Your Baby Week Twenty Three

1
A Day in the Life of a Five-Month-Old

Mother on floor playing with baby
Your five month old baby will be much more awake now and ready to play for longer periods of time. Photo © Nancy R. Cohen/Getty Images

Reviewing a day in the life of an average five-month-old baby may help you with your own baby's routines.

Baby's Morning

Our baby's day starts at about 7:30 a.m. After a good night's sleep, she is up, hungry, and ready to eat. She nurses for about 10 minutes and is then awake and alert for a while.

By about 9:00 a.m., she is already getting sleepy and goes down for her first nap, which lasts about one and a half hours.

She is up again at 10:30 a.m., nurses again, and then is awake for about three hours. This is when we do some tummy time, spend some time in her Rainforest Jumperoo or Baby Bumpo, or run errands.

Afternoon Routine

By 1:30 p.m., she is ready to breastfeed again and then take her second nap. This is her longest nap of the day, and it often lasts about three hours.

She is up again at 4:30 p.m., nurses, and is awake for a few hours. This offers another opportunity for tummy time, a bath (if it is bath day), and more play time.

By 5:30 p.m., she may take a short 30- to 60-minute nap.

Early Evening and Bedtime

She is usually up in the early evening until 7:30 or 8:00 p.m., when she breastfeeds for the last time. She then goes to bed by about 8:30 p.m.

Although she had been sleeping through the night for about six weeks, she did begin waking up for a feeding at about 1:30 a.m. a few weeks ago. This must have just been a growth spurt, as she is now sleeping through the night again.

Tips on Your Baby's Routine

  • try to stick to your baby's routine as much as possible
  • be prepared to be flexible sometimes, like if your baby gets tired earlier than usual or wakes up and seems hungry
  • be aware that some five-month-olds may be on different routines, including eating baby food once or twice a day, napping more often, or eating at night

2
Baby's Sleep Problems

Mother kissing baby's cheek
By two or three months, it can be a good idea to try and start putting your baby to sleep while she is drowsy but still awake, instead of letting her fall asleep while you are feeding, rocking, or holding her. Photo © Nancy Louie

Your Baby's Sleep

At five months, the average baby gets about 11 ½ to 14 hours of sleep a day, including about 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours overnight. She will likely also take two or three naps, totaling another 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours of sleep during the day.

Some babies do begin to sleep through the night by the time they are about three to four months old. By five to six months, most babies are sleeping through the night.

Sleeping Through the Night

Like the timing of sitting up and rolling over, sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone that your baby has to meet. So the fact that your five-month-old still wakes up once to eat can be normal.

On the other hand, if your baby is still waking up two or three times a night, he may have a sleep problem that you can work to improve.

Fixing Your Baby's Sleep Problems

The best way to fix your baby's sleep problems is to work on your bedtime routine and teach your baby to fall asleep on his own. This usually means falling asleep without rocking, nursing, or drinking a bottle. You can still do all of those things, just move them to a little earlier in your bedtime routine and put your baby down in his crib while he is drowsy but still awake.

Next, be consistent and try to do all of the same things, in the same way, at the same time each evening.

If your baby doesn't settle down after a few minutes, try to comfort him quickly and put him back down before he falls asleep. He should eventually learn to fall asleep on his own and comfort himself back to sleep if he wakes up at night.

Sleep Parenting Books

For extra help, in addition to advice from your pediatrician, you can often work to fix your baby's sleep problems by reading a parenting sleep book, such as:

  • The No Cry Sleep Solution
  • Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Ferber
  • AAP Guide to Your Child's Sleep

3
Organic Baby Foods

Jars of baby food
If you choose to, you can buy organic baby food or organic foods to make your own baby food for your baby. Photo © Digital Vision/Getty Images

Organic baby foods containing fruits and vegetables are made from produce that's grown without conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, etc. Organic baby foods with meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that don't receive any growth hormones or antibiotics.

Cost of Going Organic

Organic baby food is typically more expensive than regular baby food. Some examples include:

  • Earth's Best Organic Apple & Banana - $1.05
  • Beech-Nut Stage 2 Good Morning - Peaches - Oatmeal & Bananas - $0.69
  • Gerber 2nd Foods - Organic Butternut Squash & Corn - $1.95 (2-Pack)
  • Gerber 2nd Foods Baby Food - Banana Apples - $1.39 (2-Pack)

Organic baby food can cost almost 40 to 50% more than regular baby food.

Is Organic Better?

With the general popularity of organic foods, it is not surprising that these organic baby foods are now available. But are these organic baby foods more nutritious or safer for your baby?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "there is no evidence that organic, natural, or health foods are any more nutritious or taste better than regular foods." And the U.S. Department of Agriculture "makes no claims that organically produced food is safer" either.

Organic foods can contain fewer pesticide residues than foods grown using traditional methods, but there is also no evidence that makes them safer for your baby.

But if it makes you feel better to feed your baby organic foods, and you don't mind the price difference, then there are a wide variety of organic baby foods to select from.

You can also make homemade baby food using organically grown fruits and vegetables, but again, those organic foods will likely be more expensive than conventionally grown foods.

Sources

 

AAP. Guide to Your Child's Nutrition.

USDA. Organic Food Standards and Labels: The Facts.

4
Baby Food Safety

Baby sitting in high chair with food jars on tray
Experts typically recommend that you not feed your baby directly from the baby food jar. Photo © Jules Frazier/Getty Images

Parents are often aware that they should take steps to keep their family safe from food poisoning by practicing basic food safety tips, including:

  • washing hands before eating and preparing meals
  • not cross-contaminating foods, utensils, washcloths, cutting boards, counters, or plates, etc.
  • washing fruits and vegetables under running water
  • refrigerating or freezing leftovers within two hours of preparing them
  • cooking foods to a safe temperature, which is usually at least 160 degrees for ground beef, 180 degrees for a whole chicken, and 165 degrees for leftovers
  • making sure your refrigerator stays at 40 degrees or lower to keep leftovers and ready-to-eat foods safe
  • checking expiration dates on foods
  • checking for food recalls

Many of these basic food safety tips, plus a few more, also apply to baby food, especially when you are making homemade baby food.

Jar Baby Food Safety

Baby food seems like it should be one of the safest and easiest things to feed your baby -- just open the jar and get going, right?

It is almost that easy.

First off, when you open a jar of baby food, make sure the safety button in the lid actually pops open, or that the foil or plastic seal is intact before you crack it. Next, put a portion of the baby food into a small dish and feed your baby from this dish. That way, you can refrigerate the unused portion of baby food in its original container for one or two days, until your baby finishes it.

Homemade Baby Food Safety

In addition to the basic food safety tips outlined above, remember that there are foods to avoid feeding your baby, including honey (botulism), egg whites (allergies), and beets, carrots, collard greens, spinach, and turnips (nitrates).

5
Your Baby's Growth

In your baby's first few weeks and months, she was gaining weight fairly quickly.

Then, she was likely gaining about half and ounce to a full ounce each day.

All of that weight gain has likely helped her reach a point so that she is about double her birth weight now that she's five months old. So if she was born at seven pounds, she probably weighs about 14 pounds today.

At this point, her growth will slow a little bit. In fact, by the time she is one year old, this same baby will probably only triple her birth weight. That means that she will be about 21 pounds on her first birthday.

Other general guidelines for typical growth for babies in their first few years include:

Weight Gain

  • 3 months: Gains about one pound a month
  • 5 months: Doubles birth weight
  • 1 year: Triples birth weight, then gains about half a pound each month
  • 2 years: Quadruples birth weight, then gains about four to five pounds each year

Height

  • 1 to 12 months: Grows about 10 inches in length
  • 1 to 2 years: Grows about five inches
  • 2 to 3 years: Grows about three and a half inches a year most children will double their birth height by three to four years of age

Remember that these are simply general guidelines. Your child may grow a little more or a little less than this each year. If you have concerns about your child's growth, especially if you think that he has failure to thrive (poor weight gain) or short stature (poor growth in height), be sure to talk with your pediatrician.

6
Urinary Tract Infections

It is often confusing for parents when their infant has a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Diagnosing a UTI

After all, a baby can't complain of typical UTI symptoms, such as painful urination, and you can't really tell if she is having accidents. Instead, infants with a UTI may just have fever, irritability, vomiting, and urine that may have an odor. In fact, an unexplained fever with no other symptoms at all may be the only symptom of your child's UTI.

The other complicating factor when it is suspected that an infant might have a UTI is that she typically can't urinate in a sterile cup to give you a urine sample to send for testing. Instead, your pediatrician will likely have to insert a small catheter into your baby's bladder to get a urine sample.

UTI Treatments

Treating a UTI isn't too confusing. Your baby will likely just need ten days of an oral antibiotic. Sometimes, if your baby has a high fever or is very irritable and your pediatrician suspects that she may also have a kidney infection (pyelonephritis), she may need intravenous antibiotics in the hospital.

Either way, what happens after a child is treated for the UTI can again confuse parents.

Most experts believe that children who have a UTI are at risk for having vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), a condition in which urine flows backwards, from the bladder back to the kidneys. This puts an infant at risk for kidney infection and kidney damage.

To see if an infant with a UTI has this type of reflux, a renal sonogram and voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) may be performed to examine the kidneys and urinary tract.

Fortunately, most children outgrow their VUR over several years. Those who don't can have it repaired using a classic open surgical procedure or a newer Deflux endoscopic procedure.

7
Changing Pediatricians

Doctor listening to baby's heartbeat
A new pediatrician may have a different philosophy, style, or may be more available, making a change a good idea for your family. Photo © Photodisc/Getty Images

Parents use a lot of different methods when choosing a pediatrician for their baby.

Some ask for recommendations from their friends or their obstetrician, then interview multiple pediatricians before making a choice.

Others simply use the pediatrician who is on call in the hospital when their baby is born, choose someone from their insurance plan, or pick a name out of the phone book.

Whatever method you used may leave you feeling like you should have done a little more homework if you don't like your current pediatrician.

While most parents like to think that they are looking for a good pediatrician, you are mostly looking for a pediatrician who is good for you and your family. And that often comes down to how well your personalities fit together.

Changing Pediatricians

Although you may sometimes need to change pediatricians because you feel like your child isn't getting good care, it will more often be because of something about your doctor's style that you don't like. Maybe he is too informal, doesn't support things you want to do, or just doesn't seem very available when your child is sick. Or, perhaps there's something about your pediatrician's staff, waiting times, or billing department that you don't like.

Whatever it is, if you like most things about your pediatrician, you might consider talking to your pediatrician or someone in his office before making the switch.

Choosing a New Pediatrician

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your child's care be uninterrupted, so changing pediatricians multiple times is likely not a good idea. It may also leave you with a disrupted immunization schedule and make it harder to track your child's growth and development over time. That can make it important to find a better fit for you and your child when you choose your new pediatrician.

Continue Reading