The paper analyses growth velocity data of infants aged 0–11 months from Madura, Indonesia, with the aim of identifying the time of onset of linear growth retardation. Velocities are calculated as average velocities for mid‐point intervals, so that they can serve as comparative information for further studies. Secondly, the relation between weight and length velocities is tested. Thirdly, growth velocities are related to birthweight, length at birth and ponderal index (PI=weight/height3×100 in g/cm3). The anthropometric information of infants is taken from two large longitudinal studies, the East Java Pregnancy Studies Phase I and Phase II (EJPS I and II). These were conducted from August 1981 to December 1985 and January 1987 to December 1989, respectively, in two villages in Madura, Indonesia. The results support the following hypotheses: linear growth in the first year in Madurese infants shows two periods of deceleration. The early phase starts in the first month and is related to intra‐uterine growth. It lasts up to about 4–6 months. Children with normal birthweight but with a low PI grow slowest in length after birth. The second period is towards the second half of the first year, when differences in linear velocity decrease with the references and velocity distribution change. Differences in weight velocity increase during this period. Factors outside the intricate fetal mother–child relationship could start to play a role.