When you hear of a birth, the first question is ‘was it a boy or a girl’ and the second is usually ‘how much did they weigh’. Although weight is important, it is not the only sign of growth and it is important not to use this as the only judge to their wellbeing.
In the first year your newborn baby grows faster than at any other time in their life but remember that baby’s development is individual so don’t compare to other babies. Physical development is monitored closely at the developmental checks by your clinic or paediatrician.
In the first few days your baby may lose approximately 10% of their birth weight but by about day 10, they should have regained it. In the following 6 months they gain rapidly at about a kilogram per month, slowing down in the next 6 months to about half a kilogram a month but this is only a guideline.
Baby’s size is partly due to inheritance. Again the biggest increase in length occurs in the first 6 months after which growth slows down. A newborn full-term baby is on average 50cm long and their length will increase by approximately 25-30cm in the first year. Generally boys tend to be taller than girls for the first two years.
Newborn babies are top-heavy with their head being disproportionate in the size of their body causing the head to be floppy with no control. This will gradually alter over the first four years. Head circumference is monitored carefully at developmental checks as these can alert doctors to certain medical conditions. A newborn will have a head circumference of about 35cm and by 12 months, the size of their chest and head should have evened out.
The soft spot on the top of baby’s skull where the bones are still not joined is called the fontanelles. The skull bones only fully fuse when baby is about two, until then be careful especially with very young babies not to press on this area although they are fairly robust.
The above are all guidelines and should you have any concerns, it is best to contact your doctor or paediatrician.