Baby's Growth And Development
Intelligent care of a baby is based partly on knowledge of
the development that he/she can be expected to make in the
first year or more. The various concepts given are merely
averages. Many normal babies differ widely from them.
The rate of growth is rapid during the first few years. But
it is vastly slower than prenatal growth, and is actually
slowing down progressively from birth to maturity. An
average baby will double his birth weight in six months,
and triple it in a year. Thirty inches and 212 pounds are
the average height and weight for a one year-old.
Thirty-three inches and 26 pounds are about right for a
baby two years old. During the first six months, body
proportions remain about the same. During the next 18
months, the legs grow rapidly, and the head and trunk grow
more slowly, so that at two years of age the height of the
head is about one-fifth of the standing height.
The head of a newborn baby is very large compared to the
rest of their body. For example, compared to the baby's
total length of about 20 inches, the length of the head
measures approximately 5 inches...which equals one-fourth
of the total length.
There are four pieces of bone that make up the skull. These
pieces are flexible. This is so that they can move slightly
while the baby is being forced down the birth canal. The
four skull bones will not join until the baby is about 18
months old. The area between the "pieces", at the top of
the baby's head is called the fontanel, or the "soft spot".
The flexibility of the skull gives the baby protection form
concussion caused by bumps or falls.
The baby's brain grows very rapidly at first. The part of
the brain controlling posture and balance develops rapidly
during the baby's first year of life. The weight of the
brain at birth is about one-fourth of its adult weight.
Within two years, the brain has reached three-fourths of
its final weight.
Babies are able to see at birth. Primarily, they notice
movement. Also, research shows that newborn babies are best
able to see an object that is between 5 and 18 inches away.
Also, newborns are extremely sensitive to bright lights.
Therefore, a baby may open his or her eyes in a dimly
lighted room more comfortably than in a room with bright
Babies have very good hearing. They often startle easily
and will cry when they hear loud noises. I remember when my
little sister was born, she liked to have songs sung to her
and she would quite down when music started. It has been
proven that babies must be able to hear in order to develop
At birth, the baby's heart is relatively large. The heart
doubles in size during the first year, but it grows more
slowly during the second year.
Arms and Hands
At birth, a baby has virtually no control of their arms and
hands. The baby automatically grips objects tightly, for
example, a pencil or a finger. Most babies are not able to
open their hands freely until they reach 3 months.
Babies first grasp objects in the palm of the hand with a
whole-hand movement. It takes many months before they can
pick up an object with the thumb and forefinger.
Legs and Feet
Legs and feet are the most helpless of the baby's body
parts. To begin with, the legs are drawn up in the prenatal
position. Legs also make automatic creeping or swimming
motions. The legs and feet are the last body parts to be
controlled by the infant. For example, a baby sits alone
and grasps objects with his or her hands long before
learning to walk.
The main part of the body is called the trunk. The trunk
will double and redouble in size several times before a
baby reaches adulthood. In newborns, the control of the
trunk must wait until the brain matures. After about 3
months, control of the head and spine begins. By 5 months,
the baby can usually sit up with some help and by 14
months, most babies are walking.
The entire process of growth and development is called
maturation. Most of the development and growth described
throughout this project happens as the baby increases in
age. Physical maturation cannot be taught to a child. A
baby cannot be taught to sit or to stand before muscles
develop. These skills are relevant only after the baby's
muscles have matured. Nature has set a general time for
each child's muscles to mature, making it possible for
children to accomplish skills.
In the following chart, skills that are generally
accomplished at certain ages through a baby's developing
months as well as the physical components of growth,
involving large muscle control, small muscle control,
seeing, eating, sleeping, and hearing are summarized.
The First Year Growth
At 3 months, a baby is alert and responding to the world:
* When put on his/her tummy, he/she can hold her chest and
head up for 10 sec.
* He/she tries to swipe at toys hung over the crib.
* He/she turns her head toward an interesting sound or
listens to voices.
* Loves to stare at people's faces.
* He/she coos and gurgles
* Height-23.5 inches *Weight-12.5 pounds
At 6 months, he/she is developing control over his/her body.
* He/she can sit with support and may sit alone for short
periods of time.
* He/she can roll over
* He/she will hold out his/her arms to be lifted up or
reach and grab an object.
* He/she can hold his/her own bottle and toys
.* He/she laughs out loud, babbles, "calls" for help and
screams when annoyed.
* Height-26 inches
At 9 months, he/she is exploring her environment.
* He/she can sit unassisted, crawl, pull to a stand and
side-step along furniture.
* He/she can use his/her fingers to point, poke, and grasp
* He/she feeds herself finger foods
* He/she knows her name and responds to simple commands
* He/she uses "jargon"-babbling a pattern as if she were
speaking a foreign language.
* Height-27.5 inches
At 1 year, he/she is striving for independence.
* He/she stands and may walk by him/herself.
* He/she climbs up and down stairs and out of the crib or
* He/she prefers using one hand over the other and can
drop and throw toys.
* He/she fears strange people and places.
* He/she remembers events, expresses affection, shows
emotions, uses trial and error to solve a problem.
* Height-29.5 inches