Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.1 Health Promotion in Child Care

3.1.2 Routine Health Supervision Routine Health Supervision and Growth Monitoring

The facility should require that each child has routine health supervision by the child’s primary care provider, according to the standards of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (3). For all children, health supervision includes routine screening tests, immunizations, and chronic or acute illness monitoring. For children younger than twenty-four months of age, health supervision includes documentation and plotting of sex-specific charts on child growth standards from the World Health Organization (WHO), available at, and assessing diet and activity. For children twenty-four months of age and older, sex-specific height and weight graphs should be plotted by the primary care provider in addition to body mass index (BMI), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BMI is classified as underweight (BMI less than 5%), healthy weight (BMI 5%-84%), overweight (BMI 85%-94%), and obese (BMI equal to or greater than 95%). Follow-up visits with the child’s primary care provider that include a full assessment and laboratory evaluations should be scheduled for children with weight for length greater than 95% and BMI greater than 85% (5).

School health services can meet this standard for school-age children in care if they meet the AAP’s standards for school-age children and if the results of each child’s examinations are shared with the caregiver/teacher as well as with the school health system. With parental/guardian consent, pertinent health information should be exchanged among the child’s routine source of health care and all participants in the child’s care, including any school health program involved in the care of the child.

Provision of routine preventive health services for children ensures healthy growth and development and helps detect disease when it is most treatable. Immunization prevents or reduces diseases for which effective vaccines are available. When children are receiving care that involves the school health system, such care should be coordinated by the exchange of information, with parental/guardian permission, among the school health system, the child’s medical home, and the caregiver/teacher. Such exchange will ensure that all participants in the child’s care are aware of the child’s health status and follow a common care plan.

The plotting of height and weight measurements and plotting and classification of BMI by the primary care provider or school health personnel, on a reference growth chart, will show how children are growing over time and how they compare with other children of the same chronological age and sex (1,3,4). Growth charts are based on data from national probability samples, representative of children in the general population. Their use by the primary care provider may facilitate early recognition of growth concerns, leading to further evaluation, diagnosis, and the development of a plan of care. Such a plan of care, if communicated to the caregiver/teacher, can direct the caregiver’s/teacher’s attention to disease, poor nutrition, or inadequate physical activity that requires modification of feeding or other health practices in the early care and education setting (2).

Periodic and accurate height and weight measurements that are obtained, plotted, and interpreted by a person who is competent in performing these tasks provide an important indicator of health status. If such measurements are made in the early care and education facility, the data from the measurements should be shared by the facility, subject to parental/guardian consent, with everyone involved in the child’s care, including parents/guardians, caregivers/teachers, and the child’s primary care provider. The child care health consultant can provide staff training on growth assessment. It is important to maintain strong linkage among the early care and education facility, school, parent/guardian, and the child’s primary care provider. Screening results (physical and behavioral) and laboratory assessments are only useful if a plan for care can be developed to initiate and maintain lifestyle changes that incorporate the child’s activities during their time at the early care and education program.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can also be a source for the BMI data with parental/guardian consent, as WIC tracks growth and development if the child is enrolled.

For BMI charts by sex and age, see

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Assessment and Planning of Nutrition for Individual Children
  1. Paige, D. M. 1988. Clinical nutrition. 2nd ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
  2. Kleinman, R. E. 2009. Pediatric nutrition handbook. 6th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  3. Hagan, J. F., J. S. Shaw, P. M. Duncan, eds. 2008. Bright futures: Guidelines for health supervision of infants, children, and adolescents. 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  4. Story, M., K. Holt, D. Sofka, eds. 2002. Bright futures in practice: Nutrition. 2nd ed. Arlington, VA: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011. About BMI for children and teens.
  6. Holt K, Wooldridge N, Story M, Sofka D. Growth/ In adolescence, in infancy. In: Bright Futures: Nutrition. Chicago, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2011: 95-101, 21-26, 49