Every parents should know their kids better by just learning the important stages of their development. In this article we discuss exclusively Pre-Birth-Phases that includes every Trimester and Post-Birth-Phases of a child growth and development.
Right from the womb to the age of adolescence, a child experiences various stages of growth and transformations in the body. These changes happen at different time intervals and pace. Child growth and development occur right from the stage when the child is an embryo to the stage when it completes adolescence and becomes an adult. During each stage, the child goes through diverse developmental transformations.
Child growth can be divided into two major phases. The first one being the fetal development (in which the child is inside the womb and undergoes basic physical development such as the formation of vital organs) often termed as the pre-birth phase. Whereas, the second (post-birth) phase is observed after the birth when the child grows physically as well as mentally.
Almost every child’s development occurs at the same pace when he/she is inside the womb. But after the birth, the time duration of child growth and development stages vary due to miscellaneous influential factors which affect the process to a very large extent. In simple language, a child is ‘manufactured’ inside the womb and then it is ‘trained and transformed’ after the birth until it turns into an adult. Understanding the child growth and development stages help the parents to have a deep and proper insight of the phases their child goes through during the pregnancy period and after the birth.
PRE BIRTH PHASE (FETAL DEVELOPMENT)
A child is inside the mother’s womb for a period of 9 months. This phase is divided into ‘trimesters’ categorized on the basis of baby’s physical development. Generally, the pregnancy starts with the occurrence of the first day of the last menstrual period. As the fertilization takes place the egg starts to divide into multiple cells.
During the initial stage of the first trimester, the child is nothing but a couple of layers of cells.
This is the most crucial stage of child growth and development because during this stage, the heart of the child is formed and the intestines start developing. Gradually the cells start to multiply very quickly and within 8-9 weeks, the child grows to the size of 1 inch! The vital organs are formed and they expand in the coming months. After the 11th week, the movement starts. The child can curl and uncurl the fingers by now. By the next two weeks, toes emerge from the feet and start a curly movement, the kidneys start functioning and brain grows at a rapid pace. Fingerprints are formed and the child grows to 3 inches (2 inches of growth in 4 weeks!).
In the second trimester, the child acquires basic senses. Taste buds start forming, the eyes can detect light. After the 16th week of pregnancy, the child growth will increase very rapidly. The foetus will gain a lot of weight and will also increase in size. In the seventeenth week, the skeleton will become harder and lose its flexible nature. Simultaneously, the umbilical cord will gain strength. By the upcoming two weeks, noticeable development and changes will take place. The genitals will be developed to an extent that they can be observed using ultrasound. This is the phase when the child gains the power of hearing and can understand sound! In the 20th week, the baby begins swallowing and starts creating meconium. The foetus can move and the eyebrows are developed in the following week. In the 22nd and 23rd week of pregnancy, the baby can sense the movements of the mother’s body and her belly starts to grow. By the end of 27th week, the baby starts to inhale amniotic fluid which is a positive indicator for breathing. The child can now suck fingers and can open and close the eyes. This is the stage where the child weighs around 1.5 lbs (660 grams).
This is the last trimester of foetal development. By this time, the child can open the eyes and can detect the small amount of light that permeates through the womb. In the 29th month of pregnancy, the child’s muscles and lungs pick up growth rate. The skull starts increasing itself in size (making space for the brain to grow). In the upcoming two weeks, the child starts kicking strongly and it weighs just over 3 pounds. In the 33rd week of pregnancy, the child weighs 4 pounds and its central nervous system starts developing. After 38 weeks of fertilization, the foetus starts to gain around one ounce per day and the grip of its palm becomes firm. It is said that in the 39th week of pregnancy, the child is developed completely and is approximately the size of a pumpkin! By this time the child weighs almost 3.5 kilograms and grows up to 50 centimetres. (This is the average number. It may vary).
Until now, the child has undergone basic anatomical growth and development. Now we shall look at the second (post-birth) phase of child growth and development.
POST BIRTH PHASE
This is the phase when the child experiences physical transformation along with mental transformation. This is the most important child growth and development phase considering the overall wellbeing of the child when he/she grows to an adult person.
The post-birth child growth and development stages are stated below:
- Infancy (birth to 1-year-old)
- Toddler (1 year to 3 years old)
- Pre-school (3 years to 6/7 years old)
- School (6/7 years to 11 years for girls and 13 years for boys)
- Adolescence (11-18 years for girls and 13-20 years for boys)
By the time child is 6 months old, he/she starts understanding and chooses to gaze at faces and bright colors instead of randomly looking somewhere. The child can now lift the head when rests upon tummy. Gradually, the baby now starts to laugh at things, can sit easily on a chair or when his/her back is supported. This is the stage when the child starts to put everything into mouth because of the toothing. In the next 6 months, the child can now partially say his first words and start trying to walk on feet. In this stage, the child likes to be in motion always.
This is the stage when the child gains considerable intelligence. He begins understanding stories, talking and even reading and scribbling on walls and books. At this stage, a child learns to run and keep running everywhere. By this time, he can now name basic colors, use spoons and forks (with some aid) and vocabulary are increased. When a child touches 3 years of age, he/she is ready to learn new things.
Pre-school and School Stage (Early-Middle Childhood)
This is that stage in a child’s growth and development, in which the grasping power of the brain is at its maximum. During this phase, the external factors influence the child to a very large extent. A child asks silly and basic questions, might use language that isn’t nice, develop a sense of being social and like to play with friends and win.
In the schooling (middle childhood) stage, a child develops hobbies and interests like playing a sport or painting. The curiosity increases. The child now begins to ask logical questions and tries to get the answers.
Adolescent Stage (Late childhood)
This is the final stage of childhood which is also called as the ‘teen’ age. By this age, hormonal secretion increases and the child undergoes drastic physical and mental changes. The growth of hair around genitals and armpits can be seen. Differential features amongst the two sexes can be seen. The child experiences sudden mood swings and signs of frustration and anger are seen.
By the end of the adolescent phase, a child turns into an adult and in this way, childhood comes to an end and the child is now an adult.
The growth and development of a child depends upon many factors such as nutrition, growth environment and genetics.
This is the most crucial phase in a person’s life because this phase defines the basic thought process and thinking of an individual. It is said that a child’s brain is like wet clay. It can be moulded into any shape which has a huge impact on the child’s life.