Physical growth and development of children is an integral component of the health and well-being of the child. It is essential that parents gain adequate information and put it into action to reap tangible benefits.
The term Growth refers to increase in the physical size of the baby. Increase in height, weight and head circumference (which indicates brain development), body proportion, growth of nervous system and associated sense organs are considered under this category. The term Development refers to increase in skills and function. Growth and development are considered together because the child grows and develops simultaneously.
Physical growth is characterised by an increase in weight and height in relation to the age of an individual.
Weight for Age
- Measurement of weight and rate of gain in weight are the best parameters for assessing physical growth.
- The birth weight should be measured preferably within the first hour of life, before significant post natal weight loss occurs.
- Parents must carefully and repeatedly measure the weight regularly at monthly intervals from birth to one year, every two months during the second year and every three months thereafter up to five years of age. This is because this group is at the greatest risk for growth faltering. By comparing the measurements with reference standards of weights of children of the same age, the trend of growth of the child becomes obvious.
- Normal weight of an infant at birth ranges from 2.7 to 3.0 kgs.
- Baby gains at least 500g of weight per month in the first three months.
- A healthy baby doubles her birth weight by five months.
- By the end of one year, birth weight triples.
- By the age of two, birth weight increases four times.
- From second year to puberty, the weight increases by 2 to 3 kgs per year.