By Kayla Richard
I don’t know about you, but I find the body to be a very mysterious thing. As an individual, you may have thought this yourself by now. However, if you have a child you have most definitely witnessed it. Without a doubt, you have witnessed this within the first year of their life. When your child was born they were most likely 18-21 inches long and weighed 6-9 pounds. In a mere twelve months, they will be an average of 27-31 inches and 17-23 pounds. This means they have more than doubled in size in less time than they can learn to say a sentence. I would be a little disappointed if this were to happen to me as an adult. However, we look forward to this happening with our little ones. Why?
Before you even leave the hospital after giving birth to your newborn, they are already being weighed and measured against a list of norms and expectations. While this will be something that will continue for many years to come, it is very important in the first few years. These milestones will help you and your child’s medical providers know if they are healthy and thriving, or if there may be reason for worry. While this is exciting to know when to expect their first word, or first steps, it is also terrifying if it is not happening right on track. However, do not worry; we are here to tell you what you need to know to help keep your mind at ease about your child’s major milestone moments.
The first and arguably most important thing to learn is that no two children are the same. Yes, this includes yours. All milestones are based on averages. These averages start from the second your baby is born. For instance, the average weight for a newborn is 7lb 2.5oz. Nevertheless, that also means that the average weight for a baby boy is 7lb 4oz and 7lb 1 oz. for a baby girl. If your baby was not the “perfect” average, it doesn’t mean they still weren’t healthy and absolutely perfect. This will continue for the next several years as you judge yourself as a parent as they continue to not hit every other milestone perfectly. Have no worries, this does not mean there is anything necessarily wrong, and it definitely does not mean you are not a good parent. It just means that no child is the same.
Over the first year, your child’s pediatrician will be watching for when you take them in for their well-baby visits many significant milestones. After all, they are doubling in size. We would expect a lot to be happening. There will be many physical, social/emotional and cognitive developments happenings one right after the other. Some of the biggest things to be concerned about and bring up to the doctor are listed below:
- Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
- Doesn’t watch as things move
- Doesn’t smile at people
- Doesn’t bring hands to mouth
- Doesn’t hold up head during tummy time
- Can’t hold head steady
- Doesn’t coo or make sounds
- Doesn’t bring things to their mouth
- Doesn’t push down with legs when held with feet on floor
- Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
- Doesn’t reach for things
- Shows no affection for caregivers
- Doesn’t make vowel sounds “ah”, “eh”, “oh”
- Doesn’t roll over in either direction
- Doesn’t laugh or squeal
- Seems stiff or rigid
- Seems very floppy, like ragdoll
- Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support
- Doesn’t sit with help
- Doesn’t babble
- Doesn’t join back-and-forth play
- Doesn’t respond to their name
- Doesn’t seem to recognize people
- Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to another
- Doesn’t crawl
- Doesn’t search for things you hide
- Doesn’t say a single word yet
- Doesn’t learn gestures like waving
- Doesn’t point to things
- Loses other skills they once had
Remember when you look at the concerns above that they are just that, concerns. So while most babies are crawling prior to nine months of age, it doesn’t become a concern until they are a year old and still not crawling. This means that on their first birthday, some babies may be new to crawling while others are starting to walk around everywhere. This will continue to happen for several years as they do everything from developing their coordination to getting and losing their baby teeth.
One final measurement that is often a point of concern for many first time parents is their child’s weight and height, whether it be over or under the average. When parents take their babies in for their pediatrician visits they are often told percentages as to where their child falls on the height and weight growth curves. Again, these are averages. However, hearing your child is in the “10th percentile” or the “99th percentile” may cause panic in some parents. As scary as this may sound, the main concern is that the child is growing and staying at the same rate on the curve from visit to visit. Trust us, if the doctor is concerned they will let you know. Of course, as with anything, if you ever have questions or concerns, ask the pediatrician.
Often we can guess how big a child will grow up to be by looking at their parents and other family members. This, however, is not always the case. We also know that just because a baby was born premature, does not mean they will remain on the bottom of the growth curve. Just like, we know that the cute babies with the little wrinkles may not stay at the top of the curve once they start walking and running around.
As we said before, every child is different and will develop at their own rate. If you ever have questions, ask your child’s doctor, but otherwise, keep doing what you are doing! You are doing great!
“Important Milestones: Your Baby by One Year.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Feb. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/milestones-1yr.html.
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