Is Your Child Growing Normally ? 5 Ways to Measure
Created by Dr Himani Narula Khanna Updated on Jul 25, 2021
As your child leaves preschool and gets ready to face full-on school, there is a complete change in your child’s lifestyle. There is a change in routine and environment. The time spent in the classrooms and playgrounds increases. The child is challenged to adapt to new rules and regulations. There is also a change in what the child wants to eat, what games s/he plays and so much more! The child’s social circle expands and he is introduced to new ways of living through his/her friends. For your child to keep up to all that is happening outside, he has to feel confident inside and that means s/he needs to be comfortable in his/her body, and reach optimum growth in terms of height and weight as per the age. So how do you know if your child is on the right track or lagging behind…
Well… growth assessment requires accurate measurement. You can follow any of the standard growth charts (age and sex appropriate). Each chart has percentile curves representing the cross-sectional distribution of weight in accordance with age, height in accordance with age, head circumference in accordance with age, weight in accordance with height and BMI in accordance with age. Growth charts are separate for boys and girls. Here are 5 measurable ways to monitor growth in this age group…
1. WEIGHT: Weight can be measured in kg or pounds and must be determined using an appropriate digital weight machine or scale. If weight (in accordance with age) is below the 5th percentile, it indicates acute under-nutrition. Weight gain in this age group is usually around 6grams per day.
2. HEIGHT: Stadiometer can be used for proper and accurate measurement of the height of the child. Child should be barefoot while measuring height. If height (in accordance with age) is below the 5th percentile it indicates chronic under-nutrition / stunting. Between 3 years to 6 years, the height gain is approximately 3cm per year. [Explore Healthy Foods & Activities to Help Child Grow Taller]
3. HEAD CIRCUMFERENCE: This is determined using a flexible tape which is run at a path around the front part (supraorbital ridge) to the back part of the head (occipital) via the most prominent lateral prominences. Between 3 to 6 years of age, the head can grow 1cm/year. By 6 years, the adult head size is reached.
4. WEIGHT-HEIGHT: This is a very important parameter. If weight for age is below the 5th percentile and weight for height is also below 5th percentile, it indicates acute under nutrition. In nutritional insufficiency, the weight is the first parameter to decline followed by height.
5. BMI FOR AGE: For years, doctors have used height and weight measurements to assess a child's physical growth. Now they have another tool: Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate how much body fat someone has. Doctors use it to determine how appropriate a child's weight is for a certain height and age.
Keep a close eye on the above 5 measurements – and you will know exactly if your child is on the right track or lagging behind. It is important to monitor your child’s growth patterns for early detection of any growth disorder – and if your child does experience a growth delay, don’t panic! It is possible to help your child to catch up on lost growth.
Please note: Parental height should be considered when diagnosing any growth disorder. Ideally these measurements should be performed on the same equipment every time.
Disclaimer: The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are of Dr. Himani Khanna and intended as an educational aid.
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