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How To Track Your Child's Progress Through a Baby Growth Chart

How To Track Your Child's Progress Through a Baby Growth Chart

Watching your child reach each milestone can make you feel that time is passing by too fast. Your tiny baby who was once in your womb for nine months is getting bigger as each day goes by. You might be wondering, “Is my child’s growth normal for their age? And when should I be concerned?” The answers to your questions can be easy to find. You can learn more about your child’s progress through a baby growth chart.

Understanding the Baby Growth Chart

Every parent wonders if their child’s growth is on track. And at times — though they shouldn’t — they may even compare the size of their child with other children of the same age. Sometimes, questions may also arise due to other factors that affect the growth of your child.

A baby growth chart shows how your child is developing through projections of their height, weight, and head size. This then helps you and your doctor track their continuous development. On some occasions, these charts may provide an early indication if your child has a medical problem.

Pediatricians use a baby growth chart as a standard measure during regular physical checkups to identify whether or not your child is growing at the right pace, according to their own individual growth curve.

Every child is different, so a baby growth chart is a better way to measure proper development than comparing your child to others.

Girls and boys grow in different patterns and at different rates. For this reason, there are different growth charts for boys and girls.

How Will Your Baby Be Measured?

At birth, the doctor will weigh and measure your baby. During succeeding checkups, your child’s pediatrician will perform regular measurements to track their growth. They usually measure three important things:

  • Weight
  • Height (measured while lying down for children under the age of three, and standing up for children over the age of three)
  • Head circumference (measured by wrapping a measuring tape around the back of the head above the eyebrows)

Babies under the age of two are usually measured using a special infant scale. This scale is particularly useful for measuring the weight of newborns.

If you have a premature baby, the age on the chart must be adjusted to take into account the weeks until they reach the age of two. And by the time they are 2 years of age, doctors will then calculate for the child’s body mass index (BMI). This index helps in estimating a child’s body fat.

There are some cases wherein a child’s weight fluctuate from day to day. This is normal for growing babies. The measurements are then compared with the standard (normal) range for children of the same gender and age while taking into account your child’s individual growth pattern.

These growth charts are used until your child reaches the age of 18.

What Are the Percentiles For? How Do You Read a Baby Growth Chart?

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) growth standards are typically used to calculate infant growth (aged 0 to 2).

Percentiles refer to the measurements showing where a child ranks in comparison to other children. These are depicted on the baby growth chart as curved lines.

When your pediatrician plots a child’s weight and height on a chart, one can see which percentile line those measurements fall on:

  • The higher the percentile number, the taller or heavier a child is in comparison to other children in the same age group and gender.
  • The lower the percentile number, the smaller the child from the rest.

There is no such thing as an ideal number in the charts. Healthy children come in all shapes, and sizes. The infant that lies on the ninth percentile can be as healthy as the one in the ninety-ninth percentile.

Preferably, each child should follow the same growth pattern over time, increasing in height and weight at the same rate, and in proportion to one another. This means that a child’s growth curve usually stays on a specific percentile line. So, if your 4-year-old boy has always been on the 10th percentile line, he is still growing in line with his pattern. This is a good sign for his growth and development.

Key Takeaways

It is important to keep in mind that children develop at their own pace. Some children will always be small while others are bigger than the others. And that is normal.

There are several factors affecting one’s height and weight — genetics, gender, nutrition, and physical activity, to name a few. And many of these factors can differ greatly from one family to the next.

What matters most is that they are growing at the expected rate for their percentile. A baby growth chart can help you and your doctor determine if your child is achieving their optimal growth.

Learn more about your baby here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Standards, https://www.who.int/tools/child-growth-standards/standards Accessed December 17, 2021

WHO Growth Charts, https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/who_charts.htm Accessed December 17, 2021

Understanding baby growth charts, https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/understanding-baby-growth-charts Accessed December 17, 2021

Growth Charts, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/growth-charts.html Accessed December 17, 2021

Growth Chart, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001910.htm Accessed December 17, 2021

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Written by Fiel Tugade Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Vincent Sales