Baby Calendar Month 5Baby Development
Baby is starting to stretch out now, and not always curled up in that fetal position anymore. The newborn reflexes are beginning to disappear little by little, and more definite and less shaky movements are observed. When playing, you may notice the baby is now not merely grasping a toy, but beginning to experiment with letting go as well. While on his back, baby may arch his back and even twist a bit from side to side. All these movements are preparing baby for new skills, such as rolling over.
While baby still enjoys mouthing and sucking on her hands and feet, she might start interacting in new ways with her toys, such as pushing at those dangling before her, or batting at them. Also, baby's neck muscles are getting stronger, allowing baby to support his head while on his tummy for a few moments, or while in the car seat or in a front carrier. You might even glimpse your little one turning her head from side to side on occasion now. Expect baby to lift her head up to a 45 degree angle, although not for long periods yet. Practice time is needed for all these emerging skills to be refined, and practice time is as simple as playing on tummy, or lifting baby by the grasping fists, carefully, while seated. Using an engaging voice, or a captivating toy will add some spice to the "practice sessions."
Perhaps the most exciting development for parents will be the emergence of baby's first true social smile. The first time you might think, it was just an accident or baby was exercising her facial muscles or was grandma right? Was that just gas? But soon it will return, in all its toothless glory and there will be no mistaking it. Your baby's first smiles! Nothing gets a parent running for the camera quicker than those earliest grins. Consider it a bonus for all the attention and care you have given to your little one. It's so rewarding to play with your child and finally see the joy expressed in that little face, and returned to you.
At month four you can consider whether you think baby is ready for solid foods yet. Don't feel rushed, breast milk or formula supplies everything baby needs until 6 months of age. However, some infants are ready sooner than others to eat solids. If food allergies run in the family, it's best to put off solids until the 6 month mark. To determine if your infant is up for the next stage of feeding, look for readiness signs.
- Does your baby hold his head up steadily now?
- Can baby sit supported well?
- Does baby seem nearly hypnotized when watching you eat?
- If your baby watches you so intently that you feel guilty eating in front of her then she's showing readiness for solids.
- Does baby still have the tongue-thrust reflex?
- You can tell when you present a spoon to baby, if the reflex is still strong, baby will automatically push her tongue out, moving the spoon away. If that is the case, hold off on solids awhile longer.
If your baby seems ready, continue breast or bottle feeding as normal and just add solids a little at a time to the diet. You might want to discuss adding solids at baby's fourth month well-baby check.
However, in general to start a baby on solid foods, begin by introducing a single-grain baby cereal usually rice. Add 4 to 5 teaspoons of breastmilk or formula to a single teaspoon of cereal. It will be runny, but use a spoon not a bottle. If baby takes the cereal well, gradually add less and less liquid to the cereal. If baby doesn't take to the cereal well, then wait a couple weeks and try it again. There's really no rush. Your baby is doing fine with breastmilk or formula.
While you most likely will not be seeing the pediatrician this month, you might have a few health concerns. Feeding issues have not changed much, expect to perhaps become more routine. Expect to feed baby 6 to 8 times a day, approximately 2 to 5 ounces at a time if bottle feeding, and having six wet diapers a day and a content baby is a good indication everything is as it should be.
Sometimes about this time, babies will develop cradle cap. While kind of yucky, and a little bothersome, it is really nothing to fuss over. Just use a mild baby shampoo every day and a soft brush. If that doesn't work, talk to the doctor who might recommend a stronger shampoo or even hydrocortisone. Rest assured, it is not permanent, though.
A more serious condition might crop up around now, and that is postpartum depression. While the baby blues should be ending by now, PPD could really be taking hold. If you have lost all desire to participate in life, feel cut off, or your emotions don't seem in synch with your life, you experience anger at things you would not normally, or feel flat and emotionless, you should speak to a physician immediately. It does not mean you are an unfit parent. Hormones can set off a true depression that will not go away on its own. Don't try to soldier on and not tell anyone how you are feeling. Get help quickly and you will be glad you did. It is more common than most women think, affecting up to 10 percent of new moms, and there are effective treatments available.
Here is a quick list of possible symptoms of postpartum depression:
- Loss of appetite
- Intense emotional responses/irritability
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Loss of interest in things once important, including sex
- Lack of joy
- Guilt or shame troubling you
- Withdrawal from family and friend
- Difficulty bonding with baby
- Thoughts of harming self or baby
Not all symptoms are necessary to be diagnosed with postpartum depression. If your quality of life is diminished by any of the symptoms, get help right away. Treatments may include counseling, antidepressants, hormones, and lifestyle adjustments, such as getting some help at home and caring for your sleep and diet carefully.
Typically, treatment will only take a few months to be successful, but some cases persist for up to a year. It is vital that therapy/treatment be continued and not stopped as soon as the patient begins to feel better. Treatment stopped abruptly will likely lead to a relapse.
Tips for Mom and Dad
While most new parents will not experience the full-fledged difficulties of postpartum depression, the baby blues is quite common, and the pressures are probably less visible now that the baby routines are in place. Help has likely disappeared, as have those tasty meals dropped over by friends and family. You are on your own more and more now. To keep stress levels manageable, take positive steps to keep yourselves individuals, a couple, and a family. Insist on some family traditions. Have a regular meal time. Mom might have a regular night out with friends. Maybe Dad has a monthly barbeque/poker night. Keep those private time outs to provide for outlets outside Mom/Dad time, to continue feeling like a whole person and not just an appendage of the baby. By the same note, have some couple traditions, particularly a planned date night. Schedule it, plan it, and don't neglect it. A happy couple is the foundation for your family. Finally, family time fun is always important. While a gurgling infant may not be ready for mini-golf outings or arcade nights, baby will enjoy a regular walk in the park, or a starlight drive in the country. The important thing is making the time, and making it a regular part of life.
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