All mothers watch their children’s development closely. We get worried if they’re too small, or too big, too short or too tall. But, just like adults, babies come in all shapes and sizes. When you take your baby to the pediatrician for her well baby checkups, they will rank your baby’s size. Here’s some idea of how it will work.
When your baby is weighed and measured, the pediatrician will tell you where your baby’s weight and length rank in terms of a “percentile”. This simply tells you how your baby compares to other babies of the same age. For example, if your baby’s weight falls into the 80th percentile, it means she weighs more than 80 percent of babies her age. Some people seem to think ranking in a high percentile is a good thing, because it means the baby is thriving. However, this is not necessarily the case. A baby in the 40th percentile might be thriving, but just destined to be a small person. For example, my daughter has consistently ranked in about the 50th percentile, and she is very healthy, and has plenty of meat on her bones. My husband and I are not very large people, and it seems that she has simply inherited our body size.
Your baby’s length will be ranked in exactly the same way, and can give you an idea of whether your baby will be tall, medium or average in height. If both you and your husband are short, don’t expect a baby to rank in the 90th percentile in height, though it can happen.
One thing you do need to look for is a major difference between the height and weight percentiles. They should be pretty close. If your baby is in the 40th percentile in height, and 90th in weight, you might be feeding her a bit too much. On the other hand, a baby in the 90th percentile in height that ranks in the 30th percentile in weight is probably a bit on the thin side. Your doctor will advise you if your child’s diet needs attention.
The most important thing you can do to monitor your child’s development is to attend those well baby visits with your pediatrician. Your doctor will be monitoring your baby’s progress, and in the event that any area needs attention, he will be able to alert you to the issues. This first year of development is critical, and it is good to keep tabs on the progress.