Child Growth Percentiles at Every Age

· April 12, 2018
What are child growth percentiles? These growth charts show the average length and weight of babies by age group.

It’s important for parents to be aware of child growth percentiles for each age group.

From the start of pregnancy and throughout childhood, healthcare professionals use standard growth tables in order to monitor children’s height and weight against global averages, and ensure they’re growing properly.

The importance of child growth percentiles

Child growth percentiles are measurement tables that indicate the average weight and length or height for a fetus or a baby, according to their age.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has established standard child growth percentiles in order to show how children should grow and develop. 

Of course, babies who live in a healthy environment and get a balanced diet are much more likely to meet height and weight targets for their age group.

But why are child growth percentiles so important? In fact, doctors begin using them even before a baby has been born.

The reason for this is that growth percentile tables allow healthcare professionals to determine whether a child’s growth and development is within the normal range.

These standard parameters also allow doctors to determine gestational age and monitor the development of the fetus in the womb.

Child growth percentiles allow medical staff to detect potential problems.

Rapid weight gain or loss can be a sign of illness. If a child suddenly stops growing, this too can be a cause for concern.

Something that parents should keep in mind is that small variations within the range of the growth chart aren’t usually anything to be worried about.

If your baby’s child growth percentile changes rapidly, however, it is important to find out why.

What are the child growth percentiles for each age range?

Gestational age

During pregnancy, one of the most relevant pieces of information that doctors monitor is the length and weight percentile of the fetus.

Of course, in this case it isn’t possible to weigh the baby directly. However, there are measurements that can be used instead, such as biparietal diameter (BPD) and abdominal circumference.

In general, when a baby is at full term, that is, at week 38 of pregnancy, they should measure between 18 and 21 inches (45.5 and 53.5 cm). The ideal weight range is between 5 lb 8 oz and 8 lb 13 oz (2.5 and 4 kg).

Aspects such as the duration of pregnancy and the mother’s health and diet are key to a baby’s development.

In this sense, mothers who smoke, consume harmful substances or don’t consume enough calories are exposed to additional risks.

These can affect the growth of the fetus.

“Child growth percentiles allow medical staff to detect potential problems”

Child growth percentiles during childhood

Medical specialists will let parents know whether their children are within the normal child growth percentiles.

However, as a general guide, values between 3 and 97 are usually considered normal.

According to these parameters, a child who is seriously overweight or very tall for their age will be in the 97th percentile or higher.

Meanwhile, a child who is very underweight will be in the 3rd percentile or lower.

Ideally, as well as being within the normal range, babies’ growth should be continuous and stable.

A child who is in the 50th percentile is completely average. But is there an easier way to understand what a percentile is?

If your baby is in the 80th percentile for length, this means that, if there are 100 babies, your child will be taller than 79 of them. They will be shorter than the 20 infants in the higher percentiles.

When is a baby’s child growth percentile a cause for concern?

It’s important for parents to know that small variations are generally nothing to be worried about.

Even though the child growth percentiles are established global standards, parents must remember that every child is different.

Factors such as the parents’ height, environment and diet can influence children’s growth.

Rapid fluctuations in weight from one checkup to another can set off alarm bells.

If these changes aren’t reversed, your doctor will probably recommend a series of examinations to find out what is affecting the child’s growth.

Another aspect that healthcare professionals look out for is a sudden change or slowdown in your child’s growth rate.

In this case, again, it will be necessary to find out what is limiting their development.

Parents should be familiar with the concept of child growth percentiles.

This knowledge will help moms and dads to be more engaged with their child’s health, and to keep an eye out for changes that could point to potential developmental problems.