The first 12 months of a baby’s life is when babies are growing very quickly. And we don’t mean just their physical growth but also the mental, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of their growth.
Nutrition plays a very key role in shaping the foundation for their mental and physical well-being. Hence, our Weaning Guide focuses so much on getting the nutrition right so that your babies can grow into happy and healthy beings.
It's very natural for parents to worry or wonder whether their baby is doing great in terms of their growth. Is he growing well? Is she healthy for her age? Is he of the right weight and height at this age? These are normal questions and concerns all parents have at different stages of their baby’s first year.
Today, we will share some signs that you can watch out for, which suggest your baby’s growing well!
9 Signs Your Baby Is Healthy & Thriving
1) Adequate weight gain
Every baby has their own growth curve. Hence, there is no “ideal” weight that your baby should be. A good sign of healthy babies is that they’re consistently gaining weight throughout the first year of their life.
Research shows that babies grow to double their birth weight by the time they’re 5-6 months old, and triple their birth weight by the time they’re 1 year old. On average, babies in their first year will put on 300 to 500 grams of weight per month growth. Fixating on weight or height related numbers can create unnecessary pressure on parents, which are absorbed by your little ones too. While weight does indicate a baby’s growth and development, it is not the only marker of healthy
If you feel your baby is not gaining weight for a month or two, please speak to your doctor.
2) Increase in height/length
Healthy babies also grow in height and length every month. They usually grow about half an inch each month (cute, right?!) and by approximately 10 inches in their first year.
A baby’s growth curve (usually maintained by their pediatrician) comprises their (1) height and (2) weight, which is measured every time you visit the doctor or on a monthly basis. Keep in mind that each baby’s growth curve will also depend on their genetics and metabolism (we will discuss this more in detail later).
You would have noticed how your baby’s head shape and size have changed ever since they were born and you held them for the first time. Head circumference is also a key indicator of a baby’s healthy growth. Like their height/length, a baby’s head circumference also grows by about half an inch every month in the first year. Again, this is usually measured by your doctor and maintained in your baby’s medical chart.
In the next article, we will look at growth charts for babies in detail, especially how to read them and understand your baby’s growth.
3) Developmental milestones
Babies who are getting appropriate nutrition and eating and sleeping well will most likely achieve their developmental milestones. When babies receive good, wholesome nutrition comprising a variety of nutrients essential for them, it boosts their emotional, mental, cognitive, and physical development.
4) General contentment
Babies who are well fed are usually happy and active babies. There is a sense of contentment and alertness in them. If babies are cranky once in a while due to fatigue or illness or a tantrum, that’s alright. But if you find that they’re irritable and cranky, are not eating as well, or napping as well as they usually do, it’s best you ask your doctor.
5) Regular diaper changes
Healthy babies usually will have frequent wet diapers that indicate regular urine and bowel movements. By wet diapers, we mean babies are peeing and pooping at their normal routine (“normal routine” can look different for different babies. For example, when a baby who usually passes stools 2-3 times a day starts passing stools once in 2 days, then this is considered a change in their normal routine). If a baby has regular diaper changes, it indicates that they’re hydrated well (getting enough fluids) and not constipated (getting enough fiber-rich food).
If your baby is passing dark-colored urine or stool is hard and pebbly (as opposed to soft and mushy), they could be dehydrated or constipated, respectively. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns.
6) Enthusiasm at mealtimes
Healthy babies are usually active and enthusiastic at or before meal times. They look forward to eating their meals. If your baby is on breast or bottle feed, they will naturally ask for it or reach for it. This shows their willingness and excitement to be fed and nourished.
At mealtimes, your baby is happy to open their mouth when being fed or is feeding themselves with excitement. Yes, they will be playful and perhaps disruptive, but that’s okay because it’s part of their exploration and learning.
7) Steady energy levels
Health babies are generally curious, playful, happy, and energetic – unless they’re ill. The levels of playfulness and energy may differ from baby to baby, and that’s normal. If your baby is low on energy and you observe they’re not eating or sleeping well for an extended period of time, speak to your doctor.
Many parents complain about how their baby has too much energy for the parents to keep up with them. That’s a happy baby for you!
<8) Healthy skin and hair/h3>
When babies are getting adequate nourishment from their food, they have healthy skin and hair. Every baby will have different texture and amount of hair, so if a baby has less hair naturally it does not mean there’s trouble! Babies who have any skin conditions (sensitive skin or eczema) are an exception and their skin is not related to their nutrition.
By healthy skin, we mean their skin should not be overly dry or flaky. By healthy hair, we mean their hair should not be discolored or brittle. If you feel that something is not normal with your baby’s skin/hair, it’s best to speak to your doctor.
9) Engaged and interactive
Healthy babies will be interactive and curious, constantly engaging with the people or objects around them. By engaging with objects, we mean that babies will be curious to reach out and grab, touch, poke, prod, throw, and of course put the object in their mouth! With people, babies will try to talk, smile, laugh, and express in their own gibberish language.
Healthy babies are responsive to sights and sounds around that, which are highly stimulating. As babies grow, their responsiveness will improve. You will observe how babies start responding to cues as they start learning behaviors expected of them.
Consistent growth patterns in all aspects (height, weight, length, head circumference, etc.) are a good indication that your baby is doing well. When you visit your baby’s doctor, they too will observe and record your baby’s growth patterns. So, if you have any niggling doubts, share it with your doctor.
Pause & Reflect
Your baby is doing amazing and the credit goes to you, dear parent. Parenting such a small baby is truly hard work. There is no standard baby manual that you can follow, which works on all babies! Also, remember it’s a brand-new experience for your baby, so be patient and calm and don’t let your overwhelm get the better of you.
Your baby is different and will progress at his or her own pace. Just be present and mindful and enjoy this journey of discover with your little one ☺️