Babies will notice objects at about eight weeks and recognize people at about three months. At about four months they reach out and grasp objects. They can say a few simple, single words at about one year and at two years can form short sentences.
At birth, the baby can sustain the weight of its body with one hand if allowed to grasp a pencil or other small object. From one month onward it should be able to grasp its mother's or father's fingers in its hands and swing from the bed.
The well norished child can sit erect at four to six months, the average child sits erect at seven to eight months. The back should never be supported by pillows at this time. The well nourished child can sustain the weight of its body on its feet from the third to fourth month; the average child does so at nine or ten months. Creeping or crawling comes in the well developed child at five to eight months.
The well developed child will walk at from eight months to a year. The average child walks at from thirteen to sixteen months. The many devices on the market called "baby tenders", "walkers," etc., are pernicious and will never be used by any well informed parent.
Most children creep before they crawl. Others "hitch" along in a sitting position. Creeping is the ideal method so far as development is concerned.
Delay in walking may be due to rickets, or other form of malnutrition; acute disease; indigestion, due to overfeedling or to enervating causes; fat-disease; leg weakness.
Most babies are not permitted to develop their muscles because we are afraid they will injure themselves. Few of them ever get sufficient sunshine for normal development. Almost all of them are wrongly fed and poorly nourished.
There is great variation in the time at which babies cut their teeth. Rare cases are born with teeth and some have two or three teeth at four months. Babies considered normal have been noted with no teeth at thirteen months. If the child is healthy and properly nourished, the teeth are better when they erupt late than when they come through early. The following table, giving the average ages at which the teeth are cut, is taken from The Infant and Young Child, by Morse-Wyman-Hill.
6-10 months 2 middle lower incisors (these are usually the first ones.) 12-15 months 4 upper incisors 18-20 months 4 lateral incisors and 4 anterior molars. 4 Canines ("eye" and "stomach" teeth). 24-30 months 4 posterior molars.
By the end of two and a half years the average child has cut his first or "milk" teeth. Some babies cut a bunch of teeth all at once.
In the sixth year, the first permanent molars erupt, back of the temporary teeth. Shortly after this the child begins to lose his temporary teeth and the permanent teeth replace them.
Parents are usually much concerned about the weight of their children at various heights. The symmetrical and proportionate development of the child's body and its general health is of fat more importance, but parents have been taught to measure the health of the child with a pair of scales and nothing will shake them loose from this false practice. The following table giving the average weight of boys and girls at various heights is taken from Morse-Wyman-Hill.
33 25.9* 26.0* 34 27.3* 27.3* 35 28.7* 28.6* 36 30.1* 30.0* 37 31.6* 31.5* 38 33.2* 32.7* 39 36.3 35.7 40 38.1 37.4 41 39.8 39.2 42 41.7 41.2 43 43.5 43.1 44 45.4 44.8 45 47.1 46.3
It should be understood that these weights are mere averages and do not represent the ideal. Some day somebody is going to take the trouble to prepare such a table from the weights, not of average children, but of well nourished and splendidly developed, but not fat, children. Tables that approach the ideal will then be produced.
Tables now in use merely represent the average of all types and no one can reasonably be asked to conform to them. Don't worry if your child does not fit these weights. See that your child is healthy and properly cared for and forget the rest.
We must learn to look upon each child as a small human organism that the inherent developmental forces are trying to evolve into a fine, robust man or woman. We must realize that each new stage or step in the development of the infant into a child, the child into the adolescent, and the adolescent into an adult, is spontaneous and natural, and that where development ts retarded or distorted there are hindrances in the way. The forces of the body are striving for perfection and doing the best they can with the material at hand and under the circumstances as these exist. The upward, or orthopathic tendency of the body in the lowest stages of disease, as in the most vigorous states of health cannot be doubted or denied.
If these things are true with regard to the physical growth and development of the evolving being, they are no less so with relation to the unfolding of the intellectual, emotional and moral natures. Of the individual. The physical changes which occur at puberty, for instance, are no more profound and marked and no more spontaneous, than are the changes in the mental, moral, emotional and social elements of the evolving individuality. And it is just as natural for these elements to take a normal course, an upward course, as for the physical part of the individual to tend towards the ideal. Nature strives for intellectual, emotional, moral and social perfection as certainly and as unrelentingly as she does for physical perfection. If she does not attain these, it is because of hindrances in the way. These hindrances may be found in many sources, but are found as often as anywhere in a retarded or distorted physical development.