By Lisa Pecos
Whether a child is growing like a weed or fitting into the same size they did the previous season; parents can’t help but wonder if their child is growing normally. Let’s take a look at what’s normal and what isn’t throughout the stages of your child’s life.
From Birth to their First Birthday
Babies go through incredible changes during their first year of life, growing an average of 10 inches in length and triple their birth weight.
Ages 1 to 3
Your child’s growth rate will slow and become steadier when he or she reaches the toddler years. This is when babies begin to slim down and lose their chubby rolls. After the age of one, the average growth rate in height is approximately 2.5 inches a year up until adolescence.
It’s important to avoid comparing your child’s rate of growth to other children since no child grows at the exact rate of another or at a perfectly steady rate either. Children can experience a series of mini growth spurts with slower growing in between or major growth spurts depending on various factors such as their age and even the time of year.
You’ll notice the biggest changes during puberty when major growth spurts are more likely. This is usually between the age of 8 and 13 in girls and 10 and 15 in boys, which is why girls tend to be taller than their male classmates during this sometimes awkward stage. Along with this also comes all of the other development associated with puberty, like underarm and pubic hair, and the start of menstruation.
By the age of 15 most girls have reached their physical maturity. Boys reach their physical maturity around the age of 16 or 17.
What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children Grow Normally
As a parent, you can help ensure that your child grows and develops properly by ensuring that they:
- Eat properly. Proper nutrition through a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals will help your child grow and develop, as well as lower their risk of disease.
- Get enough sleep. Proper sleep is crucial for a child’s health and well-being. Most children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity is lowers the risk of obesity and can help your child maintain a healthy weight now and later on in life. Exercise also strengthens bones, which is another important part of proper growth.
When to Worry
Regular doctor’s visits throughout your child’s life will allow the doctor to track your child’s growth and alert them to any concerns. Head circumference, unusual weight gain or loss, or delayed growth can all be indicators of a medical issue.
Medical conditions that can affect growth can include heart conditions, diabetes, malnutrition, and endocrine diseases.
You can track your child’s growth using a growth chart. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following growth charts:
Ages 0 to 2: WHO growth standards
Ages 2 and up: CDC growth charts
If you have any concerns about your child’s growth and development, talk to your child’s doctor.