The long and the short of your baby's growth rate

ARE you concerned your baby is small? Is your toddler the smallest at play group? Do you worry if they are growing normally?

The good news is that generally you shouldn't be alarmed because babies and children grow at different rates.

That said, tracking their progress against a growth chart can be wise because it can alert you to potential development issues.

Growth charts

Growth charts are used by health professionals to track your child's growth and development. They are more commonly and frequently used in the earlier years of your child's life.

You should've received your child's personal health record, aka the little red book, which includes your child's growth chart if they were born within the Queensland public health system.

Growth chart measurements are usually taken during normal development checks, which can be at your GP or the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service's Child Health clinics.

By using a growth chart, health professionals ensure your child is growing in a healthy way by measuring their length, height, weight and head circumference.

Growth charts have lots of lines on them including curved lines that show the range of typical child growth patterns at different ages.

Should you worry?

Have you ever looked at a growth chart and worried that your child isn't close enough to a specific line?

While some children are close to the curve representing the average on the chart, the vast majority sit between two other lines that represent the normal range of growth rates.

Anywhere between these two curves is fine and means your child is within the normal healthy range for their age.

This is why you shouldn't worry about the average for their age, but keep the focus on them growing healthily and happily within the broader range. Another term you may come across is what percentile your baby or toddler is measured at.

For example, if a baby is on the 10th percentile for weight, it means that he weighs less than 90% of other babies of the same age, while a baby on the 85th weight percentile weighs more than 85% of other babies.

It's important you don't worry if your child is too short, too tall, too fat or too skinny due to the percentile ranking. In both examples, the baby is still within the normal healthy range.

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