Child Care: Growth and Development of Newborn Baby


❖ Parental role: A loving bond between parents and baby, a harmonious inter-spouse relationship and a congenial family atmosphere are the most important requirements for the healthy growth & development of a child. Accept your child as he is and forget about the qualities that he doesn’t possess (no human being is perfect).

❖ Comparisons and parental attitude: Every individual is different and unique. Your child also is. Different children have different patterns of growth and development. Therefore it is superfluous to compare your child with others. The age of attainment of a milestone is an approximate average. If your child achieves a milestone early, it doesn’t mean that he will be a prodigy and vice-versa. Parents use gross milestones like sitting, walking etc. as indicators of development. However they are least reliable. The most important indicators like alertness, responsiveness, concentration etc. are abstract and defy objective assessment.


❖ Growth assessment: Serial measurements of weight, height and head circumference are the most important indicators of the physical growth of a child. These are plotted on a “growth chart” periodically. Parents should try to keep a systemic record of them.

❖ Weight: Weight should be always measured on the same scales. The weight of a child may vary falsely, if different scales are used, creating anxiety in the parents.

❖ Height: The final height achieved by a child is determined strongly by genetic inheritance from parents. There is little medical intervention can do to alter the final height.

❖ Head circumference: 80% of the brain growth occurs during the 1st two years. Therefore measurement of HC has significance mainly up to 2 years. It should be measured every 1-2 months during the first year.


❖ Social smile: It is a very important indicator of normal baby development. It is the baby’s first way to show that he can also socially interact. If a baby doesn’t smile by 2 months, one starts suspecting that the baby’s development may be retarded in the future.

❖ The 10-month milestone: The child approaches an object kept in front by extending his index finger towards it. This “index finger” approach is a powerful evidence to show that the child is developing normally.

❖ Separation anxiety: It begins at 6-12 months when the child becomes wary of a stranger and clings to the mother for reassurance. Before this, the child goes to any stranger.

❖ Mobility: At 9-10 months, the child starts crawling on all fours. He can now rove from one spot to another and pull things from “hitherto protected areas”.

❖ Autonomy and Independence: It starts at 1 year of age and leads to a lot of tension and struggle for control between the child and the parents. However, imagine if the child doesn’t manifest this. This means that throughout his life, he will be dependant! Parents should understand this phase as a part of every child’s growing up and make light of the “NO’s” that the child says quite often in response to various parental requests and desires.

❖ Language: The first indication that the child will be able to speak in future comes at 2 months, when the baby coos (gurgling “throaty” sounds).The first meaningful word that pertains consistently to a specific object or person makes its appearance at the age of 1 year.

❖ Dental development: There is no fixed time when the first tooth erupts. In some children, it may erupt at 5 months, while in others it may not erupt till 1 year of age. Complaints at the time of teething like diarrhoea, fever etc. is attributed to it, which is not correct. Teething perse doesn’t cause any illness.

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