Children come in all shapes and sizes, and all babies grow at their own pace. At your pediatric visits, the healthcare provider will plot your child’s growth on a baby growth chart to make sure she’s on track. The chart might look daunting, but your doctor can help you understand this useful tool and what the results mean for your little one. To make it easier, we’ll show you how to read the baby growth chart and interpret the results.
What Are Baby Growth Charts?
Baby growth charts are important tools healthcare providers use to check your little one’s overall health. The charts are used to assess how your baby is growing compared with other children of the same age and gender and to see how your child is developing over time.
Different charts are used for boys and girls, and different charts are also used for babies younger than 24 months and for those 2 years and older.
It’s helpful to know that these charts offer pieces of information that your doctor can assess in the context of other developmental milestones, the size of the people in your family, and other factors. You can find and download the charts below.
Baby Length (Height)
In general, during the first six months, a baby grows about one inch per month. Between six months and one year, that growth slows down a bit to about a 1/2 inch per month.
The average length of a baby boy at six months is approximately 26 1/2 inches (67.6 cm) and a baby girl is about 25 3/4 inches (65.7 cm). At one year, boys are around 29 3/4 inches (75.7 cm) and girls average 29 inches (74 cm).
This chart shows the average length or height of healthy, full-term babies from one month to one year.
Factors that affect your baby’s height
A number of factors are at play in determining your baby’s final height as an adult, including:
As you might guess, heredity has a lot to do with how tall your baby will be, accounting for about 80 percent of your baby’s height. If you and your mate are tall, chances are you’ve got a kid who’ll one day need extra-long pants too.
The average American man is 5.5 inches taller than the average American woman, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Exposure to Smoke
Smoking cigarettes during any trimester of pregnancy has been shown to reduce the height of an expecting woman’s baby.
Having not enough to eat or eating very poorly — especially within the first 1,000 days of life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — can make kids deficient in the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow. And that can permanently stunt a child’s growth and decrease adult height.
Most kids don’t get nearly enough exercise — but a child who participates in extremely intense exercise at a young age can have a slowed or changed growth pattern.
A number of very rare conditions can also affect a child’s adult height, including:
Turner syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that results in short height and is usually apparent by about age 5.
Gigantism, a disorder where an excess of growth hormone during childhood causes kids to be larger than other children their age.
Dwarfism, where kids grow to an adult height that’s usually considered under 4 feet, caused by genetic disorders or other medical conditions. The most common type of dwarfism, achondroplasia, accounts for 70 percent of all cases and is detected either in utero or shortly after birth.
Childhood growth hormone deficiency, a disorder where the pituitary gland does not make enough growth hormone, resulting in slow or flat rate of growth. While it’s sometimes noticed at birth, it may not be diagnosed until a child is 2 or 3 years old.
Chronic childhood illnesses like severe arthritis, untreated celiac disease or cancer may slow a child’s growth.
Chronic use of some medications, especially corticosteroids, can impede a child’s growth.