Growth monitoring is the regular measurement of your child’s size to monitor his growth. Registered dietician and head of Discovery Vitality’s nutrition strategy Candice Smith explains why this should be done at every doctor’s appointment.
Your baby grows bigger and develops new capabilities every day, which is why growth monitoring is important. Simply put, this is when your healthcare provider monitors his growth and development at each clinic or doctor’s visit to ensure that your baby is healthy and that everything is on track.
Why is growth monitoring so important?
When your healthcare provider completes a growth monitoring assessment, your child’s growth is plotted on the Road to Health Card. This aims to detect any illnesses or problems early, so they can be treated. In addition, healthcare providers will assess your baby to see that his visual and hearing abilities, and motor skills are developing normally.
How does it work?
Weight is an important parameter for growth, and weighing a baby or child is a routine part of care. Your baby’s weight is plotted on the Road to Health Card along the appropriate age interval to form a growth curve.
By looking at your baby’s growth curve and weight for his age, your doctor will be able to see if the growth is within the normal range, or if there is any risk of over- or under-nutrition.
A baby with a low weight for his age needs to be assessed for malnutrition or any illnesses that may be slowing his growth. Similarly, children who fall above the normal limits may be at risk of over-nutrition and obesity.
Weight for age is not the only important parameter. Weight for height is equally as important in screening for stunting. In the earlier stages of life, length is used rather than height. A similar healthy range exists for weight for age, and the measurement is also plotted in the card.
All children develop at a unique pace, but there are milestones to look out for. The absence of certain milestones or a delay in acquiring new skills may be a sign of an underlying problem or a medical illness.
Normal development of vision is comprised of the following milestones:
- 14 weeks: Your baby will follow close objects with his or her eyes
- 6 months: Tour baby recognises familiar faces
- 9 months: Your baby’s eyes focus on further objects, and his eyes move together
- 18 months: Your baby looks at small things and pictures
- 3 years: Your child can see shapes clearly at 6 metres
- 5-6 years: Vision is normal.
Hearing and communication
- 14 weeks: Your baby will respond to sound by blinking, ceasing sucking at the breast or bottle to listen, or turning towards the sound
- 6 months: Your baby looks for the source of sound
- 9 months: Your baby turns when called
- 18 months: Your baby can point to three simple objects, knows at least three words other than names and understands simple commands
- 3 years: Your child speaks in simple three word sentences
- 5-6 years: Your child speaks in full sentences
- 14 weeks: Your baby will lift his or her head when held against his caregiver’s shoulder
- 6 months: Your baby can hold a toy in each hand
- 9 months: Your baby sits and plays without support
- 18 months: Your baby walks well, and uses his fingers to feed himself
- 3 years: Your child runs and climbs.
- 5-6 years: Your child can hop on one foot
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.