If you have taken your child to the pediatrician recently, you probably are well aware of the growth charts the doctors use to track your child's height. Yes, the doctor might say your child's growth is as expected and above average which is great news. But once the doctor hands you the chart below, you see all the lines and boxes and suddenly things aren't so clear anymore.
If you have ever found these a little daunting, you are not alone! In fact a study in 2009 showed that up to 77% of surveyed parents interpreted incorrectly the charts containing height and weight.
WHY GROWTH CHARTS
Initially growth charts were developed for pediatricians (not parents) with the expectation that the doctor should plot and interpret your child's growth progression during each checkup. These one page growth charts are a great tool and contain a ton valuable of information including weight percentiles and body mass index (BMI) which we will not go into in this post.
With the ease of access in this information age, many parents have taken it upon themselves to decipher this chart. If you are like most parents, you would likely want to know how their children compare to the average height of boys or girls their age.
Growth charts are also great for looking ahead. You might be surprised when you find that a shorter younger sibling is actually in fact on track to become the tallest in the family!
HOW TO PLOT YOUR CHILD'S GROWTH LINE
Plotting your child's growth line is simple. The most effective way is to plot it regularly as the more data you have recorded, the more details you can see. From left to right, find your child's age. Follow the age line up and find their current height on the chart and mark that point. Proceed to connect the dots of all plotted points to see your growth line. If you have recorded the height of your child previously, it can also be helpful to mark it on the chart so you can see their past growth.
ITS NOT A COMPETITION
We have been conditioned in school to think that we need to be in the top percentile to be outstanding. When reading a percentile growth chart, understand that there is no right or wrong result! The most valuable part of using a growth chart for kids is tracking progression. You may notice that with healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep and exercise may move your growth line up towards a higher percentile zone. On the other hand, if you see a trend where your child's growth line is beginning to fall into a lower percentile zone, you may want to consult a pediatrician.
DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE GROWTH CHART
Have fun with the following growth charts! We have made it so that the growth charts can be shared with the kids! After all, they probably want to know how tall they are just as much as you! Talk about it with them and set goals!