What39s The Deal With Growth Charts

Newborn Tips#1: Don't Hush-A-Bye-Baby
You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.
Newborn Tips#2: Soothe Your Wailing Newborn
When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!

Additional Information:

Babies come in all colors, shapes, and sizes due to lots of factors including genes, level of activity, and even gender. Thus, it can be quite hard for a pediatrician to assess a baby's growth as normal just by looking at him. To truly assess a child's growth and development, pediatricians use growth charts such as the baby height percentile.

What are growth charts? WHO growth charts are tools used by doctors to monitor a child's growth and development over time. These charts are based on research done by the World Health Organization on thousands of children around the world living in optimal environments. The data on their rate of growth for height, weight, and head circumference were gathered over time and set in a graph, showing how babies should grow if they are provided optimal conditions. In using WHO growth charts like the baby height percentile, doctors are able to do two things. One, they are able to compare a child's height, weight, and head circumference to other children who are of the same gender and age. Second, and more importantly, they are able to keep track of a child's rate of growth and see if it follows a regular pattern.

Often, parents focus more on a single point in the chart, particularly where their child is at the moment. In addition, many are of the belief that a higher percentile means a healthier baby. However, when it comes to these types of growth charts, the “score” is not what makes a child healthy and normal. Instead, the score is simply a means of establishing what a child's growth pattern is.

Newborn Tips#3: Help Get Your Baby to Latch
If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.
Newborn Tips#4: Get Prepped
At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.

So, how does that work? When using a baby height percentile, for example, a doctor would need to plot the baby's height as he grows over time. Looking at only one entry in the chart will tell him nothing about the child's health. This is because a baby's height is influenced by several factors, not just what he eats and drinks. A baby whose parents are only 5'2″ cannot be expected to have a 90th percentile on the baby height percentile chart. After all, the chart is based on the average baby height of his peers. Plus, there will be a larger number of babies his age that are taller than him just like there are probably a larger number of adults taller than his parents. Thus, a doctor will not be necessarily concerned if a baby has a low “score” on the baby height percentile, or any growth chart for that matter. What will interest him, instead, is looking at several points in the chart which plot the baby's height throughout several months. These points should, more or less, all be in the same percentile – steady as she or he grows. If a baby was in the 40th percentile throughout January until May then suddenly went down to the 10th percentile in June and went even lower in July, this might be an indication that there is something wrong and the doctor will need to do further evaluation.

Another important interpretation of the results that doctors do is to compare the child's growth measurements against each other. A baby's height and weight should be proportional. A child who scores a 90th percentile in weight and scores a 10th percentile in height probably weighs more than he or she should. In the same way, a child who plots high on the chart for height and low on the chart for weight may weigh less than he should.

When it comes to growth charts like the baby height percentile, parents should always be aware that how their child “scores” is less important than what his growth trend is like. Higher is not always better. And growth trends don't happen overnight.

Newborn Tips#5: Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings
When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they're full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer!
Newborn Tips#6: Help Your Baby Bond with Dad
Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you're needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and "fix" things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what's wrong. Dads need time to do this too - in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.
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