Age: 5 Years

Going to school is the major milestone for 5 year-olds. It is a time of great excitement, fear, and change for many 5 year-olds. Every child demonstrates different levels of school readiness. In addition to formal education, children learn important social skills.


  1. Car: Whether you are using a convertible car seat (this is the big, heavy, 5 point harness style seat) or a backed booster in the back seat of the vehicle entirely depends on the seat you have and the size of your child.

    1. Important Note: As of 11/2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children stay in the most restrictive seat possible until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. This replaces the previous recommendation of moving to a booster at 4 years and 40 lb.

    2. A small 5 year-old (or if you have a large convertible seat) will still be in a 5 point harness convertible seat at this age. If your child is large, he or she should be in a backed booster seat that utilizes the seat belt for restraint.

  2. Strangers: Teach stranger safety (e.g., never opening the door to strangers, getting in stranger’s cars, etc.). Identify who your child can consider a safe adult should he or she get lost.

  3. Emergency Numbers: Teach your child emergency phone numbers (e.g., 911).

  4. Playground: Teach playground/street safety.

  5. Smoking: Make sure your home and cars are smoke-free zones. Also, check smoke alarms to ensure that they work properly, and change batteries annually.

  6. Water: Teach your child to swim. Do not allow children to swim unattended. Use sunscreen.

  7. Helmets: Wear a helmet on all things a kid can ride (e.g., bicycles, scooters, ATVs, etc.).

  8. Guns: Lock guns with ammunition separate and in a gun safe. (Disturbing Fact: More children are killed from guns every year than are intruders.)

  9. Hazards: Keep matches, cleaners, chemicals, and toxic household products out of reach. (TIP: Post poison control’s number near your phone: 1-800-222-1222.)


  1. Provide 3 meals and 2-3 nutritious snacks a day.

  2. Limit the number of fats and sweets your child gets in a day. In addition, you child does not need juice, it is essentially fruit sugar. If you choose to give it to your child, do so in limited quantities (e.g., 4 oz a day). There is no place for soft drinks/soda in a child’s diet.

  3. You choose the menu. Offering good nutrition at an early age builds good lifetime eating habits. Consider the fact that you’re fueling your child’s growing brain. As a society, we are propagating this notion of “kid food” (e.g., mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, French fries, chicken nuggets). These have very little nutritional value. Offer a variety of foods rich in fruits and vegetables. Also try to include foods rich in protein.

  4. Dairy products should be low fat. This includes all milk (unless your child is failing to thrive and you are directed to do otherwise by your pediatrician). All members over the age of 2 in a family should be drinking low fat milk. Maximum amount is 24 oz/day. If your child isn’t a big milk drinker, just ensure your child is getting enough calcium and vitamin D from other sources (e.g., almond milk, milk products, supplements, etc.)

  5. Eat meals as a family (around a table with no media). Not only does eating together as a family develop good nutritional habits, it has multiple lasting effects on the social support of a family.

  6. Model good eating habits.

  7. Keep in mind it is very difficult to eat healthy when eating out (especially at fast food restaurants).

  8. Give a multivitamin daily only if your child is not eating a balanced diet.


Children this age need 10-13 hours of sleep at night. If your child is cranky or falling asleep during the day then he/she is probably not getting enough sleep at night. Try gradually moving bedtime a little earlier.


  1. Copies a square or triangle

  2. Can count on fingers

  3. Draws a person with a head, body, arms, and legs

  4. Recognizes letters of the alphabet and can print some

  5. Plays make-believe

  6. Can get dressed without help

  7. Knows address and phone number

  8. May be able to skip

  9. Speech should be 100% understandable without articulation difficulties


  1. Continue to brush and floss teeth twice a day.

  2. Schedule an appointment to see a dentist every 6 months.

  3. Fluoride supplementation depends on the level of fluoride in the drinking water in the city where you live (your pediatrician or dentist can prescribe it if needed).

  4. If your child sucks his or her thumb or fingers, now is the time to gently intervene.


  1. Media Exposure: Limit total media time (e.g., TV, movies, video games) to no more than1 hour a day of high quality material. Watch programs together so you know what information your child is receiving.

  2. Sexual Education: Expect normal curiosity. Use correct terms. Answer questions frankly. Teach that certain body parts (those covered by a bathing suit) are private and should never be touched without the child’s permission.

  3. Social Interactions: Praise your child for accomplishments. Encourage your child to talk about feelings and experiences at school and with friends. Provide opportunities for your child to interact with other children. Help your child to resolve conflicts without anger.

  4. Learning Experiences: Read together. Visit libraries, parks, museums.

  5. Discipline: Set limits. Be consistent. Ensure your child knows the house rules (e.g., bedtime rules, respect for others). Teach natural consequences for unacceptable behavior.

  6. Chores: Give your child some age appropriate chores and household responsibilities (e.g., help set the table, keep own room clean, put away laundry, etc.).

  7. School: Meet with your child’s teacher, tour the school together, become involved with school.


Treat fever and minor illnesses at home as long as your child looks and acts ok. Bring your child to the doctor if: symptoms are severe or prolonged (e.g., fever beyond 5 days, bad cough, etc.), your child has signs of dehydration, your child reports specific symptoms (e.g., sore throat, hurt arm, etc.), your child has difficult or labored breathing, your child is lethargic, or you are concerned.


Your child’s next well child check is in 1 year. If all vaccines are up to date, your child should not need any shots aside from an annual flu shot at the next visit.

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