How your baby's growing
Your baby now sees and hears the world almost as well as you do. Her communication skills are expanding rapidly, too, as evidenced by her squeals, bubbling sounds, and operatic octave changes. Her sounds can demonstrate her attitude or response to objects – such as happiness, eagerness, or even satisfaction with a problem well solved.
At this age, about half of babies babble, repeating one syllable – such as ba, ma, ga, or other consonant-vowel combinations – over and over. A few will even add another syllable or two, making their sounds more complex.
You can encourage your baby by babbling right back at her and making a game of it ("The sheep says, 'baaa,'" or "The goat says, 'maaa'"). Or, when you hear a syllable you can't identify, just respond enthusiastically with something like, "Yes, that is a car! See how shiny the red paint is?" Your baby will appreciate your keeping the conversation going.
- Learn more fascinating facts about your 5-month-old's development.
Your life: Coping without enough sleep
When sleep deprivation is a way of life, it can be hard to function. Friends or co-workers who aren't baby-wrangling may have little idea of what you're up against. You need a three-pronged approach:
1. More sleep for your baby
At this age, most babies are capable of sleeping through the night (meaning five or six hours at a stretch). If yours doesn't do so, you might take a look at various sleep-training methods and pick one that's right for your family. Check out our baby sleep solutions articles for ideas.
2. More sleep for you
Try a few of these tricks:
- Take a short nap during your break time at work or during your baby's nap time if you're home.
- Simplify or delegate some daily chores so you can get a break.
- Go to bed early and let your partner put the baby down for the evening.
- Establish a consistent sleep-wake cycle. Try to wake up and get to sleep at the same times every day.
3. Good-quality sleep when you do rest
Some ideas for getting the most out of your zz's:
- Talk to your doctor about herbal remedies and over-the-counter sleep aids if you have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes a few nights' rest is all you need to reset your body clock.
- Make your bedroom sleep-friendly. Keep work and chores off the bed (and, ideally, out of the room). Make sure your mattress is comfortable – if you've had it for eight to ten years, it may be time for a newer, firmer one. Adjust the light, temperature, and noise in your bedroom to your liking. In general, the darker, cooler, and quieter it is, the better.
- Relax before bedtime so you can nod off faster and sleep more soundly. Ways to unwind include drinking warm milk, practicing yoga, stretching, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, taking a bath, and getting a massage.
- Take care of yourself in other ways. Eat nutritious meals and light snacks, avoid caffeine late in the day, and exercise regularly. Try to get your most difficult or tiring work done early in the day, and wind down as the day goes on.
Learn about: Vaccinations
What vaccines should I expect at the 6-month checkup?
The doctor will probably recommend giving your baby the Hep B, DTaP, PCV, Hib, and rotavirus vaccines. The Hep B vaccine (or HBV) protects against the virus that causes hepatitis B; the DTaP vaccine protects against the viruses that cause diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough); the PCV (pneumococcal vaccine) protects against the cause of bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections; the Hib vaccine protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria (which can also cause bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, or epiglottitis); and the rotavirus oral vaccine protects against a virus that causes the stomach flu. In addition, if your visit falls during flu season, your baby may receive the influenza vaccine.
How can I make getting shots less traumatic for my baby?
Ask whether you can hold your baby in your lap, rather than having him lie on the examining table. Stay calm and distract him by speaking to him in an engaging, soothing voice. Your baby will pick up on your tone and your body language. Offer your baby a bottle, breast, or pacifier afterward to soothe crying via sucking. There's some evidence that breastfeeding a baby during an immunization, if feasible, results in less crying and distress. Generally, though, shots are more traumatic for the parent than the baby, who tends to get over the pinch quickly.
My baby is big and healthy now – does he really need vaccines?
The shots your baby has received so far don't offer complete protection. Many vaccines are given in a series over time in order to provide full immunity. Immunizations protect against many diseases that once killed or maimed thousands of children. The risks of not being immunized far outweigh the relatively slight risks of a vaccination, which can include irritability, fever, redness at the site, and crying. More serious reactions, such as seizures and allergic reactions, are very rare. Watch your baby carefully after he's been immunized and report anything more serious than minor reactions to the doctor.
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