All newborn babies will now have their weight and height plotted on new charts based on how a breastfed baby should be growing.
Previous growth charts were based on the average size of a bottlefed baby.
The new charts are part of a push by the Dept of Health to encourage more mums to breastfeed their babies for longer.
Research suggests that breastfed babies tend to gain weight at a healthier pace and are less likely to become obese in later life.
It is hoped that the new charts will reasssure mums that breastfed babies are not falling behind in their growth rates.
Instead, they are intended to help parents and healthcare staff such as midwives, health visitors and GPs spot whether babies are at early risk of obesity and take appropriate action.
The new charts include a section specifically for pre-term babies. They also avoid reference to babies between birth and two weeks old. As babies can lose and gain weight at different rates during the first fortnight, it is now recommended that they are not measured during this period.
Also included in the new charts, is a BMI conversion chart so you can accurately work out whether your child is in the healthy zone. It means that taller or more petite babies can be easily assessed without being categorised as under- or over-weight based simply on age and weight.
Professor Terence Stephenson, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says, ‘The new charts have given us the opportunity to give growth charts a complete facelift and for the first time, position breastfeeding as ‘the norm’.’
The Dept of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, with some breastfeeding continuing to the age of 12 months.
Along with the new charts, extra cash is going to local healthcare providers to promote breastfeeding and a National Breastfeeding Helpline has been set up: 0300 100 0212.