Is my child growing well?

Children come in different sizes and shapes. Though your child may be taller or shorter, heavier or lighter than other children the same age, changes in height and weight generally follow a regular pattern that is right for your child Children come in different sizes and shapes. Though your child may be taller or shorter, heavier or lighter than other children the same age, changes in height and weight generally follow a regular pattern that is right for your child.

Babies grow at different rates. For example, breastfed babies tend to grow more quickly than non-breastfed babies in the first six months and tend to grow more slowly in the second six months of life. Non-breastfed babies tend to grow faster in the second six months of life.

Why should I keep track of my child’s growth?

The way your child grows says a lot about her health. Growing too fast or too slowly can be a sign of possible problems with health or nutrition.Starting from birth, your child’s weight and length/height should be measured on a regular basis to see how he is growing over time. Babies and toddlers should also have the size of their head measured (head circumference).

Primary teeth give shape to your child’s face, help guide permanent teeth into the right position and are crucial for learning to eat and to speak. It’s important to care for them well. Primary teeth have a thinner outer enamel (a thin, hard, white substance that covers the tooth) than permanent teeth. This puts them at risk for early childhood tooth decay, which can begin even before the first tooth appears. Decay is caused by bacteria and happens more easily if teeth keep coming into contact with sweet liquids—such as formula, milk, juice, and even breast milk (which contains sugar)—and are not cleaned regularly. Early childhood tooth decay can affect your child’s health and cause pain, making it hard for her to sleep, eat or speak. It can also affect her ability to concentrate and learn. Children who develop dental decay at an early age are more likely to suffer from it throughout childhood.

From birth to 12 months
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, clean, damp cloth twice a day.
  • As soon as the first teeth appear, clean them at least once a day (usually at bedtime) with a soft bristle toothbrush designed for babies. Lay your baby on a flat surface or with his head cradled in your lap to brush teeth.
  • Avoid leaving your baby in bed with a bottle.
  • After 6 months:
    • Introduce a sippy cup.
    • Avoid juice. If you do offer it, limit juice to no more than 125 to 175 mL (4 to 6 oz) per day, in a cup rather than a bottle and only as part of a meal or snack.
    • If a bottle is needed at nap time, offer water rather than milk or juice.
    • If you breastfeed before naptime, be sure to clean your child’s teeth before he goes to sleep.
  • Never sweeten a soother.
  • Don’t put a soother or bottle nipple in your own mouth for any reason. Bacteria (including those which cause tooth decay), viruses and yeast infections can be passed between you and your child this way.
From 1 to 2 years
  • Take your child for a first dental visit at 12 months.
  • Brush your child’s teeth daily (using non-fluoridated toothpaste).
  • Check for signs of early childhood tooth decay once a month. Lift your child’s upper lip and look for chalky-white or brown spots on the teeth or along the gum line. If you see any, take your child to a dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist may suggest you start using a small amount (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Switch to a regular cup for all drinks between 12 and 15 months.
  • Limit soother use to nap and bedtime.
From 3 to 4 years old
  • Teach your child “2 for 2,” which means brushing twice a day for 2 minutes each time.
  • Start using fluoride toothpaste, the amount of a green pea, and teach her to spit rather than swallow.  Supervise your child while he/she is brushing teeth.
  • Encourage her to do some brushing with you completing the job, making sure that all tooth surfaces have been cleaned.
  • Be a role model by brushing your teeth at the same time.
  • If your child continues to suck her thumb as permanent teeth begin to appear, talk to your doctor or dentist.
For all ages
  • Wash your hands before and after brushing teeth.
  • Rinse toothbrushes thoroughly after brushing and ensure that each one can dry without touching others.
  • Replace toothbrushes every few months, when the bristles become flattened with use.
  • Between meals, quench a child’s thirst with water. Do not offer candy, dried fruit (including raisins) and sugared drinks or juices.
  • Take your child for regular dental visits (every 6 months, unless otherwise suggested by your dentist).

When your child is getting her teeth, her gums may be swollen and tender.


  • Rub the gums with a clean finger.
  • Offer her something to chew on. A wet facecloth placed in the freezer for 30 minutes can be helpful, or a teething ring made of firm rubber.

Do not:

  • Use gel that can be rubbed on your child’s gums. Your child may swallow it.
  • Give her teething biscuits, which may contain sugar.
  • Ignore a fever. Getting new teeth does not make babies sick or give them a fever. If your baby is younger than 6 months call a doctor. Older children can be treated at home, as long as they get enough liquids and seem well otherwise.
How often should my child be weighed and measured?

Your child should be weighed and measured at all regularly scheduled well-child visits and/or at visits when your child is ill. Typical well-child visits may occur:

  • within one to two weeks of birth
  • at two, four, six, nine, 12, 18 and 24 months
  • once per year for children over two years and for adolescents

How is my child’s growth tracked?

A growth chart is a type of graph used to track your         child’s growth pattern. Each time your child is measured, the new weight and length/height measurements are marked on the growth chart.

The chart helps show if your child is growing in a healthy way. Your child’s growth chart will be kept as part of her health record until she becomes an adult. You can ask to see this growth chart at each visit.

Which growth chart should be used to track my child’s growth?

The WHO Growth Charts for Canada are the best tool for tracking a child’s growth. They should replace other growth charts that have been used for healthy term infants, children and teens. The WHO growth charts are being used to track children’s growth in a number of countries all over the world.


How do I know if my child is growing well?


Many things affect a child’s growth including their eating and physical activity habits, environment and parent’s height. If your child is growing well, his head circumference, weight and length/height will follow (or “track”) along the same growth lines over time.

Remember all children have a pattern of growth that is natural for them. Regular weight and length/height measurements over time will show your child’s special growth pattern.

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