Your Baby's Development: Month Five
Most babies learn to roll from their front to their back around now, but rolling back the other way usually takes longer. The first few times a baby rolls can result in a rather clumsy landing which may startle them. Make sure that they lie on cushioned surfaces to prevent them from banging their head - a padded play mat is ideal when they are not in their cot. Once they get more confident they will soon get the hang of controlling this manoeuvre a little more gracefully!
Your baby can probably now take some weight on his or her legs when you hold them up on your lap or on the floor. Don't force this if they seem uncomfortable, walking is still a long way off and they need to develop the muscles in their legs gradually.
Social and Emotional Development
At this age babies tend to know and respond to their name. They are still very sociable because they haven't yet developed the notion of 'stranger anxiety', so they are usually happy to interact with most people. Take a step back from your baby if you have the opportunity, and allow others to talk to him and play with him. Being exposed to other people, adults and children, is not only stimulating for them but also helps to begin teaching them about basic social behaviour.
Your baby will show a continual interest in what you are doing and how you behave, learning from you all the time. Let your baby join you at the table when you eat, even though they are not yet weaned they will be fascinated by watching you eat food. It will really help them to start a good relationship with meals when they are weaned if they have already experienced sitting at the table and watching how food is eaten.
Some babies develop a keen interest in blowing raspberries around now, particularly when they realise it gets a reaction from others. They'll be especially pleased if you can reply with another one. Unfortunately your baby is some way off understanding when these games might be appropriate, so look out for the raspberry blowing at feeding time, particularly towards the end when they are starting to feel full and losing interest in their milk - nobody likes being sprayed with a mouthful of breast milk or formula!
Speech and Communication
You will probably start to see a real change in your baby's communication skills around now. Their babble will start to contain a greater number of vowel-consonant combinations and these sounds will become more pronounced.
Make your communication with others clear in front of your child, make a point of saying 'Hello' and 'Goodbye', waving to or hugging others (as appropriate!). Your baby will soon learn to imitate these behaviours, waving is a particular favourite amongst little ones!
By 5 months of age it can seem improbable that a baby can be growing so quickly, and still survive on milk alone. However, they do, and most health professionals still recommend that a baby is fed exclusively on either breast milk or formula (or a combination of the two) for the first six months of their lives. If your baby is growing at a good rate and has plenty of wet and dirty nappies then it is unlikely that you need to start solids before the 6 month mark.
Touch is a really important sense for babies, so providing them with a range of different textures is a great (and cheap!) way to stimulate and entertain them. Offer your baby soft or furry items that she can really get her fingers into, and harder or rougher items such as a hairbrush or a (large) stone - they will all interest her. Make sure that none of these materials are dirty, sharp or at risk of breaking up. If the object is small enough to fit through the hole of a toilet roll then it poses a risk of choking and should not be given to a baby. Never ever leave your baby unattended whilst they are exploring in this way.
Be Careful Of...
...Rolling into things. Check that your baby cannot roll into furniture or onto toys that might hurt them. Also be aware of what will now be more easily within reach for your baby as they start to travel across the floor more. It has never been safe to leave your baby unattended on a bed, changing table or other raised surface but that point is more important now than ever before.
As more and more items get put in your baby's mouth, take the time to keep toys clean and check them for broken parts. If you have older children, be careful not to let their smaller toys come into the areas where your baby plays. Soft toys can harbour lots of germs so wash them regularly and check for any defects - particularly along the seams and where buttons and decorations are sewn on.