As you celebrate every birthday of your toddler, there are two aspects you need to keep an eye out for – growth and development. Growth simply refers to rapid changes in size, whereas development involves changes in form, function, and behaviour.
The normal growth pattern is considered a good indicator of a child's overall health. Every child is unique and grows at his/her own pace. Besides, several factors such as genetics, gender, physical activity, health problems, nutrition, environment, and hormones impact a child's height and weight.
It is advisable to track your child’s height and weight. And in order to understand if they are normal/healthy, height and weight measurements are plotted on growth charts that are based on normal growth patterns. If your child deviates from the normal growth curve, then you can reach out and discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Other simple signs of growth deviations that you should keep an eye out for:
- Your child wears out his/her shoes before outgrowing them
- He/she fits into the same clothes for over a year
- Younger siblings catching up or surpassing your child's height or your child gradually falls behind his/her classmates
These signs show that they may be lagging behind in growth. The opposite signs may be seen when your child is growing too fast.
How a child speaks, plays, learns, moves and acts indicate his/her development. Therefore, a child’s development comprises gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills (learning, thinking, problem-solving), social and emotional skills.
These are tracked with the help of developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children are able to do at a certain age range. So when should you be concerned? Have a look at when you should talk to your child’s doctor:
|Age in years||Signs of possible developmental delay for this age|
|2||. Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”)
. Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon
. Doesn’t copy actions and words
. Doesn’t follow simple instructions
. Doesn’t walk steadily
. Loses skills she once had
|3||. Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
. Drools or has very unclear speech
. Can’t work simple toys (such as pegboards, simple puzzles, turning handle)
. Doesn’t speak in sentences
. Doesn’t understand simple instructions
. Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
. Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
. Doesn’t make eye contact
. Loses skills he once had
|4||. Can’t jump in place
. Has trouble scribbling
. Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
. Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family
. Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
. Can’t retell a favourite story
. Doesn’t follow 3-part commands
. Doesn’t understand “same” and “different”
. Doesn’t use “me” and “you” correctly
. Speaks unclearly
. Loses skills he once had
|5||. Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions
. Shows extreme behaviour (unusually fearful, aggressive, shy or sad)
. Unusually withdrawn and not active
. Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes
. Doesn’t respond to people, or responds only superficially
. Can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
. Doesn’t play a variety of games and activities
. Can’t give first and last name
. Doesn’t use plurals or past tense properly
. Doesn’t talk about daily activities or experiences
. Doesn’t draw pictures
. Can’t brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help
. Loses skills he once had
What can you as a parent do to ensure your child grows and develops normally?
The right amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats are essential for your little one to grow and to reach their milestones. Fats and carbohydrates are energy-giving foods which include whole-grain cereals, vegetable oils, ghee, millets, butter, seeds, nuts, and sugars. Body-building foods include proteins that are found in milk, milk-based products, dals and pulses, fish, poultry, meat, and also in whole-grain cereals and millets.
Vitamins and minerals are protective foods and essential for boosting your child’s immunity. These are found in abundance in green leafy vegetables, other colourful vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk and milk products, and meats too. These foods also provide micronutrients needed by the child, like fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, B complex vitamins, calcium, iron, iodine, antioxidants, fibre, carotenoids, etc.
Incorporating all these foods into your kid’s daily diet can prevent malnourishment and ensure steady growth and development. Apart from good nutrition, sufficient sleep (10-12 hours/per night) and regular exercise/physical activity promote good growth and development!
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