The growth and development of the child are two closely linked phenomena, however they present differences that are worth clarifying, the first is expressed in the increase of weight and height of the baby, and the second refers to the maturation of the functions of the brain and other vital organs. Somatic, psychological and social maturation is what constitutes a child’s development. For the study and monitoring of a child’s growth and development, it can be divided into four stages: infancy, the preschool years, the school years and adolescence.
The period between gestation and three years of age is extremely important because during this time the brain forms and matures at its maximum speed, with the brain being the centre of the child’s development. The conditions of the intrauterine environment and the family environment after birth determine the potential for capacities that the child will have in his or her future life. In the first week of life, an infant normally loses 5-10% of its birth weight. However, by two weeks of age, the baby should begin to have rapid growth and weight gain.
By one month of age, the child averages about 3,750 to 4 kilograms and is 53 cm tall, still holds his or her hands in a fist and prefers to lie on his or her back when awake. On his or her stomach, he or she raises his or her head for a few seconds. He follows the objects with his eyes and with the movement of his head. He is capable of crying with great intensity and responds positively to certain comforts and satisfactions.
At three months; holds head, responds with a smile when smiled at, moves head to follow object, plays with hands, weighs 5 to 6 kilos and is 58 to 60cm tall. At four months; lying on his stomach, he turns without turning around completely, extends his hands to catch what attracts his attention, weighs an average of 6.5 kilos and measures 62 to 63 cm.
At six months, he sits without support for a moment, weighs an average of 7.5 kilos and measures 67 cm. From the third to the sixth month of age, his postures are usually symmetrical, with his head on the midline. He holds his head well balanced when placed in an upright position and is able to rotate on himself and therefore fall out of bed. He follows slowly moving objects with his eyes and when hanging objects are placed in front of him, he actively moves his arms.
At seven months, he weighs 7.5 to 8 kilos and is 68 to 69 cm tall. He already sits on his hands and tries to jump actively when placed in an upright position. She is already able to shake and bang the rattle or exchange one toy for another.
At eight months he weighs 8 to 8,250 kilos and is 70 to 72 cm tall; he already stands up using his hands to support himself, vocalizing the sound “mmm” and emitting the sound of some vowels. He is able to bring his feet to his mouth, can sit up unaided, crawl and stand on furniture.
The sense of imitation that exists from birth is perfected, he is able to say goodbye and clap his hands.
At nine months he weighs between 8.5 and 9 kilos, sits alone, crawls and stands up unaided. He responds to his name and is better adapted to his surroundings. He eats cookies by himself and is able to hold his bottle without help.
At one year of age he weighs about 9,250 and is 74 to 76 cm tall, plays simple games and grabs an object when indicated, says 3 words, crawls freely, can take a few steps by helping himself to the furniture or holding it in one hand.
In his second year the little one only gains 2.5 kilos and grows 12 to 13 centimetres (in the first year he gains 6 to 7 kilos and 25 to 30 cm).
The child’s diet plays a very important role in his growth and development. To ensure that the child is getting enough food, it is important to remember that breast milk alone is the best possible food for an infant during the first four to six months of life.
From the fourth to the sixth month, the child needs other foods in addition to breast milk to adequately meet his or her needs.
Generally, a healthy child will follow an individual growth curve despite variations in nutrient intake. Parents should provide the child with an age-appropriate diet and offer a wide variety of foods to ensure adequate nutrition. All children between the first months of life and three years of age should have their regular check-up with their pediatrician to be measured and weighed, which will allow him/her to guide the parents in their management.
Regular weight and height gain is the most reliable indicator that the child is in good general health and is developing adequately.
Parents should remember that it is the individual child’s weight and height gain that is important, not his or her relative weight to that of other children.
It is recommended that children be weighed and measured every month. If parents and the pediatrician do not see any weight and height gain for two months in a row, it may be a sign of a problem or that the child is being held back by an illness.