Is your doc up to date? Use of old growth charts decrease breastfeeding success

ImageIf you breastfeed your baby, you should NOT use the typical, out of date, growth charts likely used by your doctor.

The growth charts which are likely still use by your doctor (and every online app there is) were based off a small sample group of babies exclusively fed formula, in a high socioeconomic backgrounds, all of who were of European decent. Additionally, growth was measured only every three months giving a poor look at the fast growth that occurs in the first six months of life.

My healthy, active son was exclusively breastfed until nearly eight months. By the WHO charts he is in the 85 percentile for height and weight and his body’s height to length ratio is perfectly average.

Using the formula-baby based charts he is around the 75 percentile for height and the 25 percentile for weight! That is cause for concern for many parents. I am lucky there is better science around that I happen to know about or I might be pressured by my doctor to start Bodhi on formula at 14 months!

These are growth charts completed recently and are the result of a large scale multi-nation study on infant nutrition. They are made to fight both malnutrition and obesity and are for all infants regardless of feeding-type (i.e. breastfed and formula-fed).

The WHO looked at 8500 babies in six countries: Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman and the USA.  All babies had their growth needs met, all were breastfed for one year and none were malnourished. From this they took a highly conservative sub-sample to ensure all babies were competely healthy and growing normally.

The study was undertaken because growth charts, based off of formula-fed infants, were falsely indicating a need to supplement or stop breastfeeding due to imagined malnourishment in exclusively breastfed babies.

“Recent research conducted by WHO shows that the growth pattern of healthy breastfed infants differs significantly from the current international reference. The negative deviations are large enough to lead health workers to make faulty decisions regarding the adequacy of the growth of breastfed infants, and thus to advise mothers to supplement unnecessarily, or even to stop breastfeeding altogether. “

The new growth charts were also created to fight obesity in early childhood by giving a new appropriate BMI for children under 5.

Remember: babies grow in spurts and may be undergoing intensive internal growth and development (for instance, neurological reorganizations) without visible changes on the outside.

Signs of a growth or developmental “spurt” include fussiness, waking easily, sleeping more or less, eating more, frazzled parents from being up at night, etc.

We are going through a growth-spurt right now and I find it so challenging. I am tired and irritable. I should be sleeping right now with my baby instead of blogging that is for sure. But, we all need a bit of time to be ourselves.

If you want to track and compare your baby’s growth accurately, look at the World Health Organization growth charts at


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