Growth charts for breastfed babies

Growth charts are used to compare the growth of your child compared to thousands of other children of the same age and gender to track their growth OVER TIME. If you took 100 babies and lined them up by weight, where would your baby fall in line? If they fall in the 36th percentile, for example, they weigh more than 36 babies but less than 64 babies. The goal isn’t for every baby to be in a top percentile, like a grade. The goal is for baby to stay around their percentile while they grow over time.

Growth patterns differ between breastfed and formula-fed babies and there are different growth charts to track growth depending on how baby is being fed. Beginning around 3 months of age weight gain is generally lower for breastfed babies than for that of formula-fed babies. For the first 3 months of age, the WHO growth charts show a somewhat faster rate of weight gain than the CDC charts. After about 3 months of age, WHO growth charts show a slower rate of growth than the CDC growth charts. Because formula-fed infants tend to gain weight more rapidly after age 3 months, they may be more likely to cross upward in percentiles on the WHO growth charts. In general, we like to see a baby staying on their growth curve.

Growth charts are not intended to be used as a sole diagnostic instrument. Instead, growth charts are tools that contribute to forming an overall clinical impression for the baby being measured. This does help guide us to determine if feeding is in general going well and if adjustments need made. If your baby is losing percentiles or significantly dropping off their curve, and your goal is breastfeeding, a good pediatrician won’t just tell you to supplement. They’ll also refer you to a lactation consultant to help figure out why. Is it a supply issue, a feeding issue or both?!