Doctors and nurses use "growth charts" to follow the physical growth of infants, children and adolescents. Parents can do the same thing with their own children, keeping the following information in mind:
Growth charts are a set of patterns (percentiles) that have been determined by measuring the heights and weights of large numbers of children at different ages. A specific pattern (percentile) represents the height and weight for a certain percentage of children. For example, if you locate the 50th percentile curve for height, you can find the value of that curve at any age. For every 100 children at a particular age, approximately half (50 children) will be taller and half (the remaining 50 children) will be shorter than this 50th percentile value.
Growth charts provide valuable information. First, the height and weight measurements of a child on any day can be compared with national patterns (percentiles). More important, the overall pattern of one child's growth over time can be compared with the growth patterns of children in general. In most cases, the measurements for an individual child reflect family patterns. For example, parents who are shorter than average tend to have children who are shorter than average. Occasionally, however, these comparisons can point out possible nutritional or medical problems.
Your child's doctor may become concerned if your child changes percentiles over several visits. For example, the doctor will take note if your child gains too much weight for his height, or if your child does not gain weight at a rate expected by the percentile curves.
Always discuss any concerns you have about your child's growth with your child's health care provider.
Girls, Birth to 36 months