. Put one hand under each of your little one’s arms.
Slowly raise your knees toward your face. Move your legs back down into a straightened position again and repeat the movement.
This exercise will help your baby build their neck muscles needed for supporting their head.
10. Baby Yoga
Baby yoga is a great idea to incorporate into your daily routine as it provides strength training for both baby and parent.
If your little one can lift their head, try the super baby pose.
Lie down on your back and then lift your knees to a 90-degree angle. Your shins should be parallel to the floor.
Then lift your baby and place them on top of your shins. Hold onto their hands, and gently move your legs up and down.
Your little one will feel like they are flying. If you enjoy the super baby pose or want to try an easier option, there are several other yoga poses to try with your five-month-old.
Grasp and Hand-Eye Coordination
Wooden puzzles are a great way to develop motor skills and encourage babies to move objects.
You will probably have to model what to do with the puzzle several times and guide your baby’s hands, but eventually, they will learn the concept.
A wooden puzzle is also a great way to introduce your little one to the letters in their name, shapes, or numbers.
12. Rolling a Ball
Try rolling a ball to your child and encourage them to pick it up. This activity will allow them to practice their hand-eye coordination, visual tracking, and grasp.
13. Stacking Cups or Blocks
Give your child cups or blocks and model how to pick up objects and stack them on top of each other. My nephews were obsessed with stacking cups and taking them down when they were practicing these skills!
Giving your child a teething toy will help relieve their sore gums, but it will also help develop their grasp and ability to move objects from one hand to the other.
At this age, they will put any toy you give them into their mouth and gnaw on it. Make sure you choose a toy that is made specifically for teething, so it does not pose a choking hazard.
15. Walks Outside
Taking your five-month-old on walks outside is another great idea. Going for walks will expose your little one to all sorts of new sights, sounds, and smells.
16. Bath Time
Bath time gets a little more exciting as your little one develops the ability to sit up and enjoy the big bathtub, as opposed to lying down in your lap or another support made for the tub.
Once they can sit up, they can enjoy playing with all sorts of bath toys and splashing in the water.
17. Finger Puppets
Finger puppets are a great way to keep your child focused and engaged while you talk to your baby. Some books even come with built-in finger puppets-how convenient and adorable!
18. Story Time
We all know how essential reading to our children is. Even though they cannot understand the story, five-month olds can look at the picture and may also help turn the pages.
This experience will give your little one a head start on developing beginning literacy skills and their concept of reading as a special bonding time with their loved ones.
19. Make Music
Fill up an empty plastic water bottle with uncooked rice and let your little one experiment with all the different sounds.
The old-fashioned pots and pans drum set with a wooden spoon is another cheap and easy way to let your baby explore different sounds.
Of course, you can also buy several different baby toys that light up and make music for them to play with, too.
20. Listen to Music
Play some jazz or other soothing tunes for your baby to enjoy. Always keep the volume at a low level and don’t keep it on for extended periods.
Your little one can become used to the music and eventually tune it out.
21. Sign Language
Your child can begin learning sign language once they are five-months-old. Focus on teaching them a few basic signs to help them communicate their needs, such as being tired, hungry, or thirsty.
To teach them, do the sign yourself and say the word for the sign at the same time. For example, when your baby begins showing signs of being tired (yawning, getting fussy, droopy eyelids), say the word “tired” and show them the sign for tired a few times.
It will probably take more than a couple of months for them to learn, and they probably won’t sign back until they are at least a year old, so try to start teaching them at this age.