Keeping Track Of Your Child’s Growth And Development

As a mother, you have probably made several trips to the clinic to monitor your child’s growth and development. Once a woman is confirmed to be pregnant, she will be handed a purple booklet (usually purple in colour, in Kenya) where all her baby’s records from birth till age 5 will be written. Inside the book, there is a page with a chart where the growth of the baby is also recorded at every visit to the clinic.

What Is an Infant Growth Chart?

An infant or baby growth chart helps you and your doctor keep track of how your baby is growing/developing. There are different charts for boys and girls, for infants and for older children.

Growth charts record changes in your baby’s length, weight and head circumference. These measurements are marked down on the chart hence you get to see how they are recording different milestones at different times. On the vertical (up-and-down) axis is the measurement; on the horizontal (side-to-side) axis is the baby’s age.

Source: Ministry of Health

How to Understand Percentiles

Some babies tend to have a small body size while others tend to be big. Despite this, it is important for every mother to note that each baby is unique in its own way and they will grow at their own pace. And the important thing is that they are growing as expected for their percentile. Therefore, the growth charts help you track this by showing normal growth curves (i.e. always increasing). You can plot your baby’s growth to see if it follows a similar pattern to the average baby on that percentile.

How Will My Baby Be Measured?

Once your baby is born, he or she will be weighed and measured at birth. After that, repeating the measurements once a month by visiting the clinic is usually enough to track of how they are growing. And if their weight does not remain constant, i.e. it keeps changing from time to time; it should not be a cause of alarm since they are still growing.

Babies under 2 years old are usually weighed on a special infant scale (newborns will lie down on the scale). It is usually more accurate to weigh babies with no clothes on until they are 12 months. After they turn 2, they can be measured standing up in light clothes. You baby’s head circumference will be measured using a tape measure.

If your child was born prematurely, their age needs to be corrected on the chart until they turn 2 years old.

When Should I Be Worried?

If a child is not reaching the developmental milestones fast enough, it often leaves the parents worried. However, while it’s important to measure a child’s growth to see if they are healthy and developing properly, it’s not the only way to tell if they’re healthy.

All babies lose some weight in the week after birth. Most babies also double their birth weight by 4 months and triple it by 13 months (for boys) or 15 months (for girls).

There is unlikely to be anything wrong if your baby:

  • has at least 5 very wet nappies each day
  • does well-sized, soft poos
  • has good skin colour and muscle tone
  • is meeting other developmental milestones

If your child’s percentile changes significantly – for example, if they drop by 2 percentile lines – then it is important to talk to your paediatrician or nutritionist. 

Remember; don’t compare your child’s growth to that of other kids. The important thing is that they continue growing following the same percentile.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and not substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: pregnancybirthbaby, babycenter, thebump, huggies

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