Is my child growing fast enough?

Understanding baby growth

The growth of children is followed by the recording of height/stature and weight at different ages, and then pouring that data into a growth curve. But how much does a baby and child grow per age stage? An overview.

How much does a baby grow on average per year

  • The first year

The fist year of life is one of the periods in which the baby grows the fastest. In just one year, the baby will grow by about 25 centimeters or 9.8 inches. The average growth rate in this period is 2cm or 0.8 inches per month – and during the first 3 months the can even grow 3cm to 4cm (1.18 – 1.6 inches) in 30 days! So, a baby born with the average of 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches) of length will grow to almost 75 centimeters (nearly 30 inches) on the first birthday.

In the first year, a child grows an average of 25 cm or 9.8 inches.

  • The first 2-3 years

In the first years of life, height and weight are determined by nutrition and environment on the one hand and genetic factors such as the shape (height and bone structure) of the parents on the other. If you notice that your child’s growth has plateaued a little it, there is no need to panic immediately about the health of the child. The growth rate of a baby can be very different and depends, among other things, on the ability to process nutrients.

In the second year of life, a child grows on average of 12 cm or 4.8 inches and in the third year 8 cm or 3.2 inches.

  • From 2 to 3 years to the on-start of puberty (8 to 9 years)

From the age of 2 to 3 years, growth is also hormonally controlled, mainly by thyroid hormones and growth hormone. Growth is in stages, that is, growth is accelerates at times and then slows down. However, our body does pursue a more or less linear growth pattern, which means that children experience catch-up growth after serious illness, prematurity or adoption from a developing country. This overtaking maneuver comes to a halt as soon as the growth is back to the ‘innate’ growth pattern.

In this age period, a child grows at a rate of 4 to 7 cm ( 1.6 – 2.8 inches) per year.

  • Puberty

Puberty is a period of hormonal activity and rapid growth, the most notable of which is the growth spurt. In girls, puberty can start gently between 8 and 13 years. In boys, puberty starts between 9 and 14 years. For example, in a group of 12-year-olds, you might notice that some are already quite large and already look very mature, while others are noticeably smaller in stature and puberty is not yet visible in any characteristic.

Prior to puberty, the growth rate gradually decreases. In children with late puberty, the growth rate can even become as low as less than 4 cm (1.6 inches) per year. This is referred to as a prepuberty dip.

After puberty, girls grow an average of 23 cm (9 inches) and boys 32 cm (12.6 inches). The growth rate reaches its peak in boys on average around the age of 13 to 14 and in girls around 12 to 13.

When do we stop growing?

Increase in height of children occurs at the end of the bones because there are the growth discs. Growth stops when the growth plates are closed.

Boys grow on average about 2 years longer than girls. Those who enter puberty early generally have a greater puberty spurt in height growth. Such children are also more likely to be out of that stage compared to children who enter puberty a bit later. Furthermore, the stopping of growth is under the influence of sex hormones secreted from puberty: while some children reach their adult size around 13 years, for others, growth can continue until the age of 20.

An abnormal growth pattern may indicate an underlying pathology. If this is established, more research is needed.

What factors influence growth?

Bones grow under the influence of hormones (growth hormone, thyroid hormone and sex hormones) and growth factors, which are proteins that stimulate cells to cell division, leading to cell increase and thus growth and change. The impact of hormones and growth factors on height varies by age phase. Other factors that play a role in height growth are origin, gender and the age at which puberty begins, as well as nutrition, disease and psychosocial climate.

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