Taking your baby to the clinic in their first year is a must, but it’s also important to understand why you’re doing so. At the clinic, the doctors measure your baby’s growth to check if their growth is normal and inform you immediately if it’s not.
This is done by means of percentile. It might sound like a very math related term, but it’s quite easy to understand. It means that your baby is compared to other babies of their age in terms of average growth and size.
If your child falls in the 90th percentile on the weight chart, it means they weigh more than 90% of the children their age. The charts are different for boys and girls, as boys grow faster and more than girls.
1. Weight gain
All babies grow at different paces and rates. It may not always be a cause to panic if your child isn’t growing as fast as other babies their age. A lot of other factors are considered to measure your child’s growth, including the pattern of growth spurts, their level of interaction with parents and so on.
The rule that most doctors go by is that by the fourth month, most babies weigh double than they did when they were born. As they approach their first birthday, babies tend to weigh triple of their birth weight.
Another observation most doctors have made is that if your baby was born on the larger side, maybe because both parents have larger body frames, they tend to have a slower growth rate than most other babies. Similarly, if your child was born on the lighter side, they tend to catch up during their first year.
2. Head Circumference
Apart from height and weight, doctors use the head circumference of babies as another measure of their development. The measurement is taken along the largest circumference, which lies above the ear and over the eyebrows.
Head circumference is taken as a measure of brain development. If your child’s head isn’t growing fast enough, it could be a sign of a brain defect. If it’s growing too fast, it could be due to extra fluids in the brain that can cause damage to the skull.
However, it is again important to remember that the head size can be genetic in nature.
The head size mapping occurs only in the first year because the head generally stops growing in size after the first year.
Apart from the genes, babies mostly grow at an average of 10 inches during their first year. Post this, their height growth rate slows to about 2.5 inches per year till the age of 18 years.
Since all babies tend to squirm when laid on a flat surface, it’s very important that these measurements are taken correctly for accurate mapping.
This is a very basic understanding of your child’s growth that makes a doctor’s actions and conclusions easier to comprehend. Do consult your doctor if you notice irregularities in your baby’s growth cycle or if you just require a more in-depth understanding of your baby’s growth cycles.