One of the aspects of development on most parents’ minds is growth. Is my baby growing at the correct rate? Is she too fat? Is she too small
The best way to keep track is to monitor your child’s growth, using your child’s health record book. Probably at one of your first visits to an early childhood health centre, you’ll have your baby weighed and measured. But what do those charts mean?
Perecentile charts are used to monitor growth. Three measurements are taken ie. weight, length and head circumference. Percentile charts are divided into age groups of newborn to three years and two years to 18 years. Within each percentile chart are three significant parameters ie. the 10 percentile and the 90 percentile.
This means that there is likely to be ten percent of the general population of children of this age below the 10 percentile or above the 90 percentile. The significance of monitoring growth on percentiles needs to be taken into consideration with the hereditary factors such as the parents weight, height and head size.
The important factor is that a child maintains a steady growth pattern and not which percentile they are on as this will be influenced by hereditary factors.
As a general guide the healthy full term newborn baby weighs 2.6 to 4 kgs, length is between 48 to 55cms, and the head circumference is 33 to 37cms. During the first few days it is normal for most babies to lose up to 10% of their birth weight and will regain that weight in 7 to 10 days.
The First Six Months
The greatest growth period is in the first six months during which time baby will have doubled their birth weight and grown in length by around 15 cms. Their head circumference will have increased significantly to allow for the rapid growth of the brain. It could be expected that the head circumference in the first six months will grow as much as 7 to 8 cms.
At 12 Months
By twelve months they will have tripled their weight, and grown in length by around 25 cm. Their head circumference will have increased by 10 cms.
One To Three Years
After one year the overall growth rates slow down. By three years they will have gained about 11 kgs since birth, and grown in length since birth by 45 cms, with their head circumference growing by about 13 cms.
Three Years To Adolescence And Maturity
Throughout their childhood children will have spurts of growth and periods of slow growth until they gain their adult proportions and size. Generally speaking girls will mature through adolescence and gain their adult size earlier than boys. This is usually for girls by about 15 or 16 years of age and for boys as late as 18 yrs.
Regular monitoring of your childs growth is important especially in the early years. Should your child not be growing as expected, consult a health professional.