The first year as a parent can be a bit overwhelming, with frequent scheduled visits to the pediatrician.
After each visit, parents are given a chart showing their baby’s growth curve, but sometimes this information can be confusing.
Making sense of the numbers
Standardized growth charts have been around for about 40 years and were originally designed to help doctors monitor a baby’s growth and help spot any issues early on.
The charts take into account average measurements for a large sampling of children from all over the world and they differ based on age, gender, as well as whether a baby was born full-term or premature.
According to Eva Love, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, there is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ numbers. She said what matters most is consistency.
“I like the numbers that show me your kid is on this part, on a curve, and staying on that curve with no rapid increases or decreases and so there’s no absolute number; I think it’s the number that’s right for that child,” said Dr. Love.
Dr. Love said parents also need to be careful not to compare their child’s numbers to the numbers of other children, as every baby’s growth curve is different and unique.
Predictions for the future
For parents who are trying to gauge just how big their child will be when they grow up, Dr. Love said the growth charts can offer a glimpse into what might be in store for them.
“Monitoring that growth of that child can tell you where they’re generally going to fall over the course of their life,” said Dr. Love. “So if a child comes out and is in the 90th percentile; you actually want that child to stay in the 90th percentile and not precipitously drop to another percentile.”
For parents who are looking to get an idea of how tall their child might grow to be as an adult, Dr. Love said that there is a formula known as the mid-parental height predictor that can give parents a ballpark figure of where their child may end up.