courbe de croissance
The 23 January 2017
By galipon dans

Understanding your child’s growth curve

Not sure what the various growth curves mean in your child’s health record? Would you like to know whether your child’s growth is within the normal range? Not sure how to enter their height and weight on the graphs provided?


Galipon can help by providing you with this little guide to help you understand and interpret your child’s growth curves. You will be able to gauge whether your child’s development is normal, and whether any concerns you may have are justified. Here at Galipon, we always try to put your child’s growth first, just as we do in our adaptable bedrooms that grow with your baby.

Why should you calculate your baby’s height and weight?

As your child develops, three types of data are important for measuring their growth and checking that they are growing normally:

  • Height: best measured with baby lying down. This is the most important factor as weight depends on it, so it’s the measurement you need to look at first and foremost to check that your child’s growth is normal.
  • Weight: this can vary depending on the height of your baby. The more your child grows, the more their body will develop in terms of muscle, bone density etc. In particular, this measurement enables you to assess whether your child is overweight and whether you therefore need to alter their diet. Finally, it will reassure you that your baby is in good health.
  • Head circumference: this enables you to check that your child’s brain is developing as it should.

Each of these types of data is shown on the growth curve.

Between birth and 18 months, your baby will often see the doctor; at 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 4, months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months and 18 months.

How to analyse your baby’s height and weight using the growth curve

How these three measurements (height, weight and head circumference) progress over time are registered on a growth curve in your child’s health record. This means that you can track the curve so you can compare your baby’s growth with the average growth of children at the same age.
Extreme curves:
Five curves are always shown on the graphs:

  • The minimum curve (curve A): 3% of children in France lie below this level.
  • The minimum intermediate curve (curve B): 15% of children in France lie below this level.
  • The average curve (curve C): this represents the average growth of children in France depending on their age. In summary: 50% of children are below average, and 50% above average.
  • The maximum intermediate curve (curve D): 15% of children in France lie above this level.
  • The maximum curve (curve E): 3% of children in France lie above this level.

This means that you can inform your paediatrician if you notice an anomaly, meaning that you are forewarned of any health problems for your child.

Reading a growth curve

As a general rule, a point that lies too far from the average curve in either direction may indicate a growth problem. In other words:

  • A point below the minimum curve may indicate that your child is underweight.
  • A point above the minimum curve may indicate that your child is overweight.

These situations are classed as extreme and harmful to the child’s health in certain cases. When interpreting your child’s growth diagrams, it is important to remember two very important factors.

 Understanding a growth curve

It is vital to bear in mind that babies do not all grow and gain weight at the same pace. Here are a number of other factors that may explain any differences and help you understand them:

  • changes in the growth curve,
  • your child’s state of health,
  • the height of their parents,
  • their diet, etc.

On average, however, babies double their weight from birth to around four months, and triple it by the time they are a year old.

Note: the aim is not to see how your child compares to the average, but to see how their growth progresses. It is important that their growth curve progression is in proportion to the average.

You should spend time analysing your child’s growth curve properly before raising concerns, but always feel free to visit your child’s doctor if there is anything you don’t understand.

 Weight curve and height curve

Don’t be instantly alarmed if a growth problem appears on one of the diagrams.

To analyse a possible growth problem correctly, analysing all the child’s growth diagrams is essential.

We recommend that you pay particular attention to these two curves:

  • The weight-to-height growth curve.
  • The height-to-age growth curve.

The second factor that it is important to consider is your child’s physical appearance. Trust your own judgement; if you don’t feel that your child’s appearance is out of the ordinary, you are probably right.

Here are the articles dealing with the various weight and height curves for your child:

  • Baby growth curve
  • Boys’ growth curve
  • Girls’ growth curve

Signs that may indicate a growth problem

Children who grow ‘normally’ have growth curves that progress roughly in parallel with the average curve.

To clarify, here are three situations that could mean that your child has a growth problem:

  • Your child’s growth curve intersects another extreme curve.
  • The growth curve suddenly changes direction (either up or down).
  • The growth curve stagnates and indicates no increase in either height nor weight. If it continues to move towards an extreme curve, this is cause for concern.

If your child falls into any of these categories, contact their doctor as soon as possible to agree what should be done.

Otherwise, you can be safe in the knowledge that everything is fine! Apply the techniques you have learnt for reading and understanding a growth diagram, and check for yourself. Nobody can understand a child’s needs better than their parents. Trust your own judgement!

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