Infants grow quickly, gaining weight and height faster than at many other stages of their life. Monitoring this growth is an important way to make sure your baby is healthy and on track with her physical development. Improper growth could indicate a health problem that needs to be addressed. Pediatricians use height and weight trackers at each well-baby check-up as a way to keep an eye on your infant's growth.
Height and weight trackers are divided into percentiles. This allows you to see where your child falls in relation to other babies her age. Most charts track from the fifth to the ninety-fifth percentile. If your baby is in the tenth percentile, for example, 90 percent of babies her age are larger, while 10 percent are smaller. Some pediatricians use charts that go from the third to the ninety-seventh percentile, which are useful for babies who suffer from failure to thrive or other growth-restricting health conditions.
Methods of Recording
Height and weight trackers are often done on paper, but some doctors record them electronically as well. First, he will check your child's weight on an infant scale, then measure her with a tape measure. Each number is charted on a growth chart scale, which tells your baby's pediatrician what percentile his current growth falls into. Typically, age in months runs along the bottom of the chart and height or weight runs up the side. When a doctor follows the line from your baby's age to her height or weight, he can see where she is in relation to other infants on the growth curve. This percentile allows your infant's doctor to watch for an unexplained drop in growth or larger than average gains, either of which could indicate a health problem.
Age and Gender
Your infant's growth is charted and compared to other babies of the same age and gender. There are separate charts for boys versus girls since their growth differs in terms of speed and pattern. Babies from birth to 36 months are tracked in terms of height for age and weight for age, but after age 2 or 3, a pediatrician charts body mass index in addition to height for age and weight for age, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When There's a Problem
Babies grow at different rates, so refrain from comparing your little one to other babies. There is a curve that encompasses normal growth among infants, so your baby may naturally fall on the lower end of the spectrum, while your best friend's baby might always be on the other end. However, sometimes growth patterns can indicate a problem. Slow growth could be due to digestive issues, malabsorption disorders, cystic fibrosis or food intolerances. Gaining weight too fast might be due to calorie overload, which can lead to overweight and obesity later in life.