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Pediatric Vital Signs - Normal Vital Signs for Children

Pediatric Vital Signs - Normal Vital Signs for Children

The birth of a baby ushers in joy and happiness in the parents' lives. However, children, especially newborns, are prone to fall sick because of their delicate immune systems, making proper monitoring essential for the child's health.
Medha Godbole
Last Updated: Mar 29, 2018
The normal vital signs for a child may vary depending on various factors, and it is essential to know these vitals, as any change in them can be indicative of an ailment. Though doctors always check the vital signs when you think your child is sick, it is better to know a few of the signs and their normal ranges, so you don't have to keep running to a doctor every time you think something is amiss.

Here are a few vital signs to be checked to know if the child is in a normal healthy state or is suffering from an illness. However, in case of any doubt, it is highly advisable to take your child to a pediatrician, who is a doctor specially trained to monitor a child's vital signs and recommend the proper course of action.

Vital Signs and their Normal Range for Children

As mentioned earlier, vitals signs for children can be different from adults, and change even as the baby grows. The most important vital signs to check include temperature, blood pressure, weight, and heartbeat. Given below are the ranges for these vitals, taking into consideration the different ages of a child. Any abnormality in these vitals for children should be taken seriously, and a doctor's advice be sought.

Heart Rate
The heart rate, also known as the pulse rate, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. In infants, the heart rate tends to be higher, but should not be higher than 150 beats per minute. Anything above 150 bpm can be indicative of some health problem in the child.

The heart rate is measured by a stethoscope or heart monitor, or simply by feeling the pulse on the wrists or feet. The normal heart rate for infants tends to be higher, but it slows down as the child grows up.

Child's Age Group Beats (per Minute)
Newborn 100 - 150
Infant 90 - 120
Toddler 80 - 120
Pre-school 70 - 110
School 65 - 110
12 - 16 55 - 85

Respiration rate, also known as the breathing rate, is the number of breaths a person takes in a minute. In children and infants, the respiration rate tends to be higher, but gradually decreases as the infant grows. Sick people, or people suffering from any ailment, have a higher respiration rate than healthy individuals.

The respiration rate is measured in breaths per minute, by observing the rise and fall of the child's chest, or by using a stethoscope. It is usually measured at rest. Anything between 12 - 20 breaths per minute is normal, taking into account the age of the child. The table on the left provides detailed information.

Child's Age Group Breaths (per Minute)
Newborn 33 - 55
Infant 30 - 45
Toddler 25 - 40
Pre-school 20 - 30
School 14 - 22
12 - 16 12 - 18

Weight of children, especially newborns and infants, is officially measured in pounds. The average weight of a healthy newborn is about 7½ pounds, but can range from 5 to 10 pounds. After birth, the weight of the baby should increase, and if it does not, can be indicative of an underlying health problem. The weight change from a newborn to infant to toddler increases exponentially.

Weight gain is an important factor that helps doctors monitor the health of the child. A healthy newborn's weight will double by the 5th month, and triple by the end of the year.

Child's Age Group Weight (in Pounds)
Newborn 4.5 - 7
Infant 9 - 22
Toddler 22 - 31
Pre-school 31 - 40
School 40 - 90
12 - 16 90 - 100

Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted on the arteries' inner walls by the flow of blood. Measuring the blood pressure gives doctors an idea of how hard the heart is working. In infants and children, the blood pressure increases as they age.

Blood pressure is measured in two values, the systolic pressure, which is the force of the blood on the walls of the arteries when the heart is pumping, and the diastolic pressure, which is the force of the blood on the walls of the arteries when the heart is at rest. Blood pressure is measured using a sphygmomanometer or a blood pressure monitor.

Age Systolic Pressure Diastolic Pressure
Newborn 65 - 85 45 - 55
Infant 70 - 90 50 - 65
Toddler 90 - 105 55 - 70
Pre-school 95 - 110 60 - 75
School 100 - 120 60 - 75
12 - 16 110 - 135 65 - 85
[Measured in Millimeters of Mercury (mmHg)]

As body temperature is prone to slight variations caused by the environment and the time of day, it becomes a bit difficult to decide on the ideal body temperature for infants and newborns. In children, especially newborns and infants, a temperature of 100.4° to 101.3° Fahrenheit is considered as a fever.

A child's temperature can be taken using a thermometer - either by placing it in the child's mouth, ear, armpit or rectum.

Age 0 to 2 yrs 3 - 10 yrs Above 11 yrs
Oral - - 95.5 - 99.5 97.6 - 99.6
Rectal 97.9 - 100.4 97.9 - 100.4 98.6 - 100.6
Axillary 94.5 - 99.1 96.6 - 98.0 95.3 - 98.4
Ear 97.5 - 100.4 97.0 - 100.0 96.6 - 99.7
[Measured in (°F) Degrees Fahrenheit]

These are the normal vitals for children that are initially checked to determine their health. Any variation from the normal stage could be a sign for the onset of an illness. It is best to get periodic and regular health check-ups done for children, right from infancy, to avoid complications and to ensure a happy and healthy future for the child.

Disclaimer: This AptParenting article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.