Normal Pulse Rates in Children

By Juel Andrea

Pulse rate is the number of times a heart beats per minute. As we progress from childhood to adulthood, our pulse rate alters. We begin in life with a rapid heart that slowly mellows over time. Knowing what is a normal at various stages of childhood can help a parent refrain from worry, and notice abnormal rates that may signal a problem.

Normal Pulse for Newborns

A newborn's heart rate is incredibly rapid and can sound like galloping horses. Typically the baby's pulse lies between 120 beats per minute (bpm) to 160bpm. Changes in the environment, loud sounds, even switching from the arms of the mother to the father can cause the pulse to momentarily spike or lull, all of which is normal. There is really no cause for concern unless a newborn's heart rate is below 90 or above 200.

Normal Pulse for Babies Age 6 months to 1 Year

Over the first six months as the newborn acclimates to the world around her, her heart rate begins to calm. The average pulse drops about 10bpm to an average of 130.

Normal Pulse for Toddlers Age 1 to 2

Between the ages of 1 and 2 the baby's heart drops another 15bpm and is typically around 115. At this stage children are active, and even while at rest the body is growing, developing, digesting and assimilating. Thus the heart is hard at work.

Normal Pulse for Preschoolers Age 2-5

By preschool the child's heart rate has dropped by more than 50 beats per minute from the rate at birth. Even with this drop, the pulse is rapid compared to a typical adult's heart rate at typically between 95 and 140bpm with the average between 105 and 110. This is the resting pulse. Active preschoolers will often hover around 145 when playing and even up to 175 is perfectly normal while in a very active state.

Normal Pulse for Elementary Age Students Age 6-11

Over the next five years, from ages 6 to 11, the pulse typically drops a total of another 20 beats per minute. A child at this age will have a heart rate of 80 to 120. The heart pushes blood through out the body each time it contract's with the beat of our heart. In doing so it pushes blood out into our blood vessels which cycle through our body. When the body is smaller it takes less time to do this process, and the heart rate is therefore faster. As the body grows the heart does not have to work as rapidly to push blood through out the body and the resting heart rate decreases.

Normal Pulse for Middle Schoolers And Beyond

By the time a child hits middle school, his heart rate is nearly identical to an adult's. By age 12, there is no difference in pulse rates between an adult heart and a child's. The pulse rate is between 60bpm and 100bpm. Variance in pulse is due to the same factors that affect an adult's pulse: activity level, health, genetics and weight.

About the Author

Juel Andrea graduated Phi Beta Kappa with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English from the University of California, Berkeley. She then went on to receive a master's degree in education from the University of Virginia. First professionally published in 1992, Andrea's work has appeared in "Bankers," "Conde Naste Travel" and "Today's Christian Woman."