Baby Growth

Baby grows and develops more rapidly during his first twelve months than ever after. Below are some of the chief stages and developments which may be looked for, and approximately the ages at which they appear.

There is not necessarily any advantage in a childs being forward in development; if forwardness is hastened by undue excitement or stimulation it is harmful. On the other hand, slight backwardness need cause no anxiety; it is when backwardness is marked and persistent that advice should be taken. At birth.

A child immediately develops a sense of touch and temperature; and can distinguish botween darkness and light. He is deaf.

At 4 days.

Begins o show slight evidence of hearing. At 7 days.

Begins to like soft light. At 1 month.

May begin to notice differences in food. Begins to show signs of attention – e.g. fixed gaze, wrinkling forehead. At 5 weeks.

Noises in same room disturb him. Begins to like sensations of touch, e.g. being stroked; of sight, e.g. sunlight, light and shade, moving objects; and of hearing, e.g. singing, ticking of watch. At 6 tveeks.

Smiles from pleasure (his previous smiles have probably been wind ); coos and chuckles. At 8 weeks.

Shows distinct attention – e.g. follows moving objects with his eyes, recognizes faces, notices colours. At 4 months.

Can hold erect his head. This is said to be the first evidence of will-power, and so is an important step in mental development. Becomes shy with strangers. At 5 months.

Laugh3 aloud. At 5-7 months.

Can pick things up. Delights to make noises with things by banging, throwing down, knocking about. Will repeat same action endlessly. Tests all toys by putting into mouth. At 6 months.

Begins to cut teeth. (This date very approximate.) Birth weight doubled. At 8-9 months.

Can sit up erect and unsupported. At 9-10 months. Crawls.

Attempts to ttand. At 11-12 months.

Can stand with assistance. Birth weight trebled. Has about 6 teeth. Says single words. At 12-14 months.

Begins to walk. At 18 months.

Walking freely.

Begins to distinguish primary colours. About this time the soft spot in his head closes.

At 2 years.

Talking freely in sentences. Can walk distances, and run.

After two years development is so varied in individual cases that general tables are of little value.

Habit Training. Babies and young children are creatures of habit. Nothing is more remarkable than the swiftness and ease with which the new-born child acquires habits – good or bad.

Training begins in the first week of life, and habits acquired in infancy are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate later on. There are psychologists who maintain that the childs character is completely formed during the first five years, and while this may be regarded as still an open question, it is certain that early influences and training are permanently important.

Baby can be trained during the first few weeks or months to require food at regular intervals, to wake punctually at meal-times, to go to sleep when put back in cot or perambulator, to sleep through the night; to kick and play regularly when his napkin is removed, to enjoy his bath (and enjoyment adds sensibly to its value), to do his duty when held out and, provided the mother is vigilant and observes the required times, to soil or wet remarkably few napkins; to prefer fresh air and light, well-ventilated rooms to stuffy or overheated ones; to amuse himself for long periods in his cot, perambulator, or kicking pen.

Later, he will learn with equal readiness, if training be begun at the earliest moment, to chew and masticate his food with care, to clean his teeth, use a handkerchief, handle carefully and neatly spoons, cups, saucers, and toys; to tako a delight in being clean and tidy (of course, all healthy children will get dirty in play, but well-trained they will want to wash and to get into clean clothes again), to prefer clean, orderly rooms, beautiful colours and decorations, an orderly and quiet life.

Children are like chameleons; they model themselves on their surroundings. A well-trained young child can degenerate frightfully in a month of slovenliness and disorder, a badly-trained young child will equally show a marvellous change in a month if put into a better environment. But let the habits of infancy and early childhood become established, and then alteration or amelioration becomes quite another matter, as an3rone who has had to deal with a spoiled or badly-trained child of six can testify.

Training in good habits largely eliminates the vexed and difficult question of obedience. A child who has from birth been brought up in the way he should go will instinctively not do many things which are considered disobedient, and his life will be ordinarily so smooth that the tempers and fractiousness which provoke so much childish disobedience will largely be absent. Yet all children disobey sometimes, and it is necessar for safetys sake to forbid some places or actions.

To induce obedience, two requisites are necessary; absolute clearness on the part of the parent in making the order or prohibition, and absolute steadfastness in carrying it out. Little children often misunderstand, even when we think we have made ourselves perfectly clear; wo must be certain that they really do understand fully. If the child asks why, tell him, in words suited to his infant mind; but do not argue. At this very young age it is quite safe to assume that father or mother knows beat.

To break a promise is fatal; it destroys at once both the childs faith and bewilders MOTHERING him, because it destroys one of the main props of his little world. He has to build again, so to speak, among the ruins – always a hard job.

So if it is a matter of prohibition, there must be no indecision, no going back on nes word. The child at this age does I ot understand exceptions. But he very quickly learns if people mean or not what they say. When they do, he is safe; he knows the limits, and observes them. When they do not, his childish curiosity and adventurousness lead him to that attractive and dangerous game of seeing how far he can go. And that leads to the spoiled and disobedient child.


Mothering. Under this heading wo include personal and skilful attention and handling of baby by his mother, and mother-love as shown in playing with baby, cuddling him, singing and talking to him.

Babies need their mothers, not only for food, but also for attention, and that love which only a mother can give. A nurse, however skilled, cannot replace the mother, and children who are handed over entirely to nurses, or, more unfortunate, are reared in institutions, are robbed of their birthright. So, too, are babies who are expected to grow up on food and sleep alone; such children tend to be pale and lifeless; they seem to feel that they do not belong, and lose interest in life.

It is absolutely necessary that the mother should learn to handle a child skilfully; this knowledge does not come by light of nature, and includes much more than mere feeding, bathing and clothing of the child. It involves, for example, knowing how much play baby requires, being able to see when baby ha3 been sufficiently loved, distinguishing between necessary attention and fussing or spoiling.

It may be added that while the father is of minor importance during the first few years of the childs life, fathering is in its way just as important.

He may be said to be successful in his fathering if, from the ago when baby begins to recognise his parents (about 6 months), he is no stranger in spite of his daily absence from home, and his arrival is the sign for joy; and later, during the second and third years, for every eagerness for his attention and company.

Motions. The mother should inspect the childs motions until he is old enough to tell her when he is constipated. Inspection involves observing colour, consistency, the presence of curds of milk, undigested food, mucu3 (slime), blood, and worms. Hard or solid motions should he crumbled.

Green motions in babies show some digestive disturbance; it may be a chill, food disagreeing, or the onset of diarrhoea. Hard, whitish motions indicate an excese of curd. The passing of a little curd at times is quite normal; if it persists in quantities, the food is probably too strong. Mucus or slime in quantities indicates bowel disorder.

Brownish motions in children suggest that there is too muGh starch in the diet. Internal bleeding causes black or reddish motions. Pale, clajey motions suggest liver trouble, hard crumbly motions occur in stubborn constipation, very foul-smelling or frothy motion.3 indicate excessive fermentation in the bowels.

Mouth Breathing. Baby should always be watched for any sign of breathing through the mouth, which is the first symptom denoting the growth of adenoids. It may be due also to irregular or blocked nasal passages, or to insufficient care in cleaning the nostrils.

By itself it is a serious danger. Air passing through the nose into the lungs is filtered and disinfected, but mouth