Most of us take growth for granted — after all, don’t all children grow to be normal adult size one day? In most cases, yes. But for some children, growth is a struggle. They seem to stay the same size forever. So, how do you know when your child is growing properly?
HOW CHILDREN GROW
Growth begins at conception. It’s a complex process that can be influenced by many internal and external factors, including the parents’ size and the child’s nutrition, as well as some diseases. There’s a wide range of normal growth patterns in both height and weight for boys and girls.
Growth is also rapid during the first year of life. By their first birthday, most babies have grown 7 to 10 inches in length and tripled their birth weight. Growth begins to slow between ages 1 and 2 (4 to 5½ inches a year). After age 2, growth remains steady until adolescence, when teens experience a puberty-related growth spurt. Growth continues until the child is 16 to 18 years old, when the bone ends fuse.
TRACKING YOUR CHILD’S GROWTH
One of the most important things you can do to ensure your child’s health and proper growth is to schedule regular doctor examinations. During routine wellness checkups, your doctor keeps track of your child’s growth on a chart, which shows not only height and weight at any given age, but tracks the rate at which your child grows from month to month (for babies) or year to year (for older children).
SYMPTOMS OF GROWTH PROBLEMS
If you are worried about your child’s growth, ask yourself these questions:
- Is he the shortest or tallest in his class?
- Is she still wearing last year’s clothes or outgrowing clothes much faster than usual?
- Is he unable to keep up with other kids his same age at play?
- Is she growing less than 2 inches per year?
- Does he complain about his size?
If you answer “yes” to any of these, discuss your child’s growth with his doctor. Your physician will decide whether your child’s size or growth curve is a cause for concern. Remember, your child’s growth rate over a period of time is more important in detecting a growth problem than his or her size at the moment.
If you suspect a problem or your child is concerned about her size, see your doctor.