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Normal Growth And Development Of Infants


What is the normal growth and development of infants?

Normal growth and development is how your infant learns to walk, talk, eat, and interact with others. An infant is 1 month to 1 year old.

How fast will my infant grow?

Your infant will grow faster while he is an infant than at any other time in his life. Healthcare providers will record the following changes each time you bring him in for a checkup:

  • Weight. Your infant will double his birth weight by the time he is 6 months old. He will triple his birth weight by the time he is 1 year old. He will gain about 1 to 2 pounds per month.
  • Length. Your infant will grow about 1 inch per month for the first 6 months of life. He will grow ½ inch per month between 6 months and 1 year of age. He should be 2 times longer than his birth length by the time he is 10 to 12 months old. Most of his growth will happen in his trunk (mid-section).
  • Head size. Your infant's head will grow about ½ inch every month for the first 6 months. His head will grow ¼ inch per month between 6 months and 1 year of age. His head should measure close to 17 inches around by the time he is 6 months old and 20 inches by 1 year of age.

What should I feed my infant?

Feed your infant healthy foods so he grows and develops as he should. Do not feed him more than he needs or try to force him to eat. Infants have a natural ability to know when they are hungry and when they are full.

  • Breast milk is the best food for your infant. Choose a formula with added iron if you cannot breastfeed. Ask for help if you have questions or concerns about breastfeeding. Your infant will slowly increase the amount of milk he drinks. He may drink 4 or 5 ounces at each feeding by 2 months old. He may need 5 to 6 ounces at each feeding by 4 months old. He does not need solid food until he is about 6 months old.
  • Your infant will want to feed himself by about 6 months. This may be messy until his eye-hand coordination improves. Give him small pieces of food that he can hold in his hand. Your infant might not like a food the first time you offer it to him. He may like it after he tastes it several times, so offer it more than once. You will learn the foods your infant likes and when he wants to eat them. Limit his sugar-sweetened foods and drinks. Cut your infant's food into small bites. Your infant can choke on food, such as hot dogs, raw carrots, or popcorn.

How much sleep does my infant need?

Your infant will sleep about 16 hours each day for the first 3 months. From 3 months until 6 months, he will sleep about 13 to 14 hours each day. He will sleep more at night and less during the day as he gets older. Always put your infant on his back to sleep. This will help him breathe well while he sleeps.

When will my infant be able to control his movements?

Your infant should be able to do the following things in the first year:

  • Your infant will start to open his hands after about 1 month. He can hold a rattle by about 3 months old, but he will not reach for it.
  • Your infant's eyes will move smoothly and focus on objects by 2 months. He should be able to follow moving objects by 3 months. He will follow moving objects without turning his head by 9 months.
  • Your infant should be able to lift his head when he is on his tummy by 3 months. Your healthcare provider may tell you to you place your infant on his tummy for short periods when he is awake. This can help him develop strong neck muscles. Continue to support his head until he is about 4 months old and his neck muscles are stronger. Your infant should be able to hold his head up without support by 6 to 8 months old.
  • Your infant will interact with and recognize the people around him by 3 months. He will smile at the sound of your voice and turn his head toward a familiar sound. Your infant will respond to his own name at about 6 months old. He will also look around for objects he drops.
  • Your infant will grab at things he sees at 4 to 6 months. He will grab at objects and bring his hands close to his face. He will also open and close his hands so that he can pick up and look at objects. Your infant will move an object from one hand to the other by 7 months. Your infant will be able to put an object into a container, turn pages in a book, and wave by 12 months.
  • Your infant will move into the crawling position when he is about 6 months old. He should be able to sit with some support by 6 months. He may also be able to roll from his back to his side and from his stomach to his back. He will start to walk when he is about 10 to 12 months old. Your infant will pull himself to a standing position while he holds onto furniture. He may take big, fast steps at first. He may start to walk alone but not have good balance. You may see him fall down many times before he learns to walk easily. He will put his hands on walls or large objects to steady himself as he walks. He will also change how fast he walks when he steps onto surfaces that are not even, such as grass.

How do I care for my infant's teeth?

Teeth normally come in when your infant is about 6 months old, starting with the 2 lower center teeth. His upper center teeth will come in when he is about 8 months old. The upper and lower side teeth will come in when he is about 9 months old. You can help keep your infant's teeth healthy as soon as they start to come in. Limit the amount of sweetened foods and drinks you offer him. Brush your infant's teeth after he eats. Ask your child's healthcare provider for information on the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your infant. Do not put your infant to sleep with a bottle. The liquid will sit in his mouth and increase his risk for cavities.

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a skin condition that causes scaly patches to form on your baby's scalp. Some infants may also have scaly patches on other parts of their body. Cradle cap usually goes away on its own in about 6 to 8 months. To help remove the scales, apply warm mineral oil on the scales. Wash the mineral oil off 1 hour later with a mild soap. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush or washcloth to gently remove the scales.

When will my infant begin to talk?

Your infant will start to babble at around 4 months old. He will start to talk when he is about 9 months old. He learns to talk by copying the words and sounds he hears. He will learn what words mean by watching others point to what they talk about. Your infant should be able to speak a few simple words by 12 months. He will begin to say short words, such as mama and dada. He will understand the meaning of simple words and commands by 9 to 12 months. He will also know what some objects are by their name, such as ball or cup.

Why is it important to create routines for my infant?

Routines will help him feel safe and secure. Set a schedule for your infant to sleep, eat, and play. Routines may also help your infant if he has a hard time falling asleep. For example, read your infant a story or give him a bath before you put him to bed.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's caregivers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.