Consistent growth in height and weight are two of several factors a doctor uses to assess your child's nutrition, health and development. By tracking your toddler's growth on a standard growth chart, his pediatrician can identify problems early and look for potential causes. You can create a simpler toddler growth chart at home as a keepsake.
Create a Toddler Growth Chart
Ask your pediatrician for a copy of your child's growth chart or create one to put in your child's baby book.
Download and print the simplified, toddler growth chart to record your toddler's height (length up to age two years) in inches and weight in pounds. The pre-drawn curves on the simpler charts represent the average rate of growth in height and weight for 50% of children ages 12-36 months in six month intervals.
How to Use the Charts
- Select, download and print the chart for a boy or girl.
- Weigh (in pounds) and measure (in inches) your toddler and write down the numbers. Conversely, you can use measurements from your child's pediatrician.
- Find your toddler's age in months on the horizontal line at the bottom of the chart.
- Go up vertically in a straight line from his age and find his height measurement on the vertical line on the left.
- Mark a dot in the box where his height measurement intersects with his age.
- For his weight follow the same steps but use the vertical axis on the right of the chart to find and chart his weight for his age.
- As your child grows you can connect the dots to draw growth curves.
- Compare your toddler's growth curve to the average height and weight curves that are pre-drawn on the chart.
Standard Growth Charts
Growth charts track the rate (velocity) of growth of a child from birth to age 20. Both the (WHO) and the (CDC) standard growth charts are used in the United States.
The CDC currently recommends the use of the CDC and the (WHO) standard charts as follows:
- Use WHO charts for ages less than two years. These charts are derived from breast-fed, well-nourished, children from all over the globe. WHO does not provide charts for ages 5-19.
- Use CDC charts for ages two to nineteen years. These charts are derived from bottle-fed children of middle-class white women in the U. S. during 1963-1993 under various conditions.
A toddler will therefore be tracked on the WHO charts up to age two and switched to the CDC charts around age three.
There is a set of charts for girls and a set for boys because boys grow at a different rate than girls.
The percentile curves represent the normal variation in rate of growth of many children. Your pediatrician uses these curves to:
- See how your child grows in relationship to many other children
- Keep track of your child's rate and consistency of growth over time
Interpretation of Toddler's Growth Chart
Keep the following in mind when you're interpreting your toddler's growth patterns:
- A normal, healthy child's growth pattern can vary from month to month but will tend to follow a particular percentile curve.
- A child can be healthy yet vary at a doctor's visit from his usual growth curve for any of his measurements.
- As long as a child does not vary wildly from his usual curve or continue to fall way off his curve there is little cause for concern.
- Your child's pediatrician will look at your toddler's overall growth pattern and other health factors to assess his progress and decide if an evaluation or intervention is needed.
- If your toddler falls outside the upper (95th/98th), or lower limits (5th/2nd) of the percentile curves or falls way off his usual curve, your pediatrician will look at potential problems. These include failure to thrive because of your toddler's diet, or delays in his development.
Your Toddler's Growth in Perspective
Growth charts are a single tool used to assess your child's health and development. Rather than worry about a single measurement that doesn't follow her usual pattern, you and your pediatrician should discuss how this relates to the overall health of your toddler. In addition be alert for any nutritional difficulties or developmental delays and bring to her doctor's attention.