Variations In Normal Growth For Babies

Variations In Normal Growth For Babies

The word normal is often thrown around when people talk about babies and children, but how do we define it? What are the different types of normal? When do variations from normal become something to be concerned about? Here, you’ll learn more about variations in normal growth for babies, including what causes them and what to do if you have concerns about your child.

What Does a Variation in Normal Growth Mean?

Variation in Normal Growth Mean

A variation in normal growth means that a baby has been growing a little differently than other babies their age. The words normal and abnormal when it comes to growth can be tricky because, according to medical professionals, there’s no such thing as abnormal growth—growth charts are just guidelines.

If you were to plot your child’s weight on an average growth chart, she might be right in line with her peers or slightly above or below them—that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with her; it just means she may not be growing at a perfectly average rate. But if you notice one of these eight variations in normal growth for babies (which we’ll cover next), talk to your pediatrician so he can rule out any underlying issues before they become serious health problems.

Natural Decline in Growth Rate

By birth, a baby’s length has increased dramatically. Their head is bigger and their body weight has doubled in comparison to what it was at eight weeks of gestation. By one month of age, babies typically weigh around 6 pounds (3 kilograms) and are 20 inches (50 centimeters) long.

After they are born, their rate of growth slows down substantially as they begin to eat regular solid foods and sleep longer stretches at night. However, there is quite a bit of variation in how fast an infant grows after birth. Most babies will double their birth weight by three months, but some may take up to four months before doing so.

Growth Spurts and Plateaus

It’s normal for babies to grow differently and at different rates. For example, a six-month-old may suddenly start growing faster than his or her four-month-old friend. That’s called a growth spurt. A baby will gain weight more quickly when he or she is going through a growth spurt, so that’s another reason you want to focus on your baby’s pattern of growth (which includes both weight and length). But be aware that growth spurts and plateaus can happen at any time in a baby’s first year.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used set growth charts using data from Caucasian boys and girls. But then a few years ago, it decided to include race-specific norms on its growth charts because different races mature at different rates.

If you look at CDC’s chart for African American children, for example, you will see that black girls tend to hit their peak height between ages 9 and 11—much earlier than white girls of similar age—and only one year later than white boys of similar age. Parents must be aware of normal variations in normal growth so they don’t worry if their children are not growing up as fast as other kids their age.


Despite general growth patterns, it’s important to know that there are variations in normal growth for babies. It’s very common for a baby to grow faster one month and then have a slower month. This is usually due to their fluctuating appetites or maybe even an illness that your baby may be experiencing. Another variation of normal growth is that your baby will hit certain periods where they gain weight at an above-average rate and then plateau for several weeks.

As long as your baby is showing signs of adequate physical development at regular checkups with his pediatrician, you shouldn’t worry too much about these variations in growth. Be sure to let us know if you see any changes in your child, though!

Head Circumference

The head circumference is probably one of the most important things to check. If it hasn’t changed over a week or two, consult your pediatrician. Lack of growth in your baby’s head may indicate a serious problem. While small heads aren’t normal, they don’t necessarily signal a problem either—they may just be how his or her genes worked out.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t grow quickly in the first few weeks: you should see an increase in head size by 2-3 months. Be sure to speak with your pediatrician at each appointment, as even slight variations can be cause for concern and further monitoring.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Your baby’s weight in kilograms is divided by her height in meters squared. This is a screening tool to see if your baby is gaining weight at a healthy rate for her age. The standard growth chart for normal babies shows that 7 out of 10 babies who are breastfed will gain less than 1% of their birth weight (less than 100g) during their first month, while 5 out of 10 breastfed babies will gain more than 2% (more than 200g). Some studies have shown that these values may be too high, and may result in many babies being labeled as underweight who are not.

Catch-Up and Catch-Down Growth 

Many babies and toddlers will have periods where they grow at a much faster rate, sometimes known as catch-up growth. The important thing to remember is that as long as your child is growing over time and appears healthy, don’t worry about it.

These periods typically last for several months before leveling off. At their worst, these periods are typically fewer than 10 days and occur over six months or less (and usually not all in one season). If your baby doesn’t gain weight while she appears to be catching up, you should bring it up with her doctor.

Constitutional Growth Delay

A delay in a child’s growth rate is often caused by malnutrition, a chronic illness, or some sort of acute illness. Whatever their cause, constitutional growth delays are often temporary and will resolve themselves as soon as an underlying condition is treated.

If you think your child might be experiencing constitutional growth delay, you should take them to see a doctor right away. Though there isn’t much you can do to speed up your child’s natural growth rate, medical treatment can help correct any underlying issues and ensure they get adequate nutrition until they catch up with normal development.


Understanding your baby’s development and knowing what to expect at different stages can help reduce anxiety. If you have concerns, discuss them with your pediatrician. Remember that all babies are different, but if your child seems significantly behind in his or her development, talk to a doctor immediately.

Your child may be developing normally but has a condition that requires attention. Seeking early medical care is best for ensuring normal development and reducing stress for both you and your child.

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