I'm taking 6 months away from my day job to look after my son, Archie, who is now 10 months old. I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences.
Archie had his weigh-in session at the child health clinic this week. In the UK, these clinics are provided by the NHS at drop-in centres in the community and they're an opportunity to check progress and get advice from the Health Visitor outside of any formal appointments. Parents are provided with a "red book" - the personal health record for the child, which contains information on immunisations, screening and development. Part of the book includes WHO growth charts for weight, head circumference, length (for under two years) and height (two to four years) and these are used to plot your child's measurements to check they are developing as expected.
The charts show the optimal growth curves for a selection of percentiles. Archie is a big unit and, since about month three, has been tracking the 99th percentile for weight and head circumference, and around the 95th for length. He's obviously big, but he's in proportion and we don't have any concerns. People do tend to remark on his size, though.
It's interesting to consider what impact his size will make on his life. In general, being big is an alpha male trait rather than a geek one but it may confer some life advantages - salary is correlated with height, as also is people's perceptions of success. He'll also have more opportunities on the sports field, if he's so inclined.
What they don't tell you is that the cost of bringing up a big child will be greater than a small one. We've already gone through 7 sets of clothes - he's been wearing clothes for 18-24 months since he was nine months old. He's also outgrown his first car seat and almost his Fisher-Price Jumperoo (which is a great, if expensive, toy). I guess it'll even out over time but it definitely feels hard on the wallet. Had we been more astute we may have made more use of nearly new sales or one of the new on-line services that let parents reduce the cost of upgrading their little one's wardrobe, such as Bertie and Bean, which is a new UK start-up in the area and seems like a nice idea.
Archie is bigger and looks older than he is, and this seems to affect people's expectations of him. His size makes him look more like a toddler than a baby so I think people interact with him differently. I've even found myself defending him - "He's only N months old!" - when people seem to be expecting a more mature response than he can give. I suspect this will continue as he gets older and that may well have a cumulative effect. Expectations are, I think, a driver for growth and development. I do wonder if the aforementioned studies are influenced by this sort of thing - if people are always expecting more of you then maybe you'll deliver more than your peers.
Of course, I'm kind of hoping that having an alpha trait like height won't make him an alpha type in other ways. I like to think alpha males are like alpha releases - crude, with some missing features and a myriad of subtle defects. Hopefully, Archie will grow up to be at least a Beta and maybe even a GA release male.
Speaking of defects, did you spot the copy and paste error in the image above? I must admit I was surprised to find such an error on a tape measure.