27 June 2006

The fifth month

Look what lies ahead for parent and baby this month.


What we will look at

  • What your baby can do
  • Teething
  • What about cow’s milk?
  • Cot death
  • What you can do to help your child

What your baby can do

  • Lifts head up 90 degrees when on stomach
  • Demonstrates the ability to grasp objects
  • Holds head up more steadily
  • Enjoys "peek-a-boo" games
  • Can bear weight on legs
  • Coos when you talk to him/her
  • Laughs out loud

Is my baby teething?
A baby’s first tooth can arrive as early as three months, but the average age is seven months. What are the signs that your child may be teething?

  • Drooling
  • Cough – due to increased saliva
  • Chin or face rash
  • Biting
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Refusal to feed
  • Irritability
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Ear pulling

Tip: give your baby frozen bananas to chew on. The cold will numb the gums.

What about cow’s milk?
Don’t give your baby cow’s milk during the first year. Cow’s milk doesn’t contain enough vitamins and iron and is difficult to digest.

Cot death – every parent’s nightmare
Cot death is the sudden and unexpected death of a baby for no obvious reason. It is also called sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It is the most common kind of death in babies under one year. To date, we still don’t know what the causes are.

How can you reduce the chances of it happening?

  • “Put your baby on the back to sleep”. The prone (face down) sleeping position should be avoided; from birth infants should be put to sleep on their sides or back, unless there are specific indications against this. Sleeping on their backs appears to be preferable to side sleeping, because of the greater likelihood of the infant rolling face down when on the side.
  • “Make sure your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep and avoid overheating and tight wrapping”.
  • “Keep your baby smoke free – before birth and after”. Mothers should be warned of the dangers of smoking and drug taking.
  • “Cover the mattress with polythene sheeting”. Many new mattresses are fitted with such covering; used mattresses should be wrapped in a sheet of thick polythene (125 microns) which is folded and taped underneath. The evidence for toxic gases is still incomplete, but the practice has been shown to be safe, and is recommended in the UK and New Zealand. The best underblanket to use on a wrapped mattress is fleecy cotton.
  • "You should sleep in the same room as your baby". To lessen the risk of cot death it may be safer for the infant to sleep in the parent’s room. “For babies to endure increasingly long periods of solitude after birth is biologically unreasonable”.
  • It would also seem entirely reasonable biologically for the young infant to sleep in close proximity to its mother, and perhaps this is actually protective. The evidence suggests that there may be potential benefits to bed sharing which cannot be overlooked. This aspect requires further study in communities where co-sleeping is common.

Read more about cot death. What you can do to help your child

  • Point out and name objects
  • Take him for a walk in a pram – now that he can be propped up in a sitting position, he would enjoy exploring the environment
  • Rock your baby and dance around the room with her to strengthen her neck
  • Help your child to become aware of her toes by putting them into her mouth
  • Invest in a baby gym which has objects your baby can hit, pull, squeeze and swing
  • Buy bath toys
  • Introduce your baby to strangers

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