Mothers are often very much disturbed because their babies do not weigh as much as some other baby of the same age. They cannot disabuse their minds of the injurious notion that babies must be fat. When a group of mothers get together they compare the weights of their babies. The mother whose baby is the fattest is apt to feel proud of her "superior" child, while the mother of the baby that weighs the least is quite apt to worry considerably. In most cases the mother of the light-weight should rejoice, while, the mother of the baby suffering from the fat-bloat should do the worrying.
There is, of course, considerable differences in the weight and height of perfectly normal babies. Heredity is involved in this matter. Children of short parents are not likely to be as tall as children of tall parents. There is no good reason why the two babies should be any more alike than their patents are. Two babies in the same family may also, as a matter of heredity, be of different sizes, not merely in infancy, but thoroughout life.
We are often reminded that a baby that weighed five pounds at birth should not weigh as much as a baby that weighed nine pounds at birth. Usually, however, the five pound baby will be as large, except for fat, as the nine pound baby and, unless the nine pounder continues to fatten, the five pounds child will catch him in weight and may even outweigh him.
Dr. Page reasoned thus: "During the nine months of foetal growth the increase, except in the case of monstrosities, is about one-third of an ounce per day, or two and one-half ounces per week. Why it should be deemed rational for this ratio to be increased six or seven hundred per cent., directly after birth, is beyond my comprehension. In spite, or because, of this hot-house forcing during the first few months, the usual weight at, say, five years, is much less than if the rate of pre-natal growth had been continued throughout these years."
It was his thought that the pre-natal rate of growth should continue for some time after birth and that the normal infant should double its weight in about nine months. If such babies are not fattened, this is just about what takes place.
The following figures giving the average heights and weights of males and females at various ages are taken from "The Infant and Young Child," by Morse-Wyman-Hill. I have not given the weights by months as these authors do. These weights up to the age of four years are without clothes. From four years onward the clothes are included. They allow about three pounds for the weight of the clothes.
I append the following tables showing the development of my own children down to date. Comparisons of the weight and height are possible in the cases of the two boys, and it will be noticed that both of these outstripped the average in height, although both of their parents and all four of their grandparents are short of stature, the tallest of these being only five feet and nine inches. Although Bernarr took on fat easily, we have always had greater trouble to keep Walden from getting fat than we have had with Bernarr. It will be noticed that, although Walden was the largest at birth and weighed the most at one year, yet he did not grow in height as rapidly as Bernarr. All three of these children were too heavy at birth and this I was forced to overcome after birth.
|At Birth||20 inches||8-3/4 lbs.||13-1/2 inches|
|1 month||8-3/4 lbs.|
|2 months||9 lbs.|
|3 months||24-1/2 inches||11 lbs.||15-5/8 inches|
|6 months||28 inches||15 lbs.||16-1/2 inches|
|1 year||30 inches||19-1/2 lbs.||18-1/4 inches||18-1/2 inches|
|2 years||35-1/2 inches||35 lbs.||22 inches||20-1/4 inches|
|3 years||39-1/4 inches||41 lbs.||22-1/2 inches||20-1/2 inches|
|4 years||42 inches||45 lbs.||23-1/4 inches||20-3/4 inches|
|5 years||45-1/2 inches||49-1/2 lbs.||24-1/2 inches||21 inches|
|6 years||47 inches||50 lbs.||25 nches||21 inches|
|At Birth||21-1/2 inches||9-1/2 lbs.||14 inches||14-1/2 inches|
|1 month||9-1/4 lbs.|
|2 months||11 lbs.|
|3 months||24 inches||14 lbs.||16 inches||16 inches|
|6 months||26-3/4 inches||18 lbs.||17-7/8 inches||16-3/4 inches|
|1 year||29-3/4 inches||20 lbs, 6-3/8 oz.||19-1/4 inches||18-1/2 inches|
|2 years||35-1/2 inches||33 lbs.||21 inches||19-3/8 inches|
|3 years||38-5/8 inches||41 lbs.||22-1/2 nches||20 inches|
|At Birth||19 inches||7 lbs.||12-1/2 inches||13-1/4 inches|
|1 week||7 lbs.|
|2 weeks||7-1/2 lbs.|
|3 weeks||8 lbs.|
|1 month||20 inches||8-1/4 lbs.||13-1/8 inches||14-1/8 inches|
|2 months||21-1/4 inches||10 lbs.||14-1/2 inches||15 inches|
|3 months||22-1/2 inches||11-1/4 lbs.||15-3/4 inches||15-5/8 inches|
|4 months||22-3/4 inches||12-3/4 lbs.||16-1/2 inches||16 inches|
|5 months||24-5/8 inches||14 lbs.||16-1/8 inches|
|6 months||25 inches||14-3/4 lbs.||16-3/4 inches||16-1/2 inches|
Relative to the rest of the body, the head is quite large at birth, being greater in circumference than the chest. This ratio changes as the child grows and develops. If he develops as he should, thc chest will be a little larger at one year than the head. Fat babies, if the fat is not discounted, may not do this.
The lack of symmetry of the head, due to its compression in labor, soon disappears. The soft spot at the back of the head closes at about six weeks. The fontanel, or soft place on the top of the head, closes at from sixteen to eighteen months. It may even close earlier in children of superior nourishment who get an abundance of sunshine.