Every baby grows at a different pace. Given the wide range of “normal” sizes, it is hard to know whether your child measures up to standards.
That is why, pediatricians track physical developments like length, weight and head circumference with baby growth charts.
Most babies (newborn) follow a predictable level of growth during their first year. you can track the length of the baby using the average growth charts.
The average length of a full-term newborn is 19-20 inches or 49-50 centimeters, however, a length of around 18.5-20.9 inches or 47-53 cm is also normal. Male babies are slightly taller than their female counterparts and the height is measured from the top of their head to the heel of their foot.
While the height-weight chart is a good tool to monitor your child’s growth, here are some tips that can help you monitor your child’s growth and also to keep in mind.
No matter how short or tall or thin/fat your child looks as long as he or she is active and alert, there is nothing to worry about.
This chart is just an approximate indicator; however, you can keep checking with your pediatrician for a thorough analysis.
If your child seems dull or disinterested in day-to-day activities this is when perhaps you will need professional advice and consultation.
What is then a baby growth chart?
Genetics plays a very crucial role in the physical development of your child as much as factors like environment, nutrition, activity level, and health condition.
Similarly, breastfed babies have different weight and height standards as compared to their formula-fed counterparts.
As a result, many parents are in constant worry about what a ‘really normal’ baby should look like, and keep worrying if their little one is bigger or smaller than the other infant in comparison.
For this, the National Canter for Health Statistics developed the first chart of child growth standards in 1977.
The centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) has since analyzed up to date height weight statistics and released new charts in 2000.
The World Health Organization also distributed international baby growth rate charts in 2006.
All about growth charts, anything you want to know
What does the baby growth chart measure?
Most of this chart measures length, height, weight, and head circumference.
i). Length: This is done using a tape measure where the doctor uses it to determine the distance from the head to feet usually while the baby is stretched on an exam table.
ii). Weight: This is done using a baby’s scalp, to give weight measurements. If the baby is under 12 months or a year, you will need to take off their clothes before laying them on the scale.
iii). Head circumference: This is also examined using a tape measure, head circumference gives an impression of the baby’s development. A too-big head may symbolize a condition called hydrocephalus, which is characterized by excess fluid on the brain.
On the other hand, if the head is small, the baby may have delays in physical development.
Pediatricians take these measurements at Baby’s regular wellness exams. Plotting the information on a growth chart lets them notice patterns and consistencies.
Growth charts also compare your baby’s measurement with those of average infant. It is important to note that separate growth charts exist for boys and girls.
Kids with certain conditions such as Down Syndrome or prematurity may also have different growth curve chart.
How to read baby growth charts
The baby growth charts can be hard to interpret at first glance. Here’s how to read WHO ad CDC charts for length, weight.
- Locate your child’s length or weight on the left or right of the grid (y-axis), this entirely depends on what you are measuring.
- Find your baby’s monthly age on the top of the graph also called the x-axis.
- Follow the lie till the point where they intersect, the line should cross somewhere along the curves which represent percentile.
- Follow the curve to see the percentile on the y-axis of the graph, the percentile lines show your baby’s measurements compared to other baby’s measurements.
- Generally, higher percentiles mean that your kid has bigger measurements than average and vice versa for smaller percentiles. Take an example if the curve line is 75 when measuring length, then your baby is in the 75th percentile for length and it means that 25% of the babies are shorter than your child.
Interpretation of the baby growth chart data
Instead of analyzing the actual measurements, doctors pay attention to patterns and consistencies on the growth charts.
A constantly growing, proportionate babies do not raise any red flags, but a noticeable change in measurements should be closely examined.
If your child height and weight curve are lower than other kids of the same age, the baby might have a genetic predisposition to being short and skinny but if they go from high weight percentile to a low weight percentile then he’s probably not eating enough.
They might also have a health condition that causes weight loss such as celiac disease. On the other hand, gaining lots of weight for age means the baby is eating too much which could lead to future health problems.
Average baby sizes through the first year
The World Health Organization WHO published a standard infant growth chart based on the standard growth of children in six countries including the US in optimal environments including breastfeeding.
According to WHO, the average lengths for males and females are shown in the Table below:
|Age||Male Baby||Female baby|
|At Birth||19.69 in (50cm)||19.29 in(50cm)|
|1 month||21.65 inches (55cm)||21.26 inches (54 cm)|
|2 months||23.03 inches (58.5 cm)||22.44 inches (57 cm)|
|3 months||24.21 inches (61.5 cm)||23.62 inches (60 cm)|
|4 months||25.20 inches (64 cm)||24.41 inches (62 cm)|
|5 months||25.98 inches (66 cm)||25.20 inches (64 cm)|
|6 months||26.77 inches (68 cm)||25.48 inches (66 cm)|
|7 months||27.17 inches (69 cm)||26.38 inches (67 cm)|
|8 months||27.95 inches (71 cm)||27.17 inches (69 cm)|
|9 months||28.35 inches (72 cm)||27.56 inches (70 cm)|
|10 months||28.74 inches (73 cm)||28.15 inches (71.5 cm)|
|11 months||29.33 inches (74.5 cm)||28.74 inches (73 cm)|
|12 months||29.92 in (76 cm)||29.13 inches (74 cm)|
The above stats and numbers are just average.
Children can be healthy at a wide range of heights, therefore, no matter how long a baby is at birth, they are likely to grow at similar rates to other babies.
This also means that, if a baby is born longer than average, they are likely to remain like this during their first year of growth or two.
Like adults, babies are also unique and there is no right length as long as a baby is growing normally and does not suddenly fall well below their previous growth percentile, usually, they are fine.
Baby height and weight growth
At age 1
Toddlers will grow at a slower pace this year or point in their life and will gain about a half-pound a month and grow a total of about 4-5 inches in height.
A kid will sprout about 3 more inches by the end of their third year and will have quadrupled the birth weight by gaining about 4 more pounds.
A pre-schooler will grow about 3 inches and gain 4 pounds each year.
As argued by Daniel Rauch, an associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, you may find that your child starts to shed baby fat from his face and looks lankier since kids’ limbs grow more by the time they are preschoolers.
Starting at 5 years old, kids begin to grow about 2 inches and gain 4 pounds each year until puberty. Girls often reach their full height about two years after their first period. Boys usually hit their adult height around age 17.
Baby’s Weight by Age
From Birth to 4 days old
The average child weighs about 7.25 pounds. Boys have a head circumference of about 13.5 inches and girls measure in at 13.3 inches, according to the national center for health statistics.
The parent’s advisor Ari Brown of babies 411 says that a baby drops 5 to 10% of their total body weight in their first few days of life, because of the fluid they lose through urine and stool.
5 days to 3 months
Babies can gain about an ounce a day, on average during this period, or half a pound a week, and they should be back to their birth weight by their second-week visit. Expect a growth surge around 3 weeks and then another one at 6 weeks.
3 months to 6 months
A baby should gain about half a pound every two weeks. By 6 months, they should have doubled the first birthday.
7 months to 12 months
A child is still gaining about a pound a month. If you are nursing, your baby may not gain quite as much as a pound, or they may dip slightly from one percentile to another on the growth chart.
Tanya Altmann a pediatrician based in Los Angeles and author of mommy calls says that at this age children tend to burn more calories as they are constantly in motion, either crawling or playing.
By the time they reach their first birthday, expect them to have growth 10 inches in length, tripled his birth weight and his head grown by about 4 inches.
Factors that influence your child’s growth
1. Heredity: Family history and genes or DNA plays a major role in determining your child’s height and weight. That is if you or your spouse is tall or carries the genes for height the child will be most probably taller, the opposite is also true.
2. Age-related growth curve: Generally, babies grow tremendously during the first year of their life. They might grow 10 cm in height and their weight might also triple from time of birth.
Generally, after the age of 1, the growth slows down considerably. This is the point and time when parents might become concerned when they do not see the same level of growth in their child.
However, kids do experience a few growth spurts once in a while with the last major growth spur being the puberty stage.
3. Sleep and nutrition: Not everything is dependent on age and heredity. A nutritious diet and an adequate amount of sleep are also major contributors to your child’s healthy growth.
Sleep patterns may vary for each child. On average, children need anywhere between 10-12hours of sleep every night as sleep provides the body with the necessary rest that is required for adequate body growth.
Growing children need a plethora of vitamins and minerals to spur their growth. Therefore, a well-balanced diet that includes the necessary nutrients will help children achieve their growth potential to the maximum
4. Growth environment: This is another important factor that affects your child’s growth. This includes but not limited to your eating habits, as well as the level of physical activity at home.
As a family, if you have unhealthy eating habits like often binging on fried and high-calorie foods and junk or not eating meals on time can affect height and weight.
5. Hormones: Some children with hormonal imbalance grow slowly or more quickly than their peers. deficiency of the growth hormone can lead to slow child growth and development.
6. Medication: Some medications such as steroids drugs containing prednisone may stunt growth.
7. Health: Some children with certain genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome may be smaller than others. Certain health conditions such as juvenile arthritis can also affect growth.
For parents constantly worrying about their child’s well-being, it almost becomes second nature to them.
During their formative years, parents make sure that their child gets adequate nutrition required for healthy growth.
No wonder, then it becomes all the more stressful for them when they are questioned either about their child’s weight or lack of height and the constant comparison to other kids makes the matters worse especially kids who are in the same age group.
However, this growth disparity among children of the same age group is quite common.
However, if you are still worried about your child’s height-weight ratio then we bring you a height weight chart based on your kids’ age to help you ease out.
When it comes to height, even the constant comparison with taller peers can affect your child’s self-confidence.
In turn, this may cause your child to be disinterested in eating healthy meals or indulging in regular physical activities all of which will affect the overall growth.