Month 5: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 5 month old

Month 5: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 5 month old

Josh’s 5 month story:

The dew lifted from the track as the sun rays peeked over the Californian mountains. There was a buzz of energy in the air. I’m pretty sure I could smell rubber warming up before the big race. Such is the life of a race car driver.

Dad lowered me into a red Ferrari Enzo sporting purple tires and the famous NAS77Y license plate. This was the legendary plate dad always rumbled on about. The plate dad had on his sports car down under. I get to sport it now.

Ah! a rumble and a deep roar of V8 muscle I hear. The engine has started. It’s purring Iike a perfectly tuned musical instrument. My mind focuses, sharp and alert. This is it. It’s happening! I plant my foot down hard with a scream of ecstasy and then.. “Ma! What the?! This ain’t a real car!”..

Until next month… Lots of smiles, Josh

Josh in a car

What to expect from your 5 month old

By the 5th month your baby will be going through more transitions. Here are a few things that you may see your 5 month old do:

  • Your 5 month old may start sitting unsupported for a few seconds at a time.
  • They may be able to now roll in both directions.
  • Your baby’s fine motor skills are developing. Their grasp is getting stronger. They can pull objects closer and pick them up. They can move the objects from one hand to the other.
  • You may notice your baby start doing some rocking on their hands and knees. This is a very important skill that will help them get ready for crawling and scooting, even though this skill is still a few months away.
  •  Your baby is babbling away. They may even start making sounds like ‘ba-ba, ma-ma, da –da’. As exciting as it is unfortunately they still don’t understand their meaning. It may take a couple of months before they are directed at you.
  • Your baby’s vision is continuing to improve. They may start to move their eyes without turning their head. This is the beginning of visual tracking. Visual tracking involves the ability to follow moving objects with smooth, coordinated eye movements. This skill is important for future reading and writing skills.

Sensory activities for a Healthy Sensory Lifestyle

Whenever you want to have some fun with your baby, try the below activities. Through play your baby gets to experience different sensations, which help your baby’s development both mentally and physically.

Here are my top 10 sensory activities for the 5th month of your baby’s life. These activities have been tried and tested.

1. Treasure box surprise

Treasure box surprise

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Hand development and eye hand coordination. Visual, tactile and proprioceptive senses.

How to play:

Gather random items from around the home to create a baby treasure box. Make sure that you choose objects appropriate and safe for your baby’s age.

They can explore the box’s contents while sitting in your lap. As you explore the treasures, make sure to talk to your baby about them. What is it? What does it do? Is it heavy/light? What color is it? Is it soft/hard/smooth/spikey?

Through playing and exploring a variety of objects, you help your baby’s hand development. As they play and interact with objects they practice many important skills. They learn how to grasp, hold, move and release an object. Through exploring objects of different shapes, sizes and weight, your baby is starting to strengthen all those important hand muscles. This play also activates both tactile and proprioceptive senses. Choosing how hard or how soft to grab something without squishing it is part of the proprioceptive sense. It is a skill that they take many more months to master, however the foundations can be built now.

Tip: Ensure you use age appropriate and safe toys and objects as most of them will end up in your baby’s mouth. Watch out for choking hazards.

2. Sensory bag fun

Sensory bag

Sensory bags are easy to make, and so fun!  Children of all ages can enjoy them and even young babies can have lots of fun exploring and learning.

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Reaching, grasping and eye hand coordination. Visual and tactile senses.

How to play:

To get you started, you will need some ziplock bags, packing tape and any ingredients that you want to put inside. As a base you can use shampoo, conditioner, lotion, water or hair gel. You can add food coloring for variety. Then let your imagination run wild. You can add anything that you want. Glitter, water beads, flowers, shells, googly eyes, bugs, pom poms, squishy toys, beads and so on.

Once you have created your bag use the packing tape to tape all the corners to avoid any unnecessary mess.

Best way to explore is while your little one is enjoying some tummy time. They can also play with it while sitting in your lap.

Note: Make sure you supervise your little one at all times. Their fingernails or teeth could puncture the bag. Plastic can also pose a suffocation risk so make sure you supervise accordingly.

3. Floor play

Floor play at 5 months

Time spent playing on the floor gives your baby the opportunity to move around. Moving around helps to strengthen many important muscles around neck, shoulders and back. These are needed for rolling, crawling, sitting and walking.  It also helps to build their postural control and coordination that they need to move their bodies around in space.

They can lay around on their tummy or their back. You can spread a variety of toys around that they can explore. You can also help them practice their rolling skills. You can lay them on the carpet or a blanket. You can also provide them a variety of textures to grab and pull.

4. Fly away!

Flying high with daddy

As your baby explores floor play make sure you also get a chance to pick them up and make them move through the air.  Movement stimulates the development of the vestibular system. This system is responsible for the awareness of our body in space.

So hold your baby in your arms and explore different movements. Move them up and down, side to side, round and round. Bounce them and move slow and fast.

As you spin and move all around with your baby, make sure to stop and take a quick break every few minutes.  See how your baby is doing. The break will also let their body register the movements and ensure that they do not get over stimulated or tune out.

5. Little Piggy

Here is a fun way of incorporating the well known kids rhyme ‘This Little Piggy’.

Skills developed Targeted Senses
Body awareness (hands, fingers, feet and toes) Tactile and vestibular senses.

How to play:

Start with your baby’s toes. Have your baby lay on their back and hold up their legs so they can see their toes. As you hold and wiggle your baby’s big toe start saying the poem. Then continue with the second toe and so forth. Make sure you remember to tickle your baby at the end.

This little piggy went to the market (big toe),

This little piggy stayed home (second toe),

This little piggy had roast beef (third toe),

This little piggy had none (forth toe),

And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home (fifth toe and tickles).

Once your baby has had enough toe play you can repeat the same rhyme with the fingers on their hands.

 6. Ball pit fun

Ball pit fun

This is a great toy that can be used for many more months to come. If you decide to invest in purchasing balls for the ball pit, then there are a few different ways that you can play with them.

1.    Spread them out on the floor. Your baby can enjoy moving them around as he is laying on his tummy.

2.    Fill a baby swimming pool with the balls instead of the water. If you don’t have enough balls you can always use a laundry basket. Support your baby while they are sitting in it. This can bring on many giggles as they explore the balls.

Note: Make sure to ALWAYS supervise your baby while playing in the ball pit.

7. Eye spy

Skill development Targeted Senses
Visual tracking (Visual tracking involves the ability to follow moving objects with smooth, coordinated eye movements. This skill is important for future reading and writing skills) Visual and auditory senses

How to play:

Choose an object or a toy that will grab your baby’s attention. Something that makes noise when shaken is preferred. This can include a rattle or bells.

Lay your baby on their back. Hold the toy approximately 10 inches away from their eyes and shake it. Once your baby’s attention is on the toy move it to the right and then to the left. Move the toy slowly so it gives your baby enough time to follow the toy. Then return it back to the middle and repeat by moving the toy up and then down.

If your baby gets distracted bring the toy to the middle. Shake it and wait to grab their attention. The main goal of this activity is to practice your baby’s visual tracking skills. This means getting your baby’s eyes to move separately from their head. If you notice that your baby moves their whole head you can very gently support their head to prevent it from moving. If the gentle support is not enough then your baby is not ready for this activity yet. Take a break and try again in a few weeks.

After your baby practices following the toy, you can encourage them to grab it and explore and play with it.

8. Explore the outside

Time outside

You probably have noticed this activity coming up on regular basis. Spending time outside is essential for all ages. At 5 months your baby can also get many benefits from being outside. From going on a walk in a stroller your baby can now watch their surrounding. If the weather is warm enough you can lay them down on the grass and let them roll around and explore.

Depending where you live you can help those little hands and feet explore the sand, the water, or just simply dirt. Let them touch different flowers, trees, grab a leaf, some grass or some sticks. Just remember to supervise closely as they still don’t have much control and can poke themselves with that stick or put that leaf in their mouth.

It’s a great way to explore ALL their senses so get yourself ready and go explore the outside.

9. Music time

Babies love music. You can explore a variety of tunes with your 5 month old. Play all kinds of songs from classical to jazz to pop. You can move your baby around. You can help them clap or move their hands and feet in different directions. I’m sure you will see lots of smiling and maybe hear some babble.

Note: Don’t play music throughout the whole day. If you play music for an extended time your baby will start to block it out and get the idea that music is not important. Turn it on randomly for shorter periods throughout the day.

10. Tummy time

Tummy time at 5 months

Spending time on their tummy continues to be very beneficial. It helps your baby build coordination, strengthens your baby’s neck, shoulders, arms and trunk. These muscles help with motor skills such as rolling over, crawling, pulling self up and sitting up.

One play activity that encourages tummy time is by placing them tummy down on your chest. You can securely hold your baby under their arms. Then you can rock your body side to side to incorporate some fun movement (vestibular sense). Sing along to your baby to keep them entertained. Read more about Tummy Time  and how to incorporate it into play with your baby.

So there you have it – my top 10 Sensory Activities for your 5 month old that you can do today to help your child’s development.

These are just a few activities that are bound to spark other ideas. Just remember that every new sensory experience is helping your child’s growth and development.

Remember: Each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

For feedback or further questions please leave a comment below.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

❮ 4 month activities 6 month activities ❯
How to: Newborn Tummy Time

How to: Newborn Tummy Time

Tummy time… Some babies don’t mind it. Some babies have big issues with it. Either way you will find out clear and loud what preference your baby has. As an OT (Occupational Therapist), I have taught the technique outlined in this post to many new moms with great results. Their little bundle of joy turning into tolerable tummy explorers. The strategy takes time and effort. But it is doable with good patience and practice. The most important thing: Don’t give up!

Important

The sooner you start placing your baby on their tummy the easier it will be for your baby. Please consult with your doctor first to ensure that there is no medical restrictions. Once your baby is all clear go for it.

Josh playing with sensory balls

Laying the foundations through tummy time

Josh started tummy time from day one. The first time was when I placed him on my chest while still in hospital post birth. There is something special about that 1st moment. Looking in your little one’s eyes. I loved looking at him and seeing him trying to move to look into my eyes. Even if it was for a spilt second. It was an amazing bonding experience that I will cherish forever.

Why do tummy time?

This is an important activity for your baby. It helps to build coordination and strengthens your baby’s neck, shoulders, arms and trunk. These muscles help with motor skills such as: rolling over, crawling, pulling self up and sitting up.

Safety tips for tummy time:

  • Make sure your baby is alert and awake when on tummy.
  • Never leave your baby unattended when on tummy.
  • ALWAYS place your baby on their BACK when putting them down to SLEEP.

When to start & duration of tummy time?

The sooner you start the less likely they will dislike the activity. It is a learned habit. Furthermore, they will quickly become stronger. I started laying Josh (my son) on my chest while he was on his tummy from the day he was born.

If you are experiencing difficulties, start them slowly. Try not to stress! Take a breath and try again later. Then aim to increase the repetition to create a new habit.  It can be as short as few seconds at first. Watch them gain strength.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends beginning play on tummy from the first day back from the hospital while your baby is awake. Start 2 to 3 times each day for a short period of time (3-5minutes) and increasing the amount as they become stronger and enjoy the activity. AAP recommends working up to 40 to 60 minutes a day. The total time can be split into short sessions throughout the day.

When are you done with tummy time bambino? when your baby cries or rests their face on the surface, this is a sign they are done. Give him a break and come back to it later.

How to do tummy time?

There are many ways to practice tummy time. You can also grade them depending on their interest and strength. Try to incorporate tummy time into daily activities such as after changing a diaper or after bath time when you are drying your baby.

Here’s a few ways to do this:

  • Laying him down on your chest. This is the easiest way to get your newborn used to tummy time. While you are in a reclined position place your baby on your chest. You can then entertain him by talking or making funny sounds or faces.
    Newborn Josh laying on mom's chest
  • Lying sideways. If your newborn struggles with tolerating tummy time you can try lying them sideways. When you place them on their side, make sure to provide back support with your hand or a rolled up blanket. Also make sure that both of his arms are in front of him, with their hips and knees slightly bent.
  • While burping your baby you can try laying him across your lap on his tummy.
  • Use of a bolster. This will provide extra support. Roll up a thin towel to make a bolster and place it under your baby’s chest.

Tummy time Positioning: Position his arms over the bolster and hands stretching out in front. Baby’s chin should always be positioned in front of the bolster so that the airway is not blocked. Always supervise!

  • Placing your baby on a flat and firm surface. While your baby is hanging out on the floor, entertain them. This will motivate them to stay on their tummies for longer. You can try some of these entertainment strategies:
    • Go down to their level.
    • Sing to them or make funny noises/sounds or faces.
    • Place a small baby proof mirror in front of them so they can look at their reflection. Josh looking at a mirror - sensory lifestyle style
    • Present them with different toys, rattles, puppets (one of Josh’s favorites).
    • If you notice your baby gets bored, change the toy and show them something new.
    • Use other siblings or your partner as a distraction.
  • Tactile tummy time. Explore textures with them. Try different textured blankets your baby can explore by moving their hands and legs over it.
    Tactile tummy time on a blanket
  • Reaching skills while on tummy.
    • Hold a toy or a favorable object in front to get his attention. This will encourage your baby to lift his head and reach.
    • Place toys around your baby to encourage reaching in different directions. Sensory lifestyle play time on tummy
  • Exercise ball & tummy time. Do this once their neck gets a bit stronger and they have a better control over their head. Place their tummy over the ball facing away from you. Hold your baby at the hips for stability and gently roll the ball back and forward.

Here is a video I am happy to share with you which illustrates some of the activities I mentioned above. This is through Pathways.org, Five essential tummy time moves.

So there you have it. I hope these tips make it easier for you to paractice tummy time with your little bundle of joy. If you need more help or not sure how to do a tummy time activity outlined above, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

Have fun playing!

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