The life of a 5 month old is totally different to just a few short months ago, and just before the 5 month mark, or somewhere between 18-20 babies usually go through a developmental leap, which can cause chaos on routines … and life in general.
As babies enter the fifth month parents are often wondering, what should their day look like now?
It’s totally normal for babies to have their days disrupted as they go through physical growth spurts or mental developmental leaps and when they come out of them it can be hard to know what ‘normal’ is supposed to be.
So, what does a 5 months old’s day look like?
The average 5 month old:
- Will be awake for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes between naps
- Will have 3-4 naps per day
- Can usually go around 4 hours between feeds (although some babies never make this milestone, and that’s okay)
- Will sleep for 12 hours overnight, usually with a dream feed or one waking
Examples of 4 Different Routines
Awake Time 1 hour 45 minutes Time Between Feeds 4 hours Naps Per Day 3
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Awake Time 2 hours Time Between Feeds 3 and a half hours Naps Per Day 5 (45 minute napper)
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Awake Time 2 hours Time Between Feeds 4 hours Naps Per Day 3
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Awake Time 2 hours Time Between Feeds 4 hourly breastfeeds + introducing solids Naps Per Day 3
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The biggest problem at the 5 month mark – increased night wakings
A common problem that commences about the 5 month mark is increased night wakings. Your little one was all of a sudden sleeping beautifully without waking, but now they’re up again at night, and you don’t know why. Here are the most common reasons.
He/she is hungry
It’s funny that younger babies can often sleep through the night without a feed, but as they grow they start waking up hungry again. A 5 month old is getting big enough that they’re body almost needs solids to keep its energy needs up (infact, quite a few 5 month olds have already started solids). If your baby is waking at night after a period of sleeping through, you should consider adding a dream feed to your routine if you haven’t already. Babies who have dream feeds consistently sleep longer without disruption than those who don’t. It seems counter productive to wake your baby to feed them, but after about a week they will start taking the feed in their sleep, without waking at all. (It can take up to a week to get this working right, so don’t expect miracles on the first night if your baby has never had a dream feed before).
If you already do a dream feed, try getting more calories in during the day. This could mean allowing longer feed times to get more in, or doing a top up before bed time. If you still can’t work out how to get more food in, perhaps talk to your doctor or child health nurse about starting solids.
The morning wake time is too long
The shortest wake time of the day will be the first one. Again, this seems counter intuitive (shouldn’t babies wake up with lots of energy in the morning?) but sometimes even 5 month olds needs to go back down for a nap after only an hour and a half awake. If you try and stretch this wake time you will end up with an over tired baby, and over tired babies have trouble settling into solid and health sleep patterns. This will effect day time sleep, but most noticeable is the effect on night time sleep and increased overnight wakings.
Try reducing this awake time in ten minute increments and see how you go. If you look closely, I bet you’ll even see early tired signs that you have discounted in the past because it seems to early to put them back down. Infact, a lot of sleep problems that occur in the ninth and tenth month can be attributed to long morning awake times that started getting extended at the fifth month. So, if in doubt, keep it short!
Photo by JK Califf