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5-month-old baby sleep guide

By Cradlewise Staff

Dr. Anoop Rao
Medically Reviewed

Night sleep

Daytime naps

Total sleep

11-12 hours

2.5-3.5 hours

14.5 hours

At five months old, your baby is a far cry from that tiny peanut you met as a newborn. They’re growing, moving, babbling and expressing themself in many ways. One of the cool things about five-month-old babies is how they’re starting to use their senses and their emerging motor skills simultaneously. In the past, your little one might have sucked reflexively on any pacifier you offered; now, you’ll see them reaching for their favorite rubber giraffe from a pile of several toys, bringing it to their mouth, and chomping down. This simple act symbolizes an inner world that’s constantly changing and developing.

You’re probably getting pretty comfortable with your five-month-old’s daily routines, but things like teething, colds, growth spurts and maybe even a new wariness towards strangers might still throw things off course once in a while, though Cradlewise is always in your corner to help you cope with challenges. Read on for research-backed information about five-month-old babies.

Five-month-old baby milestones for sleep

One key five-month-old baby milestone for sleep is that overnight zzzs are continuing to increase. (Woohoo!) A study in Pediatrics found that nearly three out of four five-month-old children slept from 12 am to 5 am. Over half snoozed between 10 pm and 6 am, which is when many adults like to sleep. Sure, the numbers for the 10 am to 6 pm stretch could have been better, but things are definitely looking brighter when it comes to getting more rest.

A physical five-month-old milestone that affects sleep is rolling over, which many children start to do around this time. Many caregivers, especially grandparents who raised children during a time when “back to sleep” was not the required safety standard, might be asking, “Can five-month-old babies sleep on their tummy?” 

The short answer is that you should always put your baby down to sleep on their back. Rolling over doesn’t typically present a safety issue because most babies typically learn to roll from stomach to back first. If your child can easily move in both directions, you don’t need to worry about flipping them back over, but if your baby can only roll from back to stomach, speak to your pediatrician to devise a plan (this might mean room-sharing for a bit). 

Crib Notes

You can convert your Cradlewise from bassinet to crib if your child is able to push up on hands and knees or at six months of age—whichever comes first.

What’s going on in your baby’s brain? 

5-month-old baby sleeping with music on

Your baby’s biological rhythms for sleeping and waking up are continuing to mature. That means parents and caregivers can start using the clock to help guide their child’s schedule, rather than only considering wake windows (although those can still be helpful as well). As these rhythms start to solidify, your baby will be spending more time in light sleep than they did during the first three months, so you may need to lean on tools like Cradlewise’s white, pink, and brown noise options. (Studies have shown that babies who are exposed to white noise fall asleep more quickly than those who aren’t, though it’s important to keep the volume at a safe level, which is less than 50 decibels as recommended by the AAP.)

Another nice result of brain development is that your baby’s hand-eye coordination is improving, so you’ll likely see them picking up objects and bringing them directly to their mouths. For this reason, it’s important to babyproof your home and keep an eye on them at all times, unless they’re in a safe space like their Cradlewise.

How much should a five-month-old sleep?

Sleeping clock for 5-month-old baby

  • Total hours of sleep: 14.5 hours
  • Wake windows: 2 to 3 hours
  • Number of naps: 2 or 3

Curious about many naps for a five-month-old? This will vary for every baby, but it’s usually two or three spaced across the day. Assuming a 7 am wakeup time, it might mean naps at 9 am and 1 pm, and bedtime between 6 pm and 8 pm (though for many babies, 8 pm is too late). Some babies may also need a third nap to fortify them until bedtime, but the timing of this varies, and they may not need it each day. If your baby sleeps for a longer period overnight, it might mean their daytime naps are shorter, and the reverse is true as well. Some babies may also be able to stay awake for as long as 3.5 hours during the day.

Sample five-month-old sleep schedule

This will be primarily guided by your baby’s wake-up time, which is influenced by bedtime. Many sleep experts believe that for both, leaning toward early rather than late is most optimal based on babies’ natural rhythms.

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Five-month-old feeding tips

Breast milk or formula is continuing to be your little one’s primary source of nutrition. You probably have a good handle on whether or not your baby is eating enough to be satisfied and making the correct number of wet diapers with pale, mild-smelling urine (that’s still around six each day), but as always, call your doctor immediately if you have concerns.

  • How much should a 5-month-old eat: Five-month-old babies usually consume between five and seven ounces of breast milk or formula each time they eat. If you’re Googling “how much baby food for a five-month-old,” keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting to start solid food until around six months old.
  • How much should a 5-month-old weigh: By five months, it’s possible your baby may have doubled their birth weight, but not necessarily (you can expect this by six months). During these few weeks, your baby will likely pack on another 1.25 pounds (560 grams) and grow .8 inches (or 2 centimeters).
  • How often should a 5-month-old eat: The AAP recommends that babies continue to eat every three to four hours, though they might be able to go longer stretches overnight. Marc Weissbluth, M.D. writes in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Fifth Edition that after your baby turns four months old, as a general rule you shouldn’t feed them more than twice overnight.
  • Tip: If you’re wondering if you can start your five-month-old on solids, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a list of signs they might be ready. They include sitting with or without support, having good head and neck control, opening the mouth when the spoon is offered and swallowing (rather than pushing food back out).

How to help support your baby’s sleep during the fifth month

5-month-old baby playing with a ball

Time sleep training right.

If you’re choosing to sleep train your baby at five months (and not all parents do), try to choose a period when you’ll be the one home in the evenings for several consecutive nights. You’ll also want to steer clear of doing it during times like vacations or anything else that might disrupt sleep patterns, like starting at a new daycare.

Be flexible.

Although your baby’s schedule may be more predictable these days, it’s still important to watch their cues carefully. Even if your baby is usually asleep by 7:15pm, for example, on some nights they might be ready even earlier, like if they’re recovering from a cold or had a busy day with shorter naps.

Keep early mornings boring.

Some five-month-olds still wake up at 4 or 5am for a feeding. If this happens, try your best to encourage them to go back to sleep (Cradlewise can assist!), since waking up too early can throw off their nap schedule and subsequent bedtime. Speak quietly, keep the lights low and avoid playing with them or doing anything too stimulating.

Wake up your baby (really!).

Has your baby gotten into the habit of sleeping until 9am? Some research shows that babies with earlier bedtimes have fewer night wakings. To try and shift the pattern, you might try waking your baby around 7am for a few days in a row to encourage a first nap by mid-morning and an earlier bedtime.

Shop for playtime.

As your baby grows, it might be time to overhaul their toy storage bins. Good toys for five month olds include ones that help them strengthen their fine motor skills, such as soft balls, items with unusual textures or age-appropriate musical instruments (make sure there are no loose pieces). Transparent rattles or similar see-through toys will help them start to understand cause and effect (the pieces inside cause the sound). Babies this age are still fascinated by faces, so try showing them a plastic mirror or a board book featuring clear, real-life photos of people.

What to do with a five-month-old baby all day?

Activities for a five-month-old might include spending time on their play mat to practice rocking on their stomach and kicking their arms and legs, and these skills will help them become experts at rolling over. If the weather is nice, you can also bring them outside for short stretches to explore, or read to them, which will help encourage early language skills and hopefully pave the way for a lifelong love of books.

Sources: 

  1. Emerging motor skills for four- to seven-month olds. 2021. 2019. American Academy of Pediatrics: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child from Birth to Age Five, Seventh Edition
  2. When do children sleep through the night? 2010. Pediatrics. Sleeping Through the Night: The Consolidation of Self-Regulated Sleep Across the First Year of Life
  3. Rolling over and infant sleep. 2020. Tips for Keeping Infants Safe During Sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics
  4. Getting ready to roll over. 2021. HealthyChildren.org. Movement Milestones: Babies 4 to 7 Months.
  5. Reading and language. 2019. Nemours Kids Health. Reading books to babies.
  6. Use of clock to guide sleep. 2021. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Fifth Edition.
  7. Sleep needs for a five-month-old. 2021. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Fifth Edition.
  8. Baby feeding frequency. 2022. HealthyChildren.org. How often and how much should your baby eat? 
  9. When to introduce solids. 2021. Centers for Disease Control. When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods.
  10. Weight and five-month-olds. 2019. Nemours Kids Health. Your baby’s growth: 5 months.
  11. Signs of readiness for solid food. 2021. Centers for Disease Control. When, What, and How to Introduce Solid Foods.
  12. Waking baby to encourage earlier bedtime. 2021. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Fifth Edition.
  13. Age-appropriate toys for five-month-olds. 2021. HealthyChildren.org. Movement Milestones: Babies 4 to 7 Months.
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