Patterns of Growth

A baby weighs about three kilograms at birth, and loses 150-200 g in the first three to four days. After that he grows rapidly and gains about 25 to 30 g a day for the first three months and a little less rapidly after that. The widely accepted formula that a baby doubles his birth weight at five months and trebles it at one year is by and large true even though some smaller babies weighing around two and half kilograms at birth may be four times their birth weight at one year of age.

The length of the baby at birth is 48 to 50 cm and at one year of age becomes one and a half times that.

Average growth in weight and height during the first five years

Age — weight growth per week

• 0-3 months — 200 g
• 4-6 months — 150 g
• 7-9 months — 100 g
• 10-12 months — 50-75 g

Weight growth per year

• 1-5 year — 2.0 kg

Age — height growth per year

• 1st year — 25 cm
• 2nd year — 10-12 cm
• 3rd year — 7-9 cm
• 4th year — 6-8 cm
• 5th year — 6-8 cm

You should remember that these are averages and all babies will not conform to this pattern. There is a wide range within which a baby’s growth is considered normal.

The following table gives you some idea of the expected weights and heights of well-nourished Indian children at various ages. Let me emphasise once again that children vary a great deal in their weights and heights at different ages. Some are taller, others shorter, which may be due to family characteristics. Some have narrower, lighter bones, others are broad built. What is more important is the growth rate of the child and the direction of his growth curve at a particular point of time.

Average weights of well-nourished Indian children at different ages

Age Boys and Girls (weight in kg)
  • Birth — 3.0 ∼ 2.9
  • 6 months — 7.5 ∼ 7.0
  • 1 year — 9.5 ∼ 9.0
  • 2 years — 11.5 ∼ 11.0
  • 3 years — 14.0 ∼ 13.5
  • 4 years — 15.5 ∼ 14.5
  • 5 years — 17.5 ∼ 16.5

These are somewhat lower than the weights of American children, probably because of racial and ethnic differences.

Average heights of well-nourished Indian children

Age Boys and Girls (Height in cm)
  • 1 year — 75.0 ∼ 72.5
  • 2 years — 85.0 ∼ 83.0
  • 3 years — 94.0 ∼ 92.0
  • 4 years — 100.0 ∼ 99.0
  • 5 years — 107.0 ∼ 105.5

Health Card

Even though the doctor, or the clinic where you take the baby for immunisation and advice, will keep a record of the vaccines given and the illnesses treated, it is better for you to keep a record of it as well. This is best done with a card in which the weight, immunisation, as well as illnesses are recorded. The weight is charted in a curve so you can judge from the direction of the curve whether or not your child is doing well and gaining weight satisfactorily. As explained earlier, it is the direction the curve takes that is important.

Weighing the baby once a month is usually enough unless he is irritable and cranky and you may have reason to believe that he is not gaining enough weight or is not well. After the age of one year, the baby may be weighed once in two months.

A word of caution

The shops are full of a variety of tonics and many mothers insist that the doctor must prescribe one so that the child eats better or grows faster. Tonics are by and large a waste of money. The child needs enough of a balanced diet for growth and not tonics. Similarly, various drugs to make your child taller are also useless and there is no need for these at all. Some anabolic hormones are positively harmful and should not be given to the child to promote his growth.

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