5 months old: Emotional development

5 months old: Emotional development

Your baby’s emotional development at 5 months old. Follow your baby’s milestones step-by-step.

Emotional development allows children to understand, express, and manage their emotions as they grow. Children also develop the ability to recognize and interpret the emotions of others, which helps them build relationships with those around them.

Emotional development: 5 months old

At this age:

Remember that not all children develop the same skills at the same speed. The material on this website is for general information purposes only. If you’re concerned about your child’s development, speak with a doctor.
  • Your baby is expressing their emotions more clearly, and you’re better able to understand what they’re feeling based on their sounds and cries (e.g., hunger, pain, fear, frustration). Their expressions of happiness are more pronounced.
  • They may get sad or angry when their actions don’t have the expected result (e.g., a button doesn’t light up as usual when they press it).
  • They’re gradually learning to anticipate events. For example, if they’re agitated because they’re hungry, they may calm down when you pick them up to feed them.
  • Your baby will push someone away if they do something they don’t like (e.g., wipe their nose).
  • They cling to you when you hold them.
  • Your baby notices unfamiliar faces. For instance, when they meet a new person, they may watch them closely.

Over the next few weeks, your baby will begin to do the following:

  • Discover their tastes and preferences and communicate them to you by smiling, squealing, or crying.
  • Make sounds (e.g., grunt) when they’re angry.

How can you help your baby progress?

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. That said, you can help foster your baby’s development by adopting the Comfort, Play, and Teach parenting approach, which can easily be integrated into your daily routine. The table below outlines small, age-specific actions you can take that will benefit your child’s emotional development.

When you describe your baby’s emotions throughout the day,
they’re reassured by your calm, confident tone.
When your baby is afraid or clingy and you soothe them,
they understand that they’re safe with you, even in scary situations.
When you take advantage of everyday moments (e.g., feeding time, bath time, diaper changes) to bond with your baby by singing, playing, or tickling,
your baby enjoys these happy moments with you and learns that their actions can elicit reactions.
When you sing songs that involve actions, like “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and change your voice and facial expressions while singing,
your baby smiles, makes noise, or wiggles to express their interest and delight.
When you read your baby an illustrated book and describe the characters’ facial expressions and emotions,
you help your baby develop an interest in how people express and talk about their feelings.
When you use simple words to explain how other people are feeling,
your baby learns to be aware of the facial expressions and actions that convey emotion.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Chloé Gaumont, M.Sc., psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2020


Photo: GettyImages/kate_sept2004



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