When it comes to parenting the old adage is true: the only permanent thing is change. Just as you think you’ve figured it out and established a routine, your child grows and develops requiring you to adapt.
Understanding your child’s ever changing and emerging growth and development is an important part of parenting. Each growth stage is accompanied by not physical changes, but also changes in emotions, personality, behavior, thinking and speech.
Here is some additional information regarding what you may encounter as your child progresses through the different ages and stages of life:
The first month of life will be focused a lot on you and other baby getting to know each other. Don’t be alarmed when your baby loses weight, a weight loss up to about 10% of birthweight is normal in the first 2-3 days after birth. By about two weeks, your baby should have regained and be back at birth weight. No two babies are the same and may grow at a different rate.
Here are the averages for up to 1 month of age:
- Weight: Gain of about 1 ounce per day after the first two weeks
- Average length at birth: 19 ¾ inches for girls and 20 inches for boys
- Average length at one month: 21 inches for girls and 21 ½ inches for boys
- Head Circumference: By the end of the first month this is on average slightly less than 1 inch more than the baby’s birth measurement
At this stage, a newborn typically spends about 16 hours a day sleeping. You may notice a variety of involuntary movements, or reflexes, such as the root reflex, suck reflex, grasp reflex and others.
Your baby may turn to a sound or give attention to voices, be startled at loud noises, enjoy looking at faces and pictures with contrasting black and white images and give you hints of a smile especially during sleep.
The first year of a baby’s life is one developmental transition after another. Here is a helpful chart from The Bump with all of the milestones you can expect. Remember just as babies may grow at different rates, they also develop and achieve milestones at different rates. This is a general guide showing the average age when they milestones may be reached.
Typically once your child reaches one of age and/or begins walking, he is referred to as a toddler. The rapid physical growth and motor development that occurred during the first year will begin to slow. However, from ages 1 to 3, you can expect to see substantial intellectual, social and emotional changes.
By the age of two, your toddler will likely be able to say 200-300 words, begin to assert independence and begin to have bladder and bowel control. By the age of three, he may start speaking in short sentences, feed and dress himself, and use a potty chair or toilet.
All 20 primary “baby” teeth will have emerged by age 3, and we recommend routine dental exams every 6 months beginning at 2 years of age.
During the preschool years, ages 3-5, you can continue to expect emotional, intellectual and social growth. You will start to see their imagination blossom through pretend play, imaginary friends, dress up and storytelling.
Instead of short two- to three-word sentences, your preschooler will start speaking in longer sentences and begin to have full conversations. Through play, they will develop coordination and dexterity. They will quickly start to pick up shapes, colors, letter recognition and counting, as they soak up information from the world around them.
This is often a stage where children will learn boundaries and start to develop respect for authority through testing limits.
As children enter into school-age, their abilities and understanding of concepts as they relate to the world around them will continue to grow. A key aspect of this stage is further developing the ability to interact and social with others. You will see a transition from independent play to having multiple friends and social groups. Traits you may see emerge include sharing, jealousy, and occasional temper tantrums.
As these outside friendships grown more important, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a strong family bond through spending consistent quality time together. Sitting down together each day, or as often as possible, is a great way to give your child a sense of security and comfort. The more your child learns, grows and interacts with the world beyond the four walls of your home, the more important having that safe space to come home to becomes.
Adolescence may also be referred to as the teenage years, a stage of growth spurts and puberty changes. From ages 13 to 18, your child may grow several inches over a period of a few months followed by a period of very slow growth, then another growth spurt.
For boys, signs of puberty or sexual maturation typically being between the ages of 9.5 to 14 years old. Physical changes such as change in voice, acne, hair under the arms, pubic hair and facial hair, as well as changes to the genitals, will typically happen gradually over a period of time.
For girls, the average age for the start of puberty is between 8 and 13 years old, though menstruation typically starts between ages 10 and 16. Physical changes such as hair under the arms, hair on the legs, pubic hair and body shape including breast development will occur.
Mentally, your teenager will develop the ability to think abstractly and may start to show an investment in politics and social issues.
During the stage of adolescence, you may notice a struggle for independence and control begin to emerge. Some of the common challenges during these years include:
- Wants independence from parents
- Peer influence and acceptance becomes very important
- Romantic/sexual relationships become important
- May be in love
- Has long-term commitment in relationship
To help foster the confidence and sense of independence that will carry them into adulthood, during the adolescent stage you should encourage your child to take on additional responsibility that will teach accountability. Other important conversations to have include sexual health and financial literacy.
Welcome to adulthood! Before you do anything else, thank your parents or guardian who helped foster your growth and development through all the ages and stages that helped get you here.
As an adult, you now have the following legal rights:
- Voting! Make sure you register and take advantage of this freedom.
- Serve jury duty.
- Register for the military draft (men).
- Apply for credit in your own name (credit cards, signing contracts etc).
- Live independently, work and pay your own bills.
- Make your own medical decisions. Take ownership of your healthcare.
- Make your own appointments. Bring insurance cards and copays.
- Discuss your healthcare with your physician in confidentiality. Partner with your doctor on medical decision making.
- Follow through with any labs ordered, referrals made, or medications prescribed.
- Plan for your healthcare needs to be met in the future as you transfer to an adult doctor (by 22 years old).
- If desired, sign a consent form for your parents to be involved with the above responsibilities. This is a special HIPPA consent that we will provide at the front desk.
To help you make informed decisions regarding healthcare, talk to your parents about current and future health insurance coverage and seek their advice regarding healthcare choices.
At White’s Pediatrics, we offer comprehensive care and guidance throughout all of the ages and stages of life from birth through 21 years of age. For questions or concerns at any time, call us at (706) 876-2130.