The Millennium Baby

by JAMES TOZER, Daily Mail

He is called Jack, and she's Chloe. They are ten months old.

Neither is yet sleeping through the night, but both know how to wave 'bye-bye' to their parents.

They are not real babies, however, but 'typical' ones, identifed by a Millennium study.

Researchers drew up a picture of them after interviewing the parents of almost 19,000 babies born between September 2000 and January last year to find out what their lives were like two months short of their first birthday.

Their findings will be made available to the policy-makers who help shape our society in the future.

The study found that the vast majority of the babies' fathers (85 per cent) had attended the birth, with 71.3 per cent having changed a nappy at least once - although only 43.5 per cent did so daily.

In England, a slight majority of the babies (51 per cent) were boys, fractionally more than in the UK as a whole, and the most common first name was Jack everywhere except Scotland, where it was Lewis.

Chloe was the most popular girl's name in England and Wales, but Scottish babies were more likely to be called Lucy, while in Northern Ireland Lauren was most common.

More than a fifth of the English babies were born by Caesarean section (21 per cent), rising to 23 per cent in Wales, while the longest labour time recorded was 100 hours.

By ten months, more than 99 per cent of babies were on solid foods but only 12 per cent were walking.

Among other questions parents were asked about their offspring's talents at that age were the ability to nod (17 per cent could), to wave 'bye- bye' 67 per cent) and to sleep through the night (24 per cent).

Just 7 per cent slept in their parents' bed at night.

The report is the first of a series which will follow the lives of the 18,819 youngsters - including 246 sets of twins and ten sets of triplets.

Dubbed the Millennium Cohort Study, it is the fourth in a series of national birth studies that have followed the lives of babies born in 1946, 1958 and 1970.

Boys in the latest survey were born weighing an average of 7lb 8oz, up 2oz from 1970, while for girls it was up 1.5oz to 7lb 4oz - although the averages are still lower than in 1946 when they were 7lb 10.5oz and 7lb 6oz respectively.

Paediatrician Professor Neville Butler, helping to run the survey, said: "The post-War drop in birthweights was mainly down to the growing number of Caesarean births.

"But although these are now around twice as common as they were in 1970, the considerable improvement in mothers' nutrition has seen a lot of the lost ground recovered."

Breast- feeding has followed a similar trend.

In 1946, three-quarters of mothers tried breastfeeding, but by 1970 that had slipped to just 38 per cent.

However, 21st century babies are much more likely to be breast-fed than their mothers were, at 70 per cent.

The study is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the Institute of Education.

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