You'll notice your baby becoming increasingly sociable this month, which is delightful. He'll warm your heart by giving you spontaneous hugs and trying to kiss you - a fabulous 'first'.
He'll probably start to recognise his name during the next few weeks and he'll laugh when you amuse him: he's your best audience, for now at least!
Here's a rundown of other likely developments and how you can encourage your baby:
• Your baby is close to being able to sit unsupported, and you can encourage him by sitting him supported with cushions with his legs in a fairly wide 'V' shape - although you must supervise him at all times until he can sit completely unsupported.
• Your baby will amuse you by blowing raspberries as he experiments with 'language'. You can encourage him in this by blowing some back. Join in with his babbling, too, and introduce new sounds for him to try to copy: 'mamamama', for instance!
• Use your baby's name often, and point to him when you do so. Point yourself when you say 'Mummy',too, so he gets to understand that everyone has a name of his or her own.
• He'll start to bear his own weight when you stand him in your lap, but make sure you always support him well under his arms or around his waist.
• From 17 weeks it's OK to introduce first solid foods if your baby seems desperate for more than milk.
Go gently at first, offering small tasters of baby rice, made up with breast or formula milk; or fruit or veg purees, fortified with a little baby rice. Start off with only a couple of teaspoonsful, offered mid milk feed when she's not starving, but not yet satiated either.
• Your baby may try to grab his feeding spoon off you: let him! Be prepared for plenty of mess by laying down a plastic mat first of all, then let him experiment to his heart's content. He might want to put his fingers into the food or spit it straight back. However he reacts, go with it: if you seem uptight, your baby will notice and be put off the idea of solids. Make it fun and let him take the lead.
Your baby may already have a couple of lower teeth emerging, but if not then by the end of his fifth month he'll probably be showing signs of teething. Some babies are even born with a tooth present at birth, although this is unusual.
The first teeth to emerge are usually the lower front pair, followed by the upper two, and you should start brushing them with a soft baby toothbrush and a tiny blob of toothpaste as soon as they begin to break through the gums.
Signs of teething include:
• Putting his toys and his fists into his mouth more often than before.
• Whingeing in apparent discomfort.
• Dribbling more than usual.
• Having flushed, red cheeks (although you should, of course, check his temperature in case he has a fever with and underlying cause).
• Having whitened, stretched-looking gums.
• Refusing or resisting feeds.
• Crying more at night.
• Diarrhoea and/or nappy rash, thought to be caused by swallowing excess saliva.
What you can do to help
• Offer your baby a chilled (never frozen) teething ring. These are hard, liquid-filled plastic rings your baby may find soothing to chomp down on.
• Try giving him a chilled stick of carrot - but make sure never to leave him alone with food at this stage as he could choke. Don't offer foods or other objects that are too hard, as these could make his gums more sore or cause bruising.
• Smear a little petroleum jelly or nappy rash cream under his lower lip and across his chin to prevent the soreness caused by dribbling.
• Try a homeopathic teething powder or an anaesthetising teething gel, both available from your pharmacist.
• If he usually has breast milk or warmed baby milk, try offering him expressed or formula milk that has previously been chilled.
• If he's very irritable from the discomfort of teething, give him an age-appropriate dose of infant paracetamol.
• Try to distract him with toys and games he enjoys best.
GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR FIVE-MONTH-OLD
Your baby's ability to interact with games and toys is increasing steadily. She'll soon adapt the position of her hand to receive anything you pass to her comfortably;and she'll show her excitement by bobbing up and down and making all sorts of sounds, including babbling and giggling. This will give you an idea of her favourite toys and games as well as keeping you amused.
The sorts of toys and games she'll enjoy include:
• Toys with mirrors: she'll be fascinated to see 'another baby' in the reflection, although it'll be several months yet before she realises that she's looking at herself.
• Fabric or board books: and if they have different textures to stroke and explore, and maybe a button or two to press in order to produce a sound, so much the better.
• Musical and other sound-producing toys: you can help your baby begin to understand cause and effect by saying 'Music!' or 'Squeak' when you or she produce the sounds musical toys
• Tickling and bouncing games: once your baby is giggling away, she'll love games that make her laugh. Try tickling, then waiting for her response, but be careful not to overdo it, as there's a fine boundary between gentle play and over-stimulation.
Bouncing her on your knee and lifting her into the air should also provoke peals of laughter, and your baby will get plenty of fun out of this simple entertainment.
• Toys that wobble: your baby wil start to enjoy batting things around this month, so weighted toys that wobble back and forth but don't actually fall over will not only amuse her, but will help with hand-eye coordination and muscle development.
• Activity mat: tummy time will be enhanced now that your baby is more able to pull herself up on to her forearms when lying on her front. You'll find a variety of mats with crinkle sounds and textures, bells, mirrors and Velcro. Show her how each part works and let her explore for herself.
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