Ever since my children learnt to stand up we have been measuring them against the door frame of our living room, leaving our little marks on our home and watching them grow. Sometimes the measurements would differ greatly, a growth spurt shown in little scour marks against the wall, and other times there would be a sigh of frustration from an eager little soul who wanted to grow bigger as fast as possible.
As the majority of long term readers will know, we’ve been having some building work done recently and that means the end of our little marker, however I’ve taken a photo and a recording of all the heights, ready to remark them on a new chart, different but forever a memory and ingrained in our home once more.
For me this has always been a purely sentimental project, done out of love and a desperate desire to remember those tiny sizes and the way they look up at me – not something that I would have thought to do to monitor their health, but it turns out that measuring height is about more than height, it’s about health too.
Did you know that today (20th September) is Children’s Growth Awareness Day? It’s a day where the International Coalition of Organisations Supporting Endocrine Patients (ICOSEP) want to shine a light on the important of monitoring your child’s growth. Apparently for children, growth is an important indicator for overall health and wellbeing, and it’s more important to monitor that growth that we may have believed beforehand. In the first year of life, your child should grow around 25cm, and then from 1-4 years roughly 10cm every year and after, until puberty, 5cm. I never really thought about it before, but I’ve had very different experiences – Reuben was a very tall child, growing very quickly and always the tallest, until more recently when he seems to have been caught up by a few of his class mates. By contrast, Edith went through a phase of hardly growing at all, and not once did I think to chat it over with her doctor, until we noticed her weight was very low. Fortunately, all of my children have fallen into the “normal” growth patterns of kids – some growth spurts, some slow periods, but overall, they are fit and well. Yet, as a mother of three, I’m surprised that I didn’t have any clue how important to their health an awareness of their height and growth was.
So how do you measure your kids?
Whack em up against the door frame and shove a pen over their head right? Heels back and no tippy toes yeah?
Well there is a little bit more to it than that. More than Height is a website that helps to encourage parents to measure their children, and properly. No tippy toes to cheat the chart!
Firstly, shoes and hair clips/bobbles all need removing. Stand your child up against the wall, arms need to be loose (not folded like Reuben’s usually are nowadays) with shoulders, bottom and heels touching the walls. Head back against the wall and then it’s time to draw that line on the wall with a pen or pencil across the back of your child’s head. Then, make a record using a tape measure – the More Than Height website recommends you repeat the process three times to get the most accurate reading and then plot on your child’s red book. If you don’t have a clue where that is loitering (oh, hi, parent after my own heart!) then record it in your phone or somewhere.
You can find out more information about the importance of checking your child’s height, along with resources to help you keep track on the More Than Height website.
For me, taking the focus away from exclusively weight (though it’s a good one to keep a record of too) is so important as I often feel like that is used as an exclusive indicator to a child’s health and that isn’t the best that we can do. Constant weight monitoring puts too much emphasis on children and their weight, which can lead to some really negative feelings in a society that is already so negative about weight.
So, check that height and know that those sweet memories your making are useful too!