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

What their motor skills might look like 

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