Grandmothers always say “a growing baby is a healthy baby,” and this is so true. To know if your child is on track, you must use the baby growth chart at all times. This is a major tool that pediatricians use to plot the physical development of your baby, which includes their weight, length, and head measurements.
During each wellness checkup, the baby’s chart will be filled out. And although it looks intimidating with the curves, dots, weight, and height percentiles, it is very easy to decipher if you have just a little background information.
So, the curves you see on the baby’s chart usually reflect their average growth in length and weight. Boys and girls have different growth curves. When you take the baby for a checkup, the doctor will measure the baby’s weight and length. They will then put a dot on the graph so they can plot the latest gains.
How Often Should The Baby’s Growth Be Measured?
This happens during each checkup. The doctor will use their measuring tape and put the baby on the scale which happens at birth, in the first 3-5 days, then months 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, and 30. After that, you can do it annually.
What the doctor is looking for is a consistent growth pattern. Pediatricians also advise that you shouldn’t really bother tracking the baby’s weight at home, just wait for the mandatory checkups.
What Do The Weight And Height Percentiles Really Mean?
A baby’s weight and height chart usually reflects how they compare with the average growth for a baby. Low numbers usually mean that the baby is on the smaller and lighter side, while the high numbers mean that the baby is taller and heavier.
For example, out of 100 babies, if your baby is in the 40th percentile in terms of height, this means that 39 babies are smaller, and 59 bigger babies. Keep in mind, however, that it is not a contest.
Bigger is not always considered better and smaller is also not worse. A baby’s growth is a reflection of the stature of the family and how much they are eating. It is actually more about the amount than the type of food.
Online Baby Growth Charts
According to the APP, The American Academy of Pediatrics, you should use the WHO growth charts for babies from the time they are born till they turn 24 months. This chart is known as The WHO child growth standards.
These charts were created in 2006 and they are based on a baby’s optimal growth rates for breastfed babies in Europe and the US. After 24 months, the pediatrician may continue with the same growth charts or they can start using the Centers for Disease charts.
The Boy Growth Chart
This is the WHO baby boy chart. It outlines the optimal growth measurements which include the weight, length, and head circumference for a baby from 1 to 12 months old.
The Girl Growth Chart
This is the WHO baby girl chart. It outlines the optimal growth measurements which include the weight, length, and head circumference for a baby girl from 1 to 12 months old.
What If Growth Is Abnormal?
The doctor is really in the best position to keep track of your baby and they will certainly speak up if they feel concerned about the progress of your baby. Here’s how they are likely to address the different positions on the growth chart.
If The Baby Is Underweight
This is not similar to not growing. If your baby is measured and they are on the low side of the weight curve but are still growing well, they will probably not be too concerned about it, especially if the rest of the family is thin.
However, if the baby’s weight is significantly below average and is not growing well, they may want to find out whether the baby is getting enough food.
If The Baby Is Overweight
This could be as a result of overfeeding. The current trend reported by doctors shows more and more babies becoming overweight, and they then go on to grow into overweight adults.
Most babies may, however, slim down if they start being mobile and can sit up, crawl, roll, and walk. You will rarely see a too-rapid weight gain that is associated with health complications in babies. However, if you feel concerned, talk to your doctor about it.
With babies, it is important to always note that they are beyond compare. Each child grows at their own pace, and there is no competition. You must keep the baby at their own pace and ensure that you do not become overwhelmed if they are not developing as you would expect.