Care of the baby: The fifth month
What he should weigh, how he should play, thumb-sucking
by Dr Emelyn L Coolidge
Av normal baby five months old generally doubles his birth weight at this time. He is now a bright, lively little person and may be allowed to sit in a semi-upright position in his baby carriage or even in a chair, for a short time each day.
When sitting in a chair be sure to have him tied in carefully and place a soft pad or pillow at his back to give him a little support. He will enjoy exercising a little on the bed or in a large clothes basket gently, and may even have a few simple toys, one at a time, io play with. Let him amuse himself with these, and do not tire his brain by shaking rattles and such things at him. He will enjoy the toy twice as much if he is allowed to discover their attractions for himself.
The baby’s naps now grow gradually shorter, but he ehould take two a day; a long one of two or three hours In the morning and a shorter one of about an hour in the early afternoon. If allowed to sleep very late in the afternoon, he will not be so apt to sleep as well at night. He now laughs out loud and often very heartily.
At this time the flow of saliva usually becomes very much increased, and the baby “drools.” This is a sign that the teeth are beginning to attempt to push their way through the gums. Baby will bite his finger and put everything he can get hold of into his mouth. If the child has never had the thumb sucking habit, be careful that he does not form it now. Should he show a tendency to do it, put a small bag on his hand or dip his thumb in a solution of quinine or aloes.
A piece of cardboard bound on the arm, and long enough to reach a little above and below the elbow so that the arm cannot be bent, will often prove an effective means of preventing thumb sucking when other methods fail. The habit of thumb sucking is not only an ugly one, but it spoils the shape of the mouth and finger.
A special cracker is now made in the form of a ring; it is quite hard and is composed largely of malt sugar and is intended for teething babies to bite on. As they can get very little, if anything, off of it, such a cracker will do no harm and may be given to the baby in preference to ivory or rubber rings, which often do more harm than good by hardening the gums and so making it more difficult for the teeth to push their way through them.
If the baby “drools” much, he is apt to quickly wet through any little bib he may wear, and so take cold by having damp clothing next to his chest. A material now made, which is waterproof but not so heavy as rubber and without the odor rubber is apt to have, may be very useful at this time. If a piece of it is cut the shape of the bib and bound with tape, it may then be worn underneath the bib and prevent the clothing from becoming wet.