Growth Charts: More than Just the Numbers

As a parent, you’re familiar with the growth chart discussion that takes place at your pediatrician’s office. Doctors use the growth charts to record measurements of height weight and other factors at the child’s particular age. They consider what they see on the charts along with information about your child’s gender, nutrition, environment, genetics and other factors to determine if development is on track.

Of course, children grow within a wide range of shapes and sizes, and one measurement on the chart doesn’t reflect the full picture. The percentages on the chart aren’t like school grades from zero to 100 percent on a test, with low numbers being bad and high numbers good. They’re simply a record of how the measurement compares with 100 other children of the same age and gender.

What do the charts really measure? They measure the rate at which your baby or child is growing over time. The growth rate reflects a child’s overall health and nutrition.

Tips for Understanding Growth Chart Measurements

  • Growth charts are recorded to observe:
    • Birth to 36 months, girls and boys: Length and weight, head circumference for age
    • Ages two to 20 years: height and weight for age
  • Your pediatrician or nurse practitioner will explain to you how your child’s growth is trending. Rely on that interpretation rather than concentrating on a number.
  • Growth charts will probably show your baby doubling his birth weight by six months and tripling it by one year. If your baby’s growth pattern differs, ask your pediatrician or nurse practitioner what factors explain the difference. Those factors may include height and weight of the parents, whether the baby was premature, and genetic background.
  • There are no ideal percentiles. Babies on the 10th percentile are probably just as healthy as those on the 60th

Every time you bring your infant or child for a checkup at 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers, please do not hesitate to ask your care provider about any concerns you have about your children’s growth and development.

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24/7 Pediatric Care Centers are Jacksonville pediatricians, Jacksonville Beach pediatricians, and Fleming Island pediatricians providing care for children from newborn to 18 years. Our 24-hour office also provides services for non-life-threatening illnesses to registered patients 24 hours a day.

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