Falling down that growth chart!
I have to say that I hate that stupid growth chart that all children have to be placed on and follow. I was haunted by them with NOM. What with her reflux and being breastfed, her weight gains were all over the place and I was adamant that I was not going to get neurotic about them again with L.
As a first time mum, I felt awful that NOM didn’t follow that magic line of hers on the growth chart in her little red book (Child Health Record). I religiously got her weighed every 2 weeks and it was a constant worry as being exclusively breastfed meant I didn’t actually know how much she was taking in – just that she fed little and often. NOM liked putting weight on in little bursts but I always remember when she was 2 months old and she had put only 2oz on in over 2 weeks – I was crushed, feeling like I was failing because she wasn’t putting on the weight that the growth chart expected her to be!
The health visitors were happy that she wasn’t losing weight but still expected me to get her weighed regularly to make sure she didn’t drop any more. This was my life until finally, when she started weaning she began to gain weight but it was a constant worry all the time. No one explained to me that the growth chart was based on formula fed babies who put on weight more rapidly than those who are breastfed.
I was therefore determined this time that I was going to give weighing L regularly a miss this time and focus on his development (which we had no concerns about). We didn’t want all that stress again and wanted to enjoy L as I do felt that NOM’s reflux and weight worries clouded some of the enjoyment of a having a newborn. If I felt there was a reason to get him weighed then I would – a mummy knows best!
He was putting on weight really well at his compulsory check ups so I didn’t feel the need to get him weighed but my curiosity got the best of me last week and I decided to take him to our local sure start centre for their baby weigh in session. Before I had even got him on the scales, I had the lady running the play area commenting how ‘dainty’ he was. Thanks for that – he’s perfectly happy though yes?
Then came the scales. I must admit that I expected him to be around 14lb (according to that magic line of his that he was originally following). Once weighed, the health visitor came over and told me he’s 12lb 14oz and has now dropped to the 2nd percentile! mmmmm… he was floating between the 9th and 25th in his first 2 months of life and now he’s dropped which she said needs to be monitored and that I am to bring him back to be weighed in 2 weeks. She asked no questions about how he was feeding, whether he was breast fed – just that he wasn’t following that magic growth chart line! I HATE THAT LINE!!!!!!!! ARGH!
I just nodded and said ok as I know that L is fine. He feeds well, he’s alert, he’s reaching his milestones – he’s my gorgeous baby boy!!!!!! There’s no need to bring him back. I think when I’m breastfeeding, my babies just put on weight in small bursts but I can guarantee that he will pile it on when we start weaning him in a month – just like his sister. Why these professionals don’t look at the whole child I don’t know. They place so much emphasis on weight gain – why? If a child is happy, reaching milestones, is alert and interacts with people then surely they are developing fine – they just put on weight slower than others. Someone has to be in those lower percentiles and for my children that’s the norm.
I just hope that those first time mums out there aren’t being haunted by those percentile lines on their babies growth chart! Every child is different. Every child is unique so why expect them to develop and gain weight in the same way as other children? I think they are useful as a guide to make sure problems with growth aren’t missed, but please do look at the whole child rather than just that line!
And look at my baby boy – he’s growing just fine!