Raising a child and that too for the first time is exciting as well as challenging. As parents, you learn a lot along with your child. Constant strife towards learning and unlearning makes it an enriching journey.
The growth of a child refers to physical changes in height, weight, and other body changes. As well as emotional and social changes. Changes like hair growth, teething, variation in height and weight and puberty are all a part of the physical growth process. Whereas, changes in moods, thoughts and behaviour are a part of the emotional and social growth process.
It is important to keep a check on the way your child is growing as it may give an indication to an underlying medical condition. However, not all children grow in the same manner or at the same pace. So if you feel your child’s height is less than his/ her classmates or if your child is crawling before your neighbour’s child, it may just be a different growth rate. Here are a few things you need to observe at every stage of your child’s growth:
Birth to 1 year: This is a stage where your baby grows at a rapid pace. From the time of birth your baby’s weight triples in one year. At birth, an average baby is about 50 cm tall and grows to about 76 cm within a year (approximately 26 cm). An infant undergoes regular check-ups and the doctor constantly monitors the parameters of height, weight and head size. By measuring these three parameters, the doctor determines the pattern of your baby’s growth. If any of the parameters falls off the limits, the paediatrician takes a step to investigate the underlying cause.
In the first year, the baby goes from being a sleepy baby to interacting with parents and people in close contact with the baby. Drastic emotional changes are seen in the first year as they form a close bond with parents or caregivers. The baby slowly starts getting aware of its surroundings and the people around. They may get a feeling of jealousy when they witness parents holding another child. It is perfectly normal as it is a process of emotional growth.
Age 1 to 3 years: In this stage, the growth of your child slows down and continues at a steady pace. Your child grows to around 20 cms in height and weighs around 14 kgs. The frequency of checkups with the doctor also reduces in this phase. The measurements of the head become less significant and the doctor starts monitoring BMI (Body Mass Index) of the child to monitor the balance between height and weight.
When the baby starts walking, the emotional journey ramps up even more. They start exploring the things around them and curious about things. They also may start throwing tantrums (at age 2, infamous ‘terrible twos’ kicks in). Around this time, it is important for the parents to teach them that not everything the child demands can be fulfilled. They also start speaking due to which they express better.
Age 4 to 9 years: In this phase, the height and weight continue to grow steadily. The doctor monitors BMI in this phase too. If the growth in the phase is exceptionally slow, it may be due to an imbalance in hormones. The children grow by around 5 cm to 7.5 cm per year during this stage.
During this phase, the child becomes independent and social. It is now that parents need to instil morals and values to develop a personality. In this phase, the child may struggle in coping up with school and other issues. It is important for the parents to provide encouragement and teach them to learn from their mistakes.
Age 10 to 16: This phase is also known as puberty and is the second biggest growth spurt in children after infancy. The growth rate of girls and boys slightly differs here, with girls growing faster than boys. Girls grow 23 cm to 28 cm in height from age 10 to 14, whereas boys grow from 26 to 28 cm in height from age 10 to 16. There are a number of other physical changes in their body, which makes them awkward at this stage. The doctor monitors height and weight during this phase too.
This is a challenging phase for parents as well as the children. They hit adolescence and finally puberty during which they undergo a radical emotional and social change. They may showcase multiple mood swings, sensitivity and self-consciousness. They may want nothing to do with parents and are more comfortable with their friends. At the end of teenage, their mood swings and temper calms down and the emotional turmoil comes to a stable phase. Their relationships strengthen during this time
Although parents may be worried about where their child stands in the growth chart, it is completely fine to have your child at the bottom of the growth chart. It is vital to monitor the growth rate to evaluate the development of your child. Here is what a parent can do to ensure normal growth and development of your child:
Nutrition: A balanced diet consisting of an appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals can help your child reach his/ her potential for growth.
Sleep: Each child should get an appropriate amount of rest as growth hormone is normally released during sleep. Each child may have different patterns of sleep but ensuring 10 to 12 hours of sleep until 10 years of age and 8 hours beyond that is vital.
Regular exercise: For all stages, it is vital to balance the weight child’s height. It is important for children to be active and exercise regularly to avoid obesity. A sport or activity can help them stay fit and grow at a good pace. It also gives a boost to self-confidence and nurtures values like team-spirit, leadership and sportsmanship naturally.
Healthy communication: A healthy communication environment, where the child feels safe in expressing his/ her thoughts is key to good emotional and overall development. Create a home environment such that the child feels comfortable in sharing feelings, thoughts and experiences.
Giggles by Omni Hospitals, Visakhapatnam is an exceptional institute for women and child care. We have the best experts in the field who ensure that your child is provided with world-class treatment and guidance. With state-of-the-art technology and skilled staff, your child is in safe hands.