At each Maternal and Child Health visit your baby/child's growth will be measured. You can record the measurements in your 'My Health, Learning and Development Record' booklet.
Maternal and Child Health nurses use percentile charts from the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control to track your child's growth.
0 to 24 months old
Maternal and Child Health nurses use percentile charts from the World Health Organisation for children between 0 and 24 months of age, which measure:
- boys: weight for age and length
- girls: weight for age and length
- boys and girls head circumference
2 to 18 years
Maternal and Child Health nurses use percentile charts from the Centre for Disease Control for children between 2 and 18 years of age, which measure height, weight and Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is calculated using height and height measurements, then used to compare a child’s weight relative to height with other children of the same age and gender, using BMI percentile charts. The following equation can be used to determine BMI:
BMI = Weight (kg) / height (m) Height (m)
Frequently asked questions
Why do MCH nurses track my baby's growth?
Children's growth is an important marker of their overall health and development. It is important to remember that each child grows and develops at a different pace. Your Maternal and Child Health nurse will use growth charts to see if your child is growing and developing in a healthy way. The most important thing is that your baby is healthy, responsive and happy, not how she/he compares with other babies on a growth chart.
What does "percentile" mean?
Percentiles compare your child with other children of the same age. Higher percentages indicate a larger or taller child. Lower percentages indicate a smaller or shorter child.
For example, if your daughter is on the 75th percentile for weight, she weighs the same or more than 75 per cent of girls her age (and less than 25 per cent).
If your child is in the 50th percentile for length, that means she/he falls right in the middle and is average length for baby children of the same age.
My baby is on the 15th percentile, isn't that small?
A lower percentile rating doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your baby. For example, if both parents are shorter than average, it would be normal for that child to consistently rank in the 15th percentile for height and weight as they grow up.
When should I be concerned?
It is a concern if your child's percentile changes significantly. If your child's growth rate slows down (weight, height, or head size) and falls below two percentile lines, then you should talk to your Maternal and Child Health nurse. Together you can explore the reason for the change in growth. Usually this is discussed by taking into account more than one measurement.
Remember all children have a pattern of growth that is individual for them. Regular weight and length/height measurements over time will show your baby/child's individual growth pattern. What really matters is your child's growth over time and that your child is healthy, responsive and happy.
For information about what you can expect when you see your Maternal and Child Health nurse, see:
Your Maternal and Child Health Service Visits