Physical changes to look out for in your little champ.

As a parent, it’s only natural to want to ensure your little one is developing well for his age. Here’s where a baby growth chart comes in handy, to record changes in your baby's length, weight and head circumference. 

Such charts are typically used to compare your child's measurements against children of the same age. Charts are useful as they may give an early warning of a potential medical or developmental problem. Your child’s growth is also an important indicator of their overall health and nutritional status. Accurate measurement and regular plotting of your child’s height, weight and head circumference for their age can help detect growth issues.

When your baby goes for their health check-up, their paediatrician will usually plot certain measurements on the chart to ensure they are growing well. Most charts show measurements on a vertical axis, and the baby’s age on a horizontal axis. Boys and girls also have different growth charts.

It’s important to note that all babies grow at different rates, and the “normal” growth range can vary a lot. As long as your baby is responsive, healthy and continues to grow, there's usually no need to be anxious that they’re not hitting all their milestones

Parents can also refer to the growth charts provided in the official Health Booklet issued by the Health Promotion Board. From page 26, you’ll find percentiles of head circumference, weight-for-age and height-for-age for boys and girls aged 0 to 24 months, 24 to 72 months and 4 to 18 years. 

Aside from growing taller and bigger, here are other developmental milestones you can expect in your mini-me: 

0 to 3 months

- At this stage, most movements made by your infant are controlled by their reflexes. For example, swallowing, grasping and sucking. Voluntary movements start to appear when your baby is a few weeks old.
- Your baby’s head will be about one-quarter of their total body size. Their body trunk is typically long, with short legs.
- At 2 months, your baby should be able to hold an object (e.g. a rattle) for a short time and glance from one object to another.
- By the end of three months, they should be able to lift their head off the floor when lying flat on their tummy.

4 to 6 months    

- Babies should double their birth weight by 4 to 5 months of age.
- Around 4 months, they will roll over from tummy to back and shortly after that from back to tummy. Also, push their chest off the floor when laid on their tummy.
- They should be able to reach for objects, shake a toy or rattle, hold two toys at once and put them in their mouth.
- By the end of 6 months, they may even be able to sit without support.
- Solid foods should also be introduced sometime between 4 and 6 months.

7 to 9 months    

- Your baby will begin to push themselves up onto their hands and knees.
- Soon after pushing up, crawling begins. 
- Start to follow your movements around the room.
- Start to use a pincer grasp (using forefinger and thumb to pick up small objects).
- By the end of 9 months, they can go from lying on their tummy to a sitting position. 

10 to 12 months    

- At around 10 months, your baby starts to stand on their own and support themselves by holding onto furniture. 
- At around 12 months, they begin to take their first steps. 
- Can carry out simple actions like pushing a toy car along on the floor and putting objects into a large container.

13 to 18 months    

- By the end of 14 months, your baby should be able to walk on their own. 
- Able to scribble on a piece of paper with a crayon / pencil. 
- Can stack a tower with toy blocks.
- Able to turn the pages in a book.

17 to 24 months    

- Can draw an arc with a pencil on a piece of paper (after being shown how to).
- Can turn a doorknob using both hands.
- Can zip and unzip a large zipper.

When to talk to a paediatrician about your baby's development

If your child isn’t meeting the milestones for their age, or if you think there could be a problem/ delay with their development, do speak to their paediatrician. Early intervention is essential when it comes to developmental delays. 

Signs that you should consult a paediatrician include:

-    Baby doesn’t respond to noises or track objects with their eyes.
-    Baby isn’t showing any curiosity in what’s going on around them
-    They aren’t holding their head up by 3 to 4 months.
-    They aren’t sitting up on their own at 10 months.
-    They don’t use both legs or arms by 12 months, and can’t support their own weight.
-    They seem way behind other babies of the same age in milestones.

These signs don’t always mean that your infant has a developmental problem. However, it’s always better to send them for a check-up sooner rather than later. 

Parents can consult a paediatrician at medical centres like Thomson Paediatric Centre, with experienced specialists that can diagnose and treat infant medical conditions. 

Photos: iStock

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