It’s normal for parents to be worried about their child’s growth. There are charts you can use to monitor the growth of infants, children and adolescents. However, you should keep a critical eye when analysing the results. The following article may help you learn more.
Factors that influence children’s height and weight
Every child is unique and develops at their own rate. Certain factors can influence a child’s growth, such as:
- Energy expenditure
The age of the child also influences the speed of growth. Infants grow very quickly. In preschool and elementary school, children grow relatively gradually. Finally, during the teenage growth spurt, boys and girls grow taller rapidly.
A child who eats little is likely to experience slower growth. On the other hand, a child who eats too much and isn’t active enough will gain weight. If a child who eats well has stunted growth, there may be an underlying health problem. This is when you should consult a health professional.
Also, children can often lose weight as a result of a mild infection, such as gastroenteritis. Usually this weight loss is only temporary, and when normal eating resumes, the child will make up for the loss.
What do the percentiles mean?
In growth charts, percentiles are used to qualify the child’s height and weight. If a child is at the 25th percentile for weight, it means that out of a group of 100 children of the same age, 75 children will be heavier than them. It should be understood, however, that the percentiles are only one indicator. There will always be children at the top and bottom of the chart and that doesn’t mean that your child is unhealthy. Rather, you should follow your child’s growth; if they are stable in their percentile, then things are probably going well. Paediatricians watch how the child grows, not by how much!
Example of an average weight/height chart from birth to 18 years old
This table contains the height and weight values for the 50th percentile, from birth to adulthood.
How often should you check your children's weight and height?
Your child’s weight and height should be checked frequently during the first 2 years of life. These check-ups are usually done as follows:
- In the first 2 weeks of life
- Aux mois 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18 et 24;
- Then every year
When should you seek medical advice?
If you’re worried or notice a problem with your child’s growth, you can always consult a health professional.
Also, as mentioned earlier, the fact that your child is in the upper end of the percentiles should not necessarily be cause for worry.
On the other hand, if a child who is at one extremity changes drastically, this may be a good reason to see a health professional. For example, you need not worry about a child who is currently in the 50th percentile, but if they were in the 98th percentile at their previous check-up, it may be best to investigate.
Every child is unique and has their own growth profile. Charts and tables are indicators, but they must be interpreted as a whole. If you have any concerns or questions related to your child's growth, consult a healthcare professional.