When your baby gets to 5 months old, it feels as though they’ve always been a part of your life. But your little one is still so young at this point and listening to their needs is essential.
Now could be the time to start introducing a more stable routine but you have to consider your baby’s ever-changing needs. At this age, most babies still need around 12 to 16 hours of sleep each day. That means fitting those naps around other basic needs like feeding, social interaction, and playtime.
No matter what your parenting style is, we know that you just want the best for your bundle of joy. In this guide, we’ll look at the best 5-month-old baby routine to help you and your little one make the most of this magical age.
The aim of this article is to provide you with realistic information on setting a suitable routine for a 5-month-old baby. Here’s what we’ll cover;
How much sleep your five-month-old baby needs and when to put them down for a nap.
Sleep training and what to expect.
How often and how much to feed your five-month-old.
Other important 5-month milestones.
How Much Sleep Does A 5 Month Old Baby Need?
One of the first things that a lot of new parents consider when trying to establish a routine for their baby is how many naps they need and how long the baby should be sleeping. Of course, when your little one is dozing, it gives you a chance to catch up on some much-needed rest too!
At 5 months old, babies sleep for between 12 and 16 hours a day. Each child is different and may have a different number of naps than another baby you know. It’s important never to compare your child to someone else’s.
That said, you should find that, by now, your baby will have between two and three naps throughout the day. At night time, a lot of babies will be going through their nighttime sleep, only waking once. If you’re really lucky, they might even allow you a full night sleep but if they aren’t, don’t worry. They will sleep through the night when they are ready.
The key with sleep at five months old is to listen to your baby’s unique needs. One baby’s sleep schedule may be different from the next so there’s no cut and dry. If your child appears to be sleepy an hour before their scheduled nap time, let them sleep. Keeping them awake just to stay on schedule is only going to be miserable for you both.
When your baby is awake and alert, you’ll usually have plenty of time to interact with them. Children at this age will normally manage a couple, or maybe even three hours of awake time before they start to tire.
Do I Need To Start Sleep Training My 5-Month-Old Baby?
Sleep training is where you start to teach your baby to fall asleep independently. This can be a challenging time for new parents as your little one may be extremely used to having you close by or even holding them as they fall to sleep.
If you don’t start sleep training now, you’re certainly not going to end up with a 16 year old child that’s still reliant on having their head stroked in order to fall asleep. However, now is a good time to help your baby learn that they can sleep without your presence.
The worst thing you can do is to try to force any changes. It’s super important to let your baby set the schedule. While they are young, they know their own needs; just like when you and I realize that we’re tired, so does your baby. Instead of trying to stop them from having a short nap at 7 pm, allow them to do this otherwise you risk throwing them out of their natural rhythm and that’s only going to make sleep training even more difficult.
One of the best tips for establishing a sleep schedule through training is to make sure that your baby has enough daytime sleep. Some parents make the mistake of thinking that too much daytime sleep will prevent their child from falling asleep at night, but this is not the case.
It is possible for a baby to become overtired and overstimulated which then makes any kind of bedtime routine an impossibility. You have to be patient when sleep training and take things day by day. Eventually, your baby will fall into a nice bedtime routine and should, with help, learn to fall asleep on their own.
Try to show your baby the difference between day and night by keeping lighting low and noise to a minimum during night feeds. As your baby starts to fall to sleep with you rocking them or having some sort of physical contact, put them down before they actually drift off. For the first few nights, you will probably need to remain close by but they’ll eventually get the hang of dropping off alone.
Also, keep in mind that one of the most common baby struggles for parents working on nighttime routines is sleep regressions. It is very normal for sleep regressions to happen but stick to your plan and listen to your baby and they will overcome this and get back to their normal sleep times.
How Often Should I Feed My 5-Month-Old Baby?
If you are breastfeeding your baby then you’ll likely have built a very solid feeding schedule based on your baby’s needs. However, if you are unsure then it is recommended by Infant Nutrition and Feeding that a five-month-old should be having around five breastfeeding sessions each day.
But as with their sleep patterns, it is essential to listen to your baby and go with the flow. If your child is trying to let you know that they’re hungry then it’s a good idea to just feed them on demand. A lot of babies will feed more often if they aren’t feeling well (they’ll sometimes feed less too) or when they are going through a growth spurt.
Bottle-fed babies should be treated largely the same, with mom and dad listening to their child’s cues and feeding when required. Down the line, especially when you introduce your baby to solid foods, you will have a better chance of setting down a solid routine.
A lot of parents become tempted to introduce solids at five months because their baby is still waking for night feeds. But try to hold off until six months as most babies aren’t quite ready for these additional nutritional needs. At five months, make sure that your bottle-fed baby is having between 180ml to 240ml at each feed. This will normally be across five to six bottles with three to four-hour intervals.
Does My Baby Need A Dream Feed?
A dream feed is a formula feeding or breastfeeding session that happens late at night. Usually around 10 pm or 11 pm while the baby is sleeping. The idea behind this that by rousing the baby and giving them an extra feed, it will encourage them to sleep for longer. But does this actually work?
In truth, a dream feed by itself probably isn’t going to do much for sleep help on its own. It might help your baby to sleep for a little longer but the very best way to encourage healthy sleep habits is to have a good routine in place. By all means use a dream feed at your bedtime if you’d like to try and get an extra hour or two but don’t be tempted to use this as your go to method for good sleep.
Other Things To Consider For Your 5-Month-Old Baby Routine
For babies at this age, there really isn’t too much going on; by that, I mean that their needs are still very basic. It’s largely a case of eat, play, sleep and repeat! By now, you will have learned to listen to your little one’s hunger cues and when they need a nap. Your daily routine should be somewhat set in stone but with a little wriggle room for a more flexible schedule. because your child is still so young.
But when it comes to planning your day with a five-month-old, there are a few other things to take into consideration. This is a time that your child will be learning new skills and going through an important stage in their development. As such, your routine will have to include activities to stimulate and entertain them. It’s not like when they were a newborn and the only real interaction was cuddles and bright colors.
Set aside a few times throughout the day for tummy time. You’re encouraged to do this right from the word go but your baby’s age now dictates that they will start learning to move their body.
Many babies will start trying to raise their chests off the floor and some might even attempt to start dragging themselves along or begin rolling over. Although, if this does not happen at five months, don’t worry as it’s typically something that will come down the line.
Make sure that, when you initiate tummy time, your baby is awake and alert and not due for a nap or a feed as they may not be as receptive to the activity if they’re in any way uncomfortable.
At this age, babies are developing their fine motor skills so including play in their daily routine is essential. It might appear to you as though they are merely passing a toy between their hands but this is a major part of their development.
Sensory play is super important so try things like blowing bubbles and using noisy toys. Giving your baby the opportunity to explore different textures is also important and a play mat is a brilliant way to achieve this.
Your baby may not seem as though they understand a lot at five months old but you’d be amazed at just how much attention they’re paying to what’s going on around them. The world is a new and exciting place and now is a fantastic time to further bond with your child.
Singing songs and nursery rhymes will be a comfort to your little one as well as helping them to learn language. You might also read books to your baby with simple learning such as colors, numbers, or parts of the body. For many parents, this can seem a little strange as a five-month-old isn’t going to suddenly start repeating everything you’ve said. But it is proven that this type of interaction at such a young age is beneficial in the child’s overall development.
At five months old, babies are beginning to become a lot more aware and are constantly learning. It is, therefore, incredibly important to make sure that you fit everything they need into each 24-hour period.
One of the most important things is to ensure that you pay close attention to what your baby is telling you. By listening to them, you’ll get to recognize their hunger cues and when they’re in need of a nap.
Normally, babies at this age need two to three naps a day as well as one or two large periods of sleep at night. In total, they need between 12 to 16 hours of sleep each day with awake time between two and three hours. During these wake windows, you’ll need to ensure aqequate feeding and playtime. But as long as you have a fairly stable eat, play, sleep routine, you won’t go far wrong.