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Frequently Asked Questions

I didn’t breastfeed, or I stopped early – are these charts still right for my baby?

The charts show how healthy babies grow. Babies grow most naturally when fed on breast milk and this chart helps you check that your baby is still growing in the same healthy pattern.

My baby was born prematurely. Is this taken into account?

If your baby was born 4-8 weeks early, weight and head circumference will be plotted on the preterm section of the charts, until they are 2 weeks past their due date. After this, weight and other measurements will be plotted on the main chart using an arrow, with the tail at your baby’s actual age and the head at their ‘corrected’ age, allowing for the number of weeks your baby was born early. For babies who are born more than 8 weeks early, there is a special chart that automatically allows for prematurity which will be used until they are two years old.

How do I know my baby’s weight is OK in the first 2 weeks?

Your baby’s weight at about 2 weeks of age should be compared with their birth weight. If your baby loses more than a tenth of their birth weight, or takes more than 3 weeks to get back to their birth weight, your midwife or health visitor will check how your baby is feeding, make suggestions that may help, and may recommend a check-up by your GP or refer you to a breast feeding specialist. Your midwife or health visitor will then weigh them again to follow their progress.

My child was ill and lost some weight, what should I do?

Children often lose some weight when they are not well. Once your child recovers from the illness, their weight should go back to the centile it was on before the illness within 2–3 weeks.

My baby’s weight was on one centile, but now it's nearly down to the next line – is this normal?

It is normal for your child’s weight centile drop by up to one centile space (the distance between two centile lines) between measurements, but it is less common for a child’s weight to cross two spaces; if this happens your health visitor or doctor may want to measure their length, ask about their eating and possibly do some investigations.

My baby's head size has risen to the top of the centile chart – should I be worried?

British children have relatively large heads compared to the WHO standard, particularly after the age of 6 months. It's fairly common for the head centile to be at the very top of the chart or even above it. This should only cause concern if the head centile goes on rising after the first few weeks, or if there are other concerning signs or symptoms.

Why are there only two kinds of chart - 'boys' and 'girls'?

Although some children may identify as a sex which is not the same as the sex they were identified at birth, their growth will still in most cases follow the chart ('boys' or 'girls') which most closely represents their sex assigned at birth. If your child is under the care of a specialist in growth, gender, or hormones, they will be able to advise you on which chart to use.