What is a Baby Growth Chart?
As the name suggests, it is a chart that helps you and your pediatrician track your baby’s growth over a period of time. Girls and boys have slightly different growth patterns and therefore have different charts.
It could look very intimidating at first, with all the curves and percentiles and plottings. We have compiled this article to cover all the doubts new parents have and help you understand your baby’s growth patterns.
How are the growth chart measurements taken?
Your baby is called for a general check-up on a regular basis. The doctor tracks your baby’s progress using 3 parameters: Height, weight and head circumference.
During these visits, these parameters are measured and plotted onto a chart. These markings help us understand the baby’s growth pattern over a period of time. Also, the chart is based on the general trend of the growth of same-gender babies, of the same age. This gives the doctor and the parent an idea of where their baby stands in comparison to other babies, in the form of percentiles.
How are the percentile values calculated and how to decipher the results?
The doctor puts the baby’s measurements onto the chart. Now based on how many children have higher or lower readings than your baby, the percentile value is obtained.
In general, higher percentiles means your kid has bigger measurements than the average kids – and vice versa for smaller percentiles. For example, if the curved line is “85” when measuring length, then your baby is in the 85th percentile for length. This means that 15% of babies are taller than your child, and 85% of babies are shorter than him/her.
Remember that all babies grow at different paces. Measuring at the 90th percentile isn’t any better than the 15th, 30th, or 60th percentile. [Bigger number doesn’t always mean better. A lot of these values depend on the baby’s genes. Taller parents tend to have taller babies and vice versa]. As long as your baby is experiencing normal growth patterns, he will likely grow up happy and healthy.
There can be a few episodes of growth spurts as well as temporary slowdowns due to an illness. These little deviations from the curve are a normal phenomenon.
How does an ideal growth curve look like?
A constant curve is a sign of good health. If there is a sudden shift in the graph, like a jump from the 3rd percentile to the 93rd, or the reverse, it is a sign of concern and your pediatrician might do some additional screening to understand the cause.
How do I use these charts for a premature baby?
Your pediatrician will use the corrected or the adjusted age of your baby for this purpose. The adjusted age is calculated from the age the baby was ideally supposed to be born; rather than their actual birth date. Most babies who are born premature or with a low birth weight catch up with the normal range by their second birthday.
How frequently should I measure my baby’s height and weight?
The answer is never. Yes, there are parents who do it every second day. And looking at that, you might feel like doing it too. But, that is not at all required. It is only important that your kid is happy, healthy, sleeps well and feeds properly. The measurements, and maintaining your baby’s growth curve is the pediatrician’s responsibility, not yours! They measure your baby in the same manner on the same machine, every single time, to get the most accurate measurements. Also, the doctor will schedule additional checkups if he or she feels the need to do so. So leave your worries behind and have a good time!!