# Growth Charts for Toddlers

By Kendra Dahlstrom

Toddler growth charts show health care providers, parents, and educators how children grow and thrive from year to year. Sometimes children experience tremendous growth spurts, while other times numbers climb much slower. This article explains how to make a growth chart for home or school.

With a few simple tools, you can make your own toddler or your student's growth charts. All you need is graph paper, a pen, and a tape measure. You might wonder, "Why do I need a growth chart for my child or student?" First off, once you begin notating and charting height and weight every month or so, you might notice a growth pattern. If a child varies from that pattern for any reason, you'll be the first to know. This is one way in which parents can take an active role in monitoring their children's health. Also, these charts are fun for older children to look at and see how much they grew or how tall they were during any given year.

## Growth Chart Creation

To create toddler growth charts, begin with a single graph paper. Write the twelve months of the year along the bottom of the page. Each month should get one column of squares on the graph. To fit the whole word in such a small space, write the months vertically like the example below.

• J
• A
• N
• U
• A
• R
• Y

Then, use the child's current weight and place that on the left hand side of the graph paper, in the center. Then, for each square, going up, write a half pound more. You should also add weights beneath the current weight just in case you want to add historical data or if the toddler loses weight for any reason. Grab another graph paper to chart height. This graph should look similar, except the left hand side numbers represent inches and half inches.

## Gathering Growth Information

Since doctors keep their own records of toddler growth charts, parents can go to them and ask for a copy for a child's historical information. They should have information on height, weight and head circumference. If you want to get an idea of your child's growth patterns before gathering your own information, chart this information on your graph first. Then, choose a day every other month to weigh your child and measure his or her height. Place a dot on the chart for each month that corresponds to his or her current height and weight. Each month, record the information on the same graph so you can compare information from month to month and see any growth patterns. Since toddlers don't grow quite as quickly as infants you can skip every other month if you'd like. In the classroom, keep these in each child's personal file or portfolio.

## Analyzing Chart Data

Connect the dots and notice the child's specific growth curve. As long as every height and weight measurement falls close to that curve, he or she is progressing nicely. If you notice a significant height or weight growth that is much lower or higher in height or weight for two consecutive months, this might be something to mention to the pediatrician.

Parents or teachers who create their own toddler growth charts aren't overly obsessed with the children. They simply want to take an active role in the children's health. With only a few simple materials and measurements, you can create your own chart unique to your toddler. The children will enjoy being weighed and measured and will have fun watching the lines go up as they grow.