Motor skills at 5 months

Every 5-month-old is different, and every 5-month-old’s motor skills probably have some unique quirks to go right along with those personality differences, but there are a few general guidelines for what your 5-month-old is probably ready to start doing in terms of motor skills. If your little one isn’t doing these things yet, he probably isn’t far from it. If he is already a pro at them, he is speeding ahead of the class.

What his motor skills might look like 

Though he is still a little ways away from the delicate precision of pincer grasp, when he will begin to be able to pick things up between his thumb and forefinger, Baby’s grasp is already getting more refined. At the beginning of the first month, he is probably just reaching out with his whole arm and grabbing for things with the pinkie side of his fingers, but by the time he starts moving closer to his sixth month, he is probably starting to use his thumb to grasp things, too.
As Baby’s fine motor skills chug along, getting stronger and stronger each day, there’s a good chance that, sometimes, these smaller skills get overshadowed by the bigger-looking advances of his gross motor skills – by month 5, Baby may be able to sit up on his own with waist and lower-back support. He may be rolling from his tummy to his back, or even from his back to his tummy, which can make parents worry, since safe sleep recommendations specify that babies should be put to bed on their backs.

The fact that Baby is able to roll onto his tummy on his own is good proof of his growing body control, though. As long as his sleeping space is still safely set up – without blankets, pillows, sheets, loose bedding, or soft toys, just a tightly-fitted sheet on a firm mattress – and he is put to bed on his back, he shouldn’t be at a heightened risk. In any case, around this time, the risk of SIDS, which back-sleeping is meant to decrease, drops significantly. 

These developments in gross motor skills are strong signs that Baby is getting closer and closer to being independently mobile, and his curiosity is growing with him, so be on the lookout – it might not be too long before Baby decides to go exploring!

What to do about it 

Toys like rattles, that make noise when Baby grabs them, and that he will want to be able to hold onto, are great for encouraging Baby’s fine motor skills at this point. Now that his grasp is evolving, it might be time to introduce him to the magic of art, too, with some carefully supervised time with washable, non-toxic markers or paints, if you’re up for getting a little messy together.

When it comes to Baby’s gross motor skills, as he gets closer and closer to independent mobility, the most important thing you can do to help him out is to make sure your home is safely baby-proofed enough that, when they does start moving around on his own, he can’t get into anything he really shouldn’t.

  • “Important Milestones: Your Baby at Six Months.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, January 21 2016. Web.
  • Heather Greutman. “Pencil Grasp Development for Writing.” Growing Hands-On Kids. Growing Hands-On Kids, September 28 2010. Web.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Infant development: Milestones from 4 to 6 months.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, July 2 2014. Web.
  • Raising Children Network. “4-5 months: baby development.” Raising Children. Raising Children, February 17 2016. Web.

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