Height and Weight. A child’s height and weight change dramatically over the first 5 years of life. Newborns typically measure from 18-1/2 to 21-1/2 inches in length. A child usually weighs between 5.5 and 9 pounds at birth. A premature baby (born 4 or more weeks early) or a baby who is a twin may be less than 5-1/2 pounds at birth. Most children will triple their birth weight by their first birthdays and quadruple their birth weight by age 2. By the time they are 4 years old, children are likely to have doubled their birth length. These ranges vary, of course, depending on such factors as
A child who is not getting enough nourishment, sleep, exercise, and love and attention may experience slowed growth. However, even the best conditions will not make children grow taller than their genes have determined for them.
A child's parents and pediatrician or other health care provider may want to chart her growth in height and weight. If this growth slows, if the child's weight is not proportional to her height, or if her height or weight falls below the fifth percentile for her age, the pediatrician can arrange tests to learn more about the reason for the slow growth. The earlier an abnormal condition is found, the earlier it can be treated.
Growth charts are available online and can be printed out so parents can keep their own records. Here are a few good growth charts from the National Center for Health Statistics:
Birth to 36 Months:
Age 2 to 20 Years:
Motor Skills. Children also vary in how quickly they develop specific motor skills. Motor skills are the physical abilities that a child needs to move effectively within the environment. One child may crawl early but walk later than other children. Some children may skip crawling entirely. A parent who is concerned that his child is not learning new motor skills as quickly as other children should discuss this concern with his child’s pediatrician or other health care provider.
Developmental Milestones. Here are some developmental milestones in physical development that parents may want to look for.
|Newborn||Weighs between 6 and 9 pounds, has rooting and sucking reflexes, needs to be held with head and neck supported.|
|3-month-old||Holds up head, rolls over from stomach to back, follows a moving object with eyes, wiggles and kicks.|
|6-month-old||Weighs twice birth weight, can sit with support and roll over, can hold an object, smiles and laughs, looks at faces and sounds.|
|8-month-old||Sits up without help, rocks on hands and knees, and picks up small objects and transfers them to the other hand. Some may begin to crawl.|
|12-month-old||Weighs three times birth weight, crawls and pulls up to stand, may walk alone, picks things up, waves “bye-bye.”|
|18-month-old||Walk and runs, climbs steps holding on or by crawling, tosses a ball, feeds self, rides small-wheeled toys, opens drawers and cabinets.|
|2-year-old||Weighs four times birth weight, walks alone, goes up and down steps holding onto hand or rail, scribbles with crayon, may start using the toilet.|
|3-year-old||Grows more slowly, helps dress self, hops and tiptoes, can balance on one foot, opens doors, pedals a tricycle, uses the toilet.|
|4-year-old||Has doubled birth length, dresses self, runs and skips, stacks blocks, bounces and throws a ball.|
Parents who wonder whether their child’s development is “normal” may want to compare their child’s progress to the milestones for typically developing children in books or in the Web resources listed below. If parents suspect there may be a problem or if there is a substantial difference in a child’s development from what is suggested in these lists of milestones, parents can contact the child’s pediatrician or other health care provider and ask for an appointment. It may help to remember that, at times, a physical problem such as frequent illness may slow development.
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