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Understand your Child’s Growth

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 10-01-2007

Toddler-hood is an important phase in the development of your baby. It is at this time that most children will perfect their walking and start speaking and responding in an interactive manner. It is also a time when the rapid rate of growth they have been experiencing so far will gradually decrease.

Your toddler’s growth has two aspects to it—physical and mental. Physical growth refers to the increase in height and weight and other physical attributes of your toddler. Mental growth refers to the increase in your toddler’s mental development including the capacity to think, imagine, analyze, judge wrong and right etc.

You can understand your toddler’s growth with the help of ‘growth charts.’ Pediatricians often use growth charts to monitor your toddlers’ growth. The growth chart represents a plotting of your toddler’s height and weight against the age to form a growth curve. Your pediatrician would be able to give you proper instructions on how to plot and read your toddler’s growth chart to find out if your child is growing normally or not.  Depending on how much data you like to record, and some dads love to record it all, you can download charts from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/nhanes/growthcharts/charts.htm.

However, most parents can just ask to see the growth chart at your regular appointments with your pediatrician.  Make sure to ask where your baby is versus other babies on three key statistics: weight, height, and head size.  Ask your doctor if any of these numbers appear low for the baby’s age.

It is important to note that toddlers aged between six and eighteen months can have widely fluctuating growth curves because the rate of growth is higher in this period.  So the doctor will especially be looking for changes in the percentile ratings to see if the relative size of your baby is stable.   Note that later, growth curves for older toddlers are normally more stable because they tend to grow more slowly.