Children grow at a rapid pace between birth and two years of age. But once they hit the age of two, toddlers tend to have a much slower growth rate when compared to their younger self. This is when the parents are concerned about the changing eating habits of their child and wonder whether the kid is growing normally.
The physical development in infancy happens in a series of growth spurts. It is important to keep in mind that after the growth spurts they grow at a standard and steady rate until adolescence. The best way to determine if they are growing properly is to closely monitor and track their growth.
What Is Physical Development?
As your little one grows, so does his body. Slowly but steadily, your child is preparing to take on the structural build which is almost similar to that of an adult.
Signs of a Child’s Physical Development
Here are some of the pronounced signs of a child’s physical development:
The arms and legs of the child grow longer and will be proportionate to the torso as well as the head. It can also be noticed that your child will appear much slimmer and distinctively thinner than he was as an infant.
2. Muscle Growth
Muscle growth tends to be faster in order to aid movement in the child. The muscles of the arms and the legs that are larger are known to grow faster than the muscles in the toes or the fingers, which are smaller. At this stage, it is important to provide proper nutrients to your child to aid the growth process.
3. Brain Development
Brain development will help your child perform complex mental and physical tasks. During early childhood, there is significant growth in the neural fibres in the brain, specifically in the frontal lobes. It is also noted that the around 2 years the human brain is already 70% of its adult size. By the age of six or seven, the size of the brain is almost 90% of its adult size. The increase of motor skills can be contributed to this growth. It is also a common practice to measure the circumference of the head in order to figure out the growth rate of the brain.
4. Motor Skills
Motor skills are associated with the child’s ability to perform tasks on an everyday basis. It can be anything from running to building blocks. Motor skills can be categorized as:
- Gross Motor Skills
Also called for large motor skills, these are the skills that are required to perform general tasks like running, walking, jumping or even balancing their bodies as they engage in these activities.
With you gross motor skills your child should be able to perform some of the below activities,
- Walk with a steady balance
- Run comfortably in a single direction or around obstacles
- Throw a ball or catch one
- Hop on each foot several times
- Jump over objects or low lying hurdles
- Kick a ball that is stationary
- Pedal a tricycle
- Fine Motor Skills
Also called small motor skills, these involve finer movements and holds necessary to perform tasks that may be slightly complicated. These are also associated with the brain development of the child.
Fine motor skills allow the child to:
- Use cutlery
- Brush teeth or comb hair
- Pick up small items likes coins
- Work on simple puzzles
- Draw simple shapes like circles or squares
- Stack up blocks
By 12 months, the length of an infant is known to increase about 50% the birth length. When children reach the age of five, they can be double their birth length. Also, boys reach half of their adult height around two years and girls are half their adult height when they are about nineteen months old.
At one year, the weight of the infants is three times that of the birth weight. The growth rate tends to slow down after the first year and between one to six years, he will be gaining around 2kg per year.
Typically, around five to nine months of age, your baby will have lower front teeth. The teeth on the upper front appear around eight to twelve months of age. Children tend to get all 20 of their baby teeth or deciduous teeth by the age of 2 and half years. Permanent teeth replace the baby teeth anywhere between the ages of 5 to 13.
Stages of Physical Development
The stage of physical development in children follows a general pattern:
- Babies can crawl, sit and hold their head up by age two.
- Walking, running, jumping, climbing stairs with help, building blocks and finer motor skills like holding crayons are learnt between age two and four.
- Around the ages of four to six, they can climb stair without help, write and even dress on their own.
Ways to Boost Physical Development in Toddlers and Preschoolers
You can work out in some physical development activities for preschoolers to help improve their dexterity and development:
- Walk with the kids and provide them with the opportunity to run and jump and use their large muscles.
- Prepare a simple obstacle course for your child to jump over and run around in your backyard or in the house.
- Play catch with balls. You can also play games that will help the child learn to kick and throw the ball.
- Have a mini dance party at home. Put on some music and dance with your child, especially to nursery songs that stimulate fine motor skills like the ‘Itsy bitsy spider’.
- Play pretend games like laying a tightrope on the ground and trying to balance on it.
- Get creative with art. Provide your child ample opportunities to draw in and around the house.
- Get some child-safe scissors and teach your kid some craft work.
- Have a block building contest.
- Get toys that can boost physical development in your child like a tricycle, basketball hoop (child-sized) or hula hoops.
- Have a water pool in the backyard and encourage your child to splash or paddle under supervision.
- Get your child to help with simple fun chores like bathing the dog or washing the car.
- Ensure that your child has adequate sleep to enable overall development.
- Take the child for a routine check-up to catch any issues early.
Physical development in children should be complemented with proper nourishment and a healthy balanced diet as this ensures proper growth and development of the muscles and the bones.