How can you tell if your baby is thriving?

As a new parent, you will have some natural instinct that helps you determine whether your baby is thriving; however, as a new parent, you will also have some entirely natural anxiety concerning whether your baby is growing and developing as they should.

So, how do you know whether your baby is thriving? Of course, you can keep track of their weight and height, but there are other less measurable indicators of a baby’s development that you can look out for. In the article below, we consider the important issue of how to tell if your baby is thriving.

The “red book” and tracking weight gain in the early weeks

Weight gain is perhaps the most well-monitored and obvious indicator of your baby’s early-stage development. Your baby will be weighed at birth, will likely lose a little weight in the first few days and then, all being well, will begin to put on weight. If there are any concerns that your baby is not putting on weight, this is likely to be flagged by your midwife or health visitor. Your baby will also have a 6-week check, with the progress recorded in your personal child health record; the “red book”.

You should not be concerned if your baby is in the top or bottom centiles on the growth charts, what matters more is that they follow a consistent centile curve over the first year of life. However, fluctuations are to be expected and it’s more important that your baby’s weight, length and head circumference grow consistently over time.


There is only one way that your baby can gain weight and grow: by feeding well. If your baby is latching on well and your breasts are emptying and then refilling with milk – newborn babies breastfeed around 8-12 times every 24 hours(1) – chances are that they’re thriving.

However, be aware that not all babies feed in the same way. For example, some babies may “cluster feed”. Cluster feeding is a term used to describe feeds that happen more frequently across a more condensed period, often at night. A child will usually cluster feed because they are experiencing or are about to experience a growth spurt. However, growth spurts do not usually last longer than a few days, so don’t worry – periods of intensive feeding will pass.

Developmental milestones

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about developmental milestones; your baby’s development will be broken down into four main groups: fine motor development, gross motor function, social development and language development. Some of the most significant milestones include the following:

  • Rolling: 4 to 6 months.
  • Lifting the head: by 3 months.
  • Sitting up: 6 to 9 months.
  • Crawling: 6 to 11 months.
  • Standing: 6 to 9 months.
  • Cruising: 8 to 11 months.
  • Walking: 9 to 18 months.
  • Talking: 12 to 18 months

It is important to understand that not all babies reach their developmental milestones at the same time. As such, you do not need to be anxious if your child appears to be a little late in hitting these milestones. Sometimes they may get there on their own; sometimes they may get there with a little help. Talk to your GP or health visitor if you are worried. Possible concerns you might wish to raise, include the following:

  • Any limpness or floppiness in your baby’s body or limbs
  • Any sign that your child is not mobile enough
  • Unresponsiveness to loud noises
  • Not crying or vocalising
  • Not following you with their eyes
  • Not gaining weight


There is nothing like watching your child grow and thrive before your very eyes. However, some children develop faster than others so it is inevitable that at some point you will have concerns about whether your child is developing at a healthy rate.

Most of the time, they probably are, but if you have any concerns at all, you should discuss these with your GP or health visitor.


Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.