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Infant Growth Chart Guidelines

Learn how to interpret infant growth chart guidelines from pediatrician Dyan Hes, M.D. in this Howcast video about newborn and baby development.


Parents are always fixated on growth curves. Parents are often texting their grandparents while I'm talking to tell them what the baby's percentiles are. The baby's 90th percentile for height and 80th percentile for weight and 70th percentile for head circumference. But what does all that mean?

People often think that a big baby is a great, healthy baby and a small baby is a scrawny, skinny baby, and it's not healthy, and that is not true by any means. We want to make sure that the baby is growing along his or her growth curve. So you want to make sure that the baby is consistently on or around the percentiles.

So if you're baby was born at the 5th percentile for weight, I want to make sure that when your baby comes back the next visit, they're around the 5th percentile for weight the next time. I won't be upset if the baby went up or the baby went down a little bit, but I want the baby to keep on growing.

We cannot predict the adult height and weight from the baby's birth weights. Babies grow all at different rates and at different times. The most important thing is that your baby is thriving. We need to know that the head is growing and following the head circumference curve. We want to make sure that the baby's height is consistent and that the baby's weight is consistent.

The CDC has printed out curves that doctor's use to plot the child until 2 years of age. After 2 years of age, they go onto a new curve for children between the ages of 2 and 18 years. Your child will have a growth curve plotted at every visit throughout their medical visits until age 18. You can also talk with your doctor about BMI, body mass index, which is plotted when the child is school age, after age 2, to see how your child is growing and is the right weight for the child's height.

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