Baby's on a roll this month, now that he’s figured out how to move by himself. Find out what other 5 month baby milestones he'll reach.

By Nicole Sweeney Etter
Updated October 03, 2019
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Make sure your home is fully baby-proofed because your little one will be motoring around on his own. "Their goal is figuring out how to interact with his environment," explains Thomas M. Seman, M.D., a pediatrician and president of North Shore Pediatrics in the Boston area.

What to Expect in the Fifth Month

"The biggest things we see are those jittery baby movements becoming fluid movements," says Michelle Linsmeier, M.D., a pediatrician in the Milwaukee area. On average, most babies start to roll between 3 to 5 months, and they might roll to get from one place to another.

"You're also seeing more interaction and more eye contact. You're going to start to see real laughing, more rolling over, and moving from side to side, trying to figure out how to sit up a little more as they change their perspective from being on the belly," Dr. Seman says. 

The baby’s improving vision also contributes to his desire to move around. “Four-month-olds are seeing 10 to 12 feet away, and color is starting to come into play,” says Dr. Seman. “As they progress from the fourth to fifth month and fifth to sixth, color becomes much more intensified, and with that drive of seeing more is a greater impetus” to move toward the color.

Your baby may begin the "army crawl" on his belly, slithering across the floor as quickly as his little arms can pull him. Naturally, that means even more things to discover—and taste. "Most of their information is still coming through their mouth," Dr. Seman says. That's because young babies have the highest density of nerves in and around their mouths, something that will change as they get older. Their fine motor skills are also advancing, and they'll begin to transfer an object from hand to hand if they haven't already.

Inform your doctor if your child still hasn't rolled over at least once by this stage. "At 5 and 6 months, they should be able to roll over easily both ways," Dr. Seman says. If your child doesn't follow an object with his eyes, you should mention it to your pediatrician. "[Your baby's] not seeing means that she does not want to be part of the environment," Dr. Seman says. "Then the question is are they not hearing, are they not seeing, do they not have the physical strength, or do they not care?"

How to Help Baby Development

Reading and talking are important beginning in infancy, but play becomes even more vital as your baby gets older. "Playing with your baby can really make a difference," Dr. Linsmeier says. "Get out that baby mirror—babies love mirrors because they can see their reactions." Bright books might also become fascinating now that your baby's vision is better.  To develop her fine motor control, give her toys she can manipulate with her fingers, and encourage her to practice holding and dropping items. 

Continue to boost your baby's strength with tummy time and sitting practice, but don’t worry if your child doesn't simultaneously progress in gross motor, fine motor, and language/social development. "Your child isn't going to say 'dada' and 'mama,' sit up, and crawl all at the same time," Dr. Seman says. 

In terms of 5 month baby milestones, it's also OK if he doesn't roll all the time as long as he shows he can do it. "Some kids don't like to roll," Dr. Linsmeier says. "Even if they have the skill of rolling, if they can't stand tummy time, they're not going to do it."

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