safe motherhood


Understanding centile charts

A centile chart helps you compare your baby's growth to an average. It can also be reassuring because it helps you measure long-term weight gain.

The centile, or 'percentile', line on a chart shows the percentage of babies whose weight falls beneath that line. For example, a typical chart would show that at birth 98% of babies weigh less than 4.5 kilos, but only 2% weigh less than 2.5k.

The 50th centile is the line that falls in the middle of the chart, showing the average for the particular population being measured. The line is drawn so that out of any randomly selected group of 100 babies, 50 will weigh or measure more, and 50 will weigh or measure less. Centile charts are useful because they can track the overall growth of a baby and help reassure parents about variations in weight gain.

Faith felt that birth charts helped reassure her about her baby Tony: "Everyone used to look at me as if I was feeding him too much, letting him become fat. It was actually quite reassuring to see that if you started off with his birth weight, he was exactly where he was supposed to be on the charts."

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