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, she probably isn’t far from it. If she is already a pro at them, she is speeding ahead of the class.

What her motor skills might look like 

Though she is still a little ways away from the delicate precision of pincer grasp, when she will begin to be able to pick things up between her thumb and forefinger, Baby’s grasp is already getting more refined. At the beginning of the first month, she is probably just reaching out with her whole arm and grabbing for things with the pinkie side of her fingers, but by the time she starts moving closer to her sixth month, she is probably starting to use her 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 her gross motor skills – by month 5, Baby may be able to sit up on her own with waist and lower-back support. She may be rolling from her tummy to her back, or even from her back to her 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 her tummy on her own is good proof of her growing body control, though. As long as her 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 she is put to bed on her back, she 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 her curiosity is growing with her, 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 she will want to be able to hold onto, are great for encouraging Baby’s fine motor skills at this point. Now that her grasp is evolving, it might be time to introduce her 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 she gets closer and closer to independent mobility, the most important thing you can do to help her out is to make sure your home is safely baby-proofed enough that, when they does start moving around on her own, she can’t get into anything she 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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