Assess Your Baby’s Growth Using Head Circumference

Assess Your Baby’s Growth Using Head Circumference

19 Dec 2017 | 6 min Read

Babychakra

Author | 1380 Articles

Your baby’s first year is a time of incredible growth. In fact, medical studies suggest that babies double their birth weight in just the first six months and triple their weight by the end of the first year. During every visit to the paediatrician, the doctor will make a note of several aspects related to your baby’s growth and development. These will include the weight, height, and the circumference of your baby’s head.

These measurements are then plotted on a growth chart and tracked over time. By recording these, the doctor can assess if your child is developing satisfactorily. Now, while the numbers may all seem ‘normal’ and indicate a healthy baby, for some parents the head circumference of their child could be a cause for worry. Is it too big? Is it too small? If that’s the case with you, here’s a guide on the normal head circumference of newborn.

What Is Head Circumference?

Head circumference refers to the measurement of the baby’s head around its largest area– between the middle of your baby’s forehead and the farthest part of the back of the head.

For measuring the average size of the newborn head, a tape measure is used that is placed just above the ears. Although it is a painless process, most babies dislike getting their head circumference measured and might become cranky. But what’s the normal head circumference of newborn?

What Is Normal Baby Head Circumference?

The normal infant head circumference is around 34.9 cm at birth. But this measurement is done a few days after birth, making this the average newborn head circumference.

After one month of age, the average infant head circumference would go up to 38.1 cm.

There will likely be a difference in the measurements of boys and girls of the same age, with boys measuring on the higher side. Besides, factors such as heredity can have an impact on the size of your baby’s head.

How Much Should Your Infant’s Head Grow Each Month?

All babies are different, hence, there are variations in the way they grow and develop. This is true in case of head circumference as well and the newborn head circumference normal range can also vary slightly.

With a rapid growth during the first four month, it is assumed that a baby’s head circumference will measure around 2 cm larger than the chest up to six months of age.

From six months to two years of age, the chest and head measurements will be the same. After two years, the body will grow much faster than the head.

Studies have shown that after two years, the baby’s body grows much faster than the head. | Image Source: pexels

Studies suggest that a small head size or slow growth rate (called microcephaly) might be a sign that the brain is not developing properly.

If the average newborn head circumference at birth is less than 34 cm, it can be a cause for concern as that’s the normal head circumference of newborn.

Baby Boy Head Circumference Chart By Age

The fontanel, a soft region on the baby’s head, closes as your baby turns 18 months of age. To know about your baby boy’s growth, it is critical to ensure his development is on track. The following is a reference chart to estimate the measurements of your newborn boy’s head circumference right up to the time he turns 18 months.

Age (in months)3rd Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)50th Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)75th Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)97th Percentile Head Circumference (cm)
031.4876235.8136737.0042638.85417
12.544.13646.4985347.3709148.96494
24.546.0087248.7206549.6776251.36998
3646.4334449.6839450.7559752.57205

Baby Girl Head Circumference Chart By Age

Take a look at the chart to estimate the measurements of your baby girl’s head circumference right up to the time she turns 18 months.

Age (in months)3rd Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)50th Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)75th Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)97th Percentile Head Circumference (in cm)
031.930234.7115635.8512438.1211
12.542.842645.1950846.0653247.65766
24.544.8467847.5368848.4754850.12271
3645.5828448.6334249.6665651.44519

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/html_charts/hcageinf.htm

Infant Head Circumference And Intelligence

Did you know that there is a relation between the normal head circumference of newborn and intelligence? Yes, you read that right.

Research has shown that children who had large head measurements at one year displayed higher IQ when aged between the ages of four and eight.

In addition to these, various other factors such as the age up to which the child is breastfed, educational qualifications of the parents, and the environment they grew up in all have an impact on the IQ level of the children.

Every child is different and develops at their own pace. | Image Source: pexels

Conclusion

Understanding how to read your baby’s growth chart and decoding the results can be a little overwhelming at times. But you need to keep in mind that every child is different and develops at their own pace. Hence, it is advisable to avoid any kind of comparison between your child’s growth to that of others.

Since your doctor will have a record of your baby’s measurements right from birth, he/ she will know if there is any cause for concern. The normal head growth in infants indicates that their brains are developing fine. If not, urinary, cardiac, skeletal and renal abnormalities, cerebral palsy along with epilepsy are some of the issues that might be detected. Early detection is helpful in seeking intervention including surgical options and most children who undergo treatment and surgery recover completely.

Besides, new parents should also keep some newborn baby care tips and need to follow certain precautions in handling newborn babies which are a requisite for the overall development of the little ones.

FAQs

What if the baby’s head is small?

If your baby’s head is small, the little one might have microcephaly. This can occur probably because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth.

Should I worry about my baby’s head circumference?

Don’t worry if your baby’s head is bigger or smaller than average. This can be part of the normal growing process.Studies suggest that boys have larger heads than girls.

Is 34 cm head circumference at birth normal?

Yes, the average head circumference at birth is about 34 cm.

Is the baby’s head size important for accessing growth?

The baby’s head size is important because it can indicate how well their brain is growing.

If your baby’s brain isn’t growing properly, they might have microcephaly, a condition in which your baby’s head is smaller than other children of the same age and sex.

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