Congratulations! You have reached a major milestone on the birth of your baby…
Both you and your newborn are now ready to go another milestone. From the time your baby is born, you will be very keen on how he or she develops and will watch every move she makes for the next change. However, you will be wonderfully surprised at how your baby grows during their first year. It will be an interesting journey of smiles, fun and surprises. Get ready and enjoy it.
Tracking Baby’s Growth
From your very first return well-visit after birth, your doctor will start to record and track your baby’s growth. He will measure the circumference of your baby’s head to determine the size, determine how tall she has grown, and how much weight gained. The doctor will track these improvements against a growth chart for a normal baby. As he records these numbers, he is able to determine if your baby is growing normally – whether her height and weight are normal, if she is developing on track, or whether any health problems are affecting her growth. Let him show you the baby’s chart and you should be able to see how she is growing against the normal chart. If you are not sure about the chart, ask him to explain. He will more than likely relieve any fears you have about how your baby is progressing.
Baby Growth First Month of Life
Your baby has started her first week of life. At birth she may be all wrinkly, and a bit chafed and red from squeezing through the birth canal, with a big head, short neck and an extended torso. She seems hard to handle and you fear she may get damaged if you do not hold her carefully. In the first week her eyes are blurry and she can only see 10 – 15 inches away. Your baby may only interact with you when it is time to feed as she sleeps constantly. Their head may appear elongated and squashed in, and a soft spot is on top of his or her head.
But you will discover that her first few weeks will be the time when she will grow the fastest. Breastfed babies will eat about 8 times in 24 hours. By the end of four weeks she has stretched by 1 to ½ inches or 2.5 to 2.8 centimeters in length. She has also gained 1 – 2 pounds and is more pleasing to hold. The remainder of the umbilical cord will fall off by the end of the second week. Of course her doctor will start to track her growth on a growth chart from her very first well-visit. If there are problems in how your baby is developing, the doctor will pick this up from early.
Baby Growth 2 – 6 Months
During these following months, your baby maintains the same growth pattern as in the first. It is actually a period of rapid growth. You may notice that your baby is extra fussy at some points and may want to eat more or more frequently. She may be demanding her feed every hour. When this happens she could be experiencing what is called a growth spurt which is temporary each time it occurs. It is just an indication that development and growth is taking place and therefore the need for more food to fuel this. Babies will exhibit this behavior when they are at different stages – rolling, crawling and walking. Growth spurts tend to occur at 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. If baby remains fussy however, consult her pediatrician. The doctor will want to know if she is getting enough to eat. He will ask how often she feeds, the amount she takes at each feed, and the nature of her bowel movements.
As your baby grows he gets more adorable. You will get her first smile early and you will feel that it is all worth it. She can see more clearly and she has passed from black and white to color mode. Therefore she will follow and want to touch a variety of colorful objects and shapes. At 3 months her neck and other muscles are significantly stronger, and she is making every effort now to be mobile. You and she will be surprised at where she will roll. She can hold her head up without help and she is responding to you with gurgles, and coos.
By 5 months she has doubled her birth weight. Her stomach has gotten bigger, she takes more milk at her feed and therefore will eat less frequently, say 4 -5 times per day. She has become more expressive also, as she can receive and give hugs and kisses. She is able to lift her arms for to be taken up. By 6 months, she is able to sit unassisted for short periods. She is also blowing bubbles and making rasping sounds. This is normal and she is only preparing herself to talk.
Baby Growth 7 – 12 Months
At this age your baby continues to grow in size, physical skills, and her ability to interact with the world. During this stretch she will likely grow at a rate of 3/8 of an inch or 1 centimeter each month. By the end of her first year also, your baby would have tripled her birth weight. She could put on 3 – 5 ounces per week, about 85 to 140 grams. She will have all the right to be more active, seeking to explore her environment and shaping up to be a handful.
As your baby grows she is taking on new skills. At this stage she is able to sit up without support. She will start crawling around, reaching for objects and trying to find out what you are doing. Her muscles are more coordinated and she can grasp and use the objects she holds. All the new skills that she is learning are going to be important in her transition from breast milk to eating solid foods. By her seventh month she is ready to explore new tastes and textures in her food. By the time she reaches her first year, she is walking with stronger muscles to hold herself upright.
Supporting Your Baby’s Growth
There is no turning back to the growth of your child except where there are developmental problems that are few and between. As your baby grows there are things that you can do to foster her growth and activities.
Keep her active – Engage her in activities to encourage her movement. For example, give her tummy time, when she can stretch for objects, make eye contact and roll around. Provide objects to grasp and play with. These will help to develop muscle coordination.
Let her rest – Your baby will need a lot of rest. Lots of growth occurs during sleep also. She will give the cues when she needs to sleep so don’t miss these.
Ensure she eats properly – At every stage of development, your child will need a balanced meal to support the growth of healthy cells and tissues.
Observe her growth – You need to be keen on how your child progresses. Do not ignore any issue, and bring it to the attention of your doctor where you are concerned.
Your baby has transitioned from her newborn stage and you both are loving it. At one year however, another milestone has begun and you should be ready for this.