See how your baby grows with our age-by-age guide and discover healthy growth standards and benchmarks.
WORDS CHERYLENE RENÉE
Watching our babies grow is a fascinating and magical process for every new parent. The changes in your baby may not be noticeable on a day to day basis, but your little one is definitely growing before your very eyes. The chubby cherub nestling in your arms will one day be an independent young child, talking and walking all on his own. But before that, there are several milestones he will have to hit with his physical and mental development. Here’s our age-by-age guide on the healthy growth standards and benchmarks for your baby.
The First Year
According to Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB), healthy newborns typically weigh between 2.5 to 4.5 kilogrammes, with the average baby weighing in at around 3.2 kilogrammes. His weight, height and other details are recorded from his very first day in the hospital in his very own health booklet. This booklet also contains a World Health Organization weight-for-age chart, which you should also use to track your child’s physical development during his early years. Your little one will grow bigger and stronger every single day, and it is in his first year in which you will see a whirlwind speed of growth. Over the course of your baby’s first few weeks of life, he will experience a rapid rate of growth and weight gain—a speed which will not reappear again at later stages of his development. Dr Pradeep Raut, a consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at Kinder Clinic, says that you should monitor your baby very closely in his first year. “The first year is the most happening! In the first year, you will see rapid development in weight and gross motor skills,” says Dr Raut. He adds that your baby’s weight will almost double by the time he reaches four or five months of age, and triple by the time he is 10 to 12 months old.
While there are differences in the growth patterns for boys and girls, Dr Raut advises that the differences are minimal. According to Singapore’s largest healthcare group, SingHealth, baby girls will experience growth spurts in the form of weight gain during their first six months; their physical growth rates then slow down in the latter part of their first year. For boys, however, their growth accelerates only after six months.
In addition to weight, baby’s overall movements should be observed as well. By this time, your baby may have already learned to crawl and
wriggle across the floor—another developmental milestone
all parents yearn to witness and document.
Dr Raut encourages parents to also track other movements too, such as his use of hands, and his interactions with Mummy and Daddy. These are your baby’s first steps towards refining his gross motor skills.
Another benchmark that parents should track and look out for would be the height of their baby. “Generally, most babies gain average 25 centimetres in the first one year,” Dr Raut advises. The amount of growth for each baby (25 cm) is more or less the same, but the average height of babies will vary across the board. “Monitor your baby’s weight, height and head circumference on regular intervals—that is more meaningful,” adds Dr Raut.
Your baby’s first birthday signals his transition from infancy to toddlerhood, and also a slowing of his physical growth rates. He will now put on half a kilogramme every two months. It is during this stage that you will start to see great leaps in his intellectual, social, and emotional development, as well as baby’s first steps and baby’s first words—all very exciting milestones!
Ah, the notorious terrible two’s. By now, he is actively exploring the world around him while improving on his motor and cognitive skills. Your little one is still learning how to manage his emotions and may be prone to temper tantrums and fits of anger. It is in this year that your child would have quadrupled his original birth weight, and it is also the best time for your paediatrician to make a relatively accurate prediction of his future height as an adult.
Ages 3 & 4
Most children will start preschool at this age. In their third year of life, preschoolers will gain an average of about two additional kilogrammes. It may also appear that he is losing his ‘baby fat’, as his limbs grow significantly in this year. According to an anthropometric study on preschool children by the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, both girls and boys may grow up to 18 centimetres taller by the time they turn four.
Age 5 and up
By the time your little one reaches five years of age, he would have amassed an impressive vocabulary and speech skills. Your now independent tot would have also developed keen motor skills by this age. His weight will increase at a steady pace of about roughly two kilogrammes per year. Height-wise, it is slow and steady from here until they mature as teenagers. Girls will reach their full height a couple of years before their first period, while boys only do so around the age of 17.
To Each His Own (Pace)
There are several factors which come into play when it comes to what helps your baby grow. “Growth for babies depend mainly on genetic potential, your baby’s overall health, any major systemic illness (if any), and environmental factors as well,” says Dr Raut. Your child’s diet is also a big contributing factor. Be mindful of his growth and keep track of his height, weight, and other physical developments in his health booklet and growth chart. “Serial growth measurements are very important. Pay attention to your baby’s overall health and well-being. Look out for rapid weight gain or loss over short periods of time, and discrepant growth patterns on growth charts as well. For example, your baby’s weight is normal (in the fiftieth percentile) for the age but his height too short (below the tenth percentile), and his head is too big or too small for his age,” Dr Raut explains. He adds that parents should consult a doctor if they sense something is amiss in their baby’s growth, and especially if baby’s weight or height is below the tenth percentile. Nevertheless, do not panic immediately if you see that your child isn’t sprouting as much as you think he should. Each child is an individual and will develop at his own unique pace. Allow nature to take its course, and revel in the joys of parenthood as it unfolds before you.