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Ready to roll

The fifth month is an adventurous one in the life of a baby. He will discover for himself, as 5-month-old René Pouteau (below) is doing, that he can turn over, move around on his own and generally take a more active part in the life that surrounds him. It is from this age on that the baby begins to put his muscles, strengthened by earlier exercises (SI, May 2 et seq.), to more purposeful use. These exercises are designed to guide the 5-month-old toward his next important goals of rolling and crawling and, in the weeks to come, sitting and standing.

Back arch stretches baby's chest, shoulder muscles, allows lungs to expand. Hold baby's arms, and gently raise his chest off floor. Hold five seconds, then lower. Do three times.

Elbow stand strengthens shoulder and arm muscles. Arrange baby's arms so he rests on elbows, grasp hips and raise entire body. Hold a few seconds, lower. Do three times.

Half roll helps prepare baby for big moment when he will turn over on his own. Let baby grip your finger. Pull baby onto side, then let him roll back. Do three each side.

Chinning tests as well as strengthens baby's arm and neck muscles. Secure baby's grip on your fingers and pull up gently. Baby will help chin himself. Repeat three times.

Foot and leg stretch aids strong, flexible feet and ankles. Hold baby's leg firmly. Gently push ball of foot upward to full stretch, then push instep down. Five each side.