How Development Progresses During First Year Of Life
( Originally Published 1936 )
Many things about a baby that are perfectly normal, nevertheless seem strange and alarm the beginning parents.
Don't worry about the baby's legs being bowed. Normal babies have a slight outward curve of the legs. This is partly due to the way the baby lies—with the knees out and the soles of the feet toward each other. For this reason it looks as if the legs were more bowed than they really are. Pronounced bowing of the legs when the baby begins to walk is due to rickets, and should have medical advice.
Most babies have a few birth marks—small red strawberry marks. When these are on the face of a girl baby it causes the mother great concern, but in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, the mark will gradually fade, until it entirely disappears.
The best criterion of a baby's health is the weight. A healthy baby gains in weight, and if a baby is gaining in weight it is almost always healthy, and the food formula need not be changed no matter what digestive disturbances are present.
After the first week, when there is normally a loss, the baby's weight should go up 5 to 7 ounces a week for the first three months, and 4 to 6 ounces a week for the second three months, and 3 ounces a week until the end of the first year.
At the end of the first month the average boy baby weighs 8 pounds 3 ounces; girl baby, 7 pounds 11 ounces. At the end of three months average boy, 12 pounds 11 ounces; girl, 12 pounds 3 ounces. At six months, boy, 16 pounds; girl, 15 pounds 8 ounces. At nine months, boy, 18 pounds 2 ounces; girl, 17 pounds 10 ounces. At one year, boy, 21 pounds; girl, 20 pounds 8 ounces.
The baby should also gain in length. At birth the average is 20 inches, at six months 25 inches, and at one year 29 inches.
The soft spot on the head (the fontanelle) usually closes at the 18th month, but may vary from 14 to 22 months. The most common cause of failure to close is rickets. This applies to the big f fontanelle in front. There is a small soft spot toward the back of the head which closes at the end of two months.
WHAT TO Do TO PREPARE YOUNG CHILD FOR SCHOOL
The little fellow is going to school today for the first time. He's five now—the baby days are behind him. Life begins in earnest.
He is to have tasks. He must prove himself. More important than anything else, he will meet competition. He will begin to asso-date with his fellows.
How will he stand the test? It is a frightening thought, but also an ennobling one—a stimulus for all of his parents and well-wishers.
Certainly he should have every chance to do it well. His body, as well as his mind, will be tested. And he must try to realize the old Greek ideal—"mens sana in corpore sano."
Now, I am not one of those who thinks that the little fellow should be overhauled like an automobile about to take a journey, before going to school. If he is plainly healthy, with a wholesome mind and understanding, delighting in play and activity, I certainly do not think it is necessary to send him to a jury of specialists in dentistry, and nose and throating, and heart and lungsery, and eyes and earsery, and everything else. Lots of us went to school before the word "orthodontia" was invented, and some of us did very well. Not that these fellows are not useful in their place and when their time comes—but it seems to me sometimes we fuss too much with the machine.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
But there are some things I think most evidently should be remembered for the little fellow before he starts his first day in school. Your family physician will give you all the advice you need about special treatments.
First, let's be sure he can see and hear well. He has never had these senses really tested in his baby days. No one would notice if he were nearsighted: he himself would not know what it means. Now he has to hear questions distinctly and begin to decipher letters and words. Perhaps he has a slight eye defect or is just a little under normal in hearing. And he might go and fall behind in classes and nobody understand why, with his bright, eager brain.
Then, let us remember his many new human contacts. He has been comparatively alone, up to now. Suddenly he is thrown with several hundred children. Some of them may be just coming down with a contagious disease. Some come from households where there has been diphtheria—they may, all unwittingly, so far as they or their parents are concerned, be carrying around some of the germs in their own mouths or throats. So let us immunize the little fellow to diphtheria, typhoid fever and smallpox, perhaps whooping cough, before we send him off.