6 common factors that can tremendously impact a baby’s growth

What affects baby's growth
Here are six common factors that can tremendously impact a baby’s growth.

Many factors can influence a baby’s growth; some are modifiable, and some are nonmodifiable.

  1. Genetics
    • A baby’s growth is usually determined by genetics. Studies have reported that height in twins is related. For example, if one twin is tall, the other twin tends to be tall.
    • Similarly, babies who have well-built and tall parents are more likely to be tall and well-built, whereas babies who have short parents are more likely to be short.
    • According to studies, 60 to 80 percent of growth is determined by genetics, whereas 20 to 40 percent is determined by other factors, such as nutrition and lifestyle.
  2. Nutrition
    • Nutrition can play a key role in determining a baby’s growth because the worldwide trend suggests so. Studies show that children and adolescents who are malnourished may not achieve their desired growth and fail to thrive.
    • With increased awareness about nutrition and lifestyle, people now have better growth and development, on average, than their ancestors 1,000 years ago.
    • Apart from child nutrition, mothers must have a healthy diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  3. Hormones
    • Growth hormones determine a baby’s height. A deficiency in these hormones occurs due to reduced growth hormone secretion from the pituitary gland
    • Growth hormone deficiency mainly occurs when damage to the pituitary glands or hypothalamus that controls pituitary glands occurs. For your babies to develop appropriately, the growth hormone or pituitary gland needs to function efficiently.
  4. Overall health
    • Certain birth defects and infections during pregnancy can affect a child’s birth weight and later, growth in life.
    • Certain medical conditions that can affect growth include:
    • Restricted growth during birth may occur when there is a problem with the uterus and placenta or if the mother faces any health conditions.
  5. Issues with uterus and placenta
    • Certain issues with the uterus and placenta can affect a baby’s growth, which can include:
      • Decreased blood flow to the uterus and placenta (often seen if the mother is in their mid-30s)
      • The placenta attaches low in the uterus
      • Infection in the tissues around the baby
      • The placenta separates from the uterus
  6. Health problems in the mother

Baby growth guidelines

The transition from a newborn to a toddler is extremely crucial. In normal development, a newborn should gain double their weight when they turn six months old.

As a rule, consider the following guidelines for a baby’s growth during their first year of life:

  • From 0 to 6 months: A baby might grow 1/2 to 1 inch (about 1.5 to 2.5 cm) a month and gain five to seven ounces (about 140 to 200 grams) a week. Expect your baby to double their birth weight by five months.
  • From ages 6 to 12 months: A baby might grow 3/8 inch (about 1 cm) a month and gain three to five ounces (about 85 to 140 grams) a week. Expect your baby to triple their birth weight by their first birthday.

How do you know if your baby’s growing properly?

It is always stressful to track a child’s growth, which causes worry in many parents. Because of this, here are some ways to tackle stress about your child’s growth.

Ensure that the following criteria are met during the initial phase of life:

  • A breastfed baby may feed about eight times in 24-hours, whereas formula-fed babies every three to four hours during the first six months
  • Apart from breastmilk or formula milk, your child should be getting their required nutrition through various other foods after six months
  • Ensure that the child pees often, and the urine color is not dark yellow
  • Monitor your child’s stools for their color and consistency
  • The child achieves all the milestones within the defined timeline
  • The child is learning or curious about their immediate surrounding
  • The child reaches age-appropriate height and weight

When should I worry about my baby’s growth?

Seek your pediatrician’s help if you notice the following warning signs in your child:

  • Refuses to eat or has difficulty latching on if you are breastfeeding
  • Always seems hungry, even after feeding
  • Seems abnormally sleepy or fussy
  • Throws up large amounts of milk or has diarrhea
  • Produces fewer than six wet diapers a day
  • Doesn’t seem interested in any activity
  • Doesn’t reach age-appropriate milestones

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Medically Reviewed on 3/23/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Watson S. What Influences Your Baby’s Growth? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/influences-growth

Mayo Clinic. Infant and toddler health. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/infant-growth/faq-20058037

University of Rochester Medical Center. Small for Gestational Age. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02411

Vorherr H. Factors influencing fetal growth. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1982 Mar 1;142(5):577-88. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7036747/