Essay on Physical growth during infancy

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Infancy is the period of rapid growth and development. There is rapid growth in terms of height, weight and size which leads to changes in shape and proportion. Physical growth is accompanied by motor activity.

General Characteristics

In the first few weeks of life, the infant has no control over his body. Gradually, he learns to lift up his chin when lying on his stomach. Around two months, he learns to smile a little. Between three and four months, his neck muscles grow stronger and he learns to hold his head up. By now he has also started cooing and gurgling and his salivary glands are active.

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His eyesight becomes steady and when a dangling toy is tied to his crib, he can fix his eyes on it and also turn his head to follow it, if removed. He can have a strong hold on any object near him; but by six months he can reach for it and grasp it. By six months, as found by Gassel, a baby is able to sit with a slight support. Between 9 to 18 months the child rapidly learns to creep, to stand with support, to climb stairs, to walk and is constantly moving about.

Growth in Height and Weight

An easily noticeable aspect of physical growth is changes in height and weight. Studies have shown that at birth, the infant is on an average 20″ long and weighs 7 pounds. Male infants weigh on an average 0.2 pounds more than female infants. During the first six months the weight of an average infant is doubled. At the end of two years, there is increase in arms and legs and he learns to walk also. By the time the infant reaches a height of 28.25 inches, his weight increases to 19.7 pounds. The average female baby of the height of 28.25 inches weighs 19.3 pounds. However, averages in height and weight cannot be regarded as applying to any one individual because very wide variations are found among growing children.

Body Proportions

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Besides changes in height and weight, growth in large muscles affects body proportions. Finger and hand muscles show less growth. The growth of the skeleton is not regular for all its component parts and there is a wide range of body built. The skeletal growth is shown by many “facts such as the contrast between the size of the skull and the bones of the arms and the legs. Changes are also noticeable in respect of cutting teeth. At first there are no teeth, and then the baby teeth appear which are followed by different sets.

Some other changes

There are many other changes which are j connected with digestion, respiration, toilet habits etc. Changes also occur in nerves and glands, and in reproductive organs. The baby bones are more pliable and the joints are less firm. There is greater scope for environmental influences. There is always danger of infection because of low calorification.

By two, most infants will go to the toilet when they feel the need; by three, most infants will stay dry all night.

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