Growth and Development
Babies grow and develop at a very rapid rate during the first year of life. They grow physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. However, through this portfolio, I intend to discuss the physical growth and development patterns of the infant through their first year.
To begin with, development refers to the baby’s increased skill in using various body parts. When dealing with the development of a child there are three basic developmental rules. First Developmental Rule:
This rule states that babies develop in the head region first, then the trunk, and lastly in the legs and feet. Therefore, it is said that babies develop in a head-to-toe direction or cephalocaudally. For example, a baby can hold up their head before they can grasp an object with their hand. Also, they can feed themself before they can walk. Second Developmental Rule:
The second rule explains that children develop from the midline, or centre of the body, outward toward the fingers and toes. This stage or rule is the one which affects the development of motor skills. Motor skills are the child’s ability to control movement. There are two basic classifications of motor skills, gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are those which involve the large muscles. Whereas, fine motor skills are those involving the smaller muscle groups. For example, a child can grasp a big ball in their arms before they can catch a baseball in their hands. The fine skills of hands and feet are the last to develop. Third Developmental Rule:
The Baby’s Body
In this section, you will find specific break-downs of the baby’s body parts. I decided to do this to show how the baby grows and develops in each area of their body. Also, you will see how these developing body parts affect the developing motor skills of the child. The following areas will be discussed, their size and weight, the head, brain, eyes, ears, arms and hands and finally, the legs and feet and the trunk.
Size and Weight
The average baby is 20 inches long at birth, or 50.8cm. However, not all babies are born the same length, generally, lengths vary from 18-21.5 inches or 45.7-54.6 centimetres.
The average baby weighs 7.5 pounds at birth, or 3.4 kilograms. Typically, the range is from 5.75-10 pounds or from 2.6-4.5 kilograms.
A general rule is that a baby increases in height by 50% and triples its birth weight in the first year. Clearly, this is a very rapid growth rate, however, the rate of growth slows down considerably after infancy. The Head
The head of a newborn baby is very large compared to the rest of their body. For example, compared to the baby’s total length of about 20 inches, the length of the head measures approximately 5 inches…which equals one-fourth of the total length.
There are four pieces of bone that make up the skull. These pieces are flexible. This is so that they can move slightly while the baby is being forced down the birth canal. The four skull bones will no join until the baby is about 18 months old. The area between the “pieces”, at the top of the baby’s head is called the fontanel, or the “soft spot”. The flexibility of the skull gives the baby protection form concussion caused by bumps or falls. I remember being warned when my little sister was born, not to touch her head because of this “soft spot”. However, through my research, I found out that you cannot hurt a baby by touching the head gently. The Brain
Even though the brain is large at birth, it’s development is incomplete. The part of the brain controlling posture and balance develops rapidly during the baby’s first year of life. Eyes
Babies are able to see at birth. Primarily, they notice movement. Also, research shows that newborn babies are best able to see an object that is between 5 and 18 inches away. Also, newborns are extremely sensitive to bright lights. Therefore, a baby may open his or her eyes in a dimly lighted room more comfortably then in a brightly light room. Ears
Babies have very good hearing. They often startle easily and will cry when they hear loud noises. I remember when my little sister was born, she liked to have songs sung to her and she would quite down when music started. It has been proven that babies must be able to hear in order to develop language normally. Arms and Hands
At birth, a baby has virtually no control of their arms and hands. The baby automatically grips objects tightly, for example, a pencil or a finger. Most babies are not able to open their hands freely until they reach 3 months old.
Babies first grasp objects in the palm of the hand with a whole-hand movement. It takes many months before they can pick up an object with the thumb and forefinger. This example proves the third developmental rule…gross and fine motor skills. Legs and Feet
Legs and feet are the most helpless of the baby’s body parts. To begin with, the legs are drawn up in the prenatal position. Legs also make automatic creeping or swimming motions. The legs and feet are the last body parts to be controlled by the infant. For example, a baby sits alone and grasps objects with his or her hands long before learning to walk. Again this is a demonstration of the first rule of development…the baby develops in a head-to- toe direction. Trunk
The main part of the body is called the trunk. The trunk will double and redouble in size several times before a baby reaches adulthood. In newborns, the control of the trunk must wait until the brain matures. After about 3 months, control of the head and spine begins. By 5 months, the baby can usually sit up with some help and by 14 months, most babies are walking.
The entire process of growth and development is called maturation. Most of the development and growth described throughout this project happens as the baby increases in age. Physical maturation cannot be taught to a child. A baby cannot be taught to sit or to stand before muscles develop. These skills are relevant only after the baby’s muscles have matured. Nature has set a general time for each child’s muscles to mature, making it possible for children to accomplish skills. In a chart, on page 6, I have summarized skills that are generally accomplished at certain ages through a baby’s developing months. Also on a chart on page 9, the physical components of growth, involving large muscle control, small muscle control, seeing, eating, sleeping, and hearing are summarized.
The First Year
What can a 3-month-old baby do?
At 3 months, a baby is alert and responding to the world.
* When put on her tummy, she can hold her chest and head up
for 10 seconds.
* She tries to swipe at toys hung over the crib.
* She turns her head toward an interesting sound or listens to
* Loves to stare at people’s faces.
* She coos and gurgles
* Height-23.5 inches *Weight-12.5 pounds
What can a 6-month-old baby do?
At 6 months, she is developing control over her body.
* She can sit with support and may sit alone for short periods
* She can roll over
* She will hold out her arms to be lifted up or reach and grab
* She can hold her own bottle and toys.
* She laughs out loud, babbles, “calls” for help and screams
* Height-26 inches
What can a 9-month-old baby do?
At 9 months, she is exploring her environment.
* She can sit unassisted, crawl, pull to a stand and side-step
* She can use her fingers to point, poke, and grasp small
* She feeds herself finger foods
* She knows her name and responds to simple commands
* She uses “jargon”-babbling a pattern as if she were speaking
a foreign language.
* Height-27.5 inches
What can a 12-month-old baby do?
At 1 year, she is striving for independence.
* She stands and may walk by herself.
* She climbs up and down stairs and out of the crib or play-
* She prefers using one hand over the other and can drop and
* She fears strange people and places.
* She remembers events, expresses affection, shows emotions,
uses trial and error to solve a problem.
* Height-29.5 inches