Growth Spurts In Toddlers And Children
One of the main concerns that parenthood may bring is to keep a tab on whether your kids are growing properly or not. Growth depends on many factors, and your kid may not have the same growth pattern as his peers or even sometimes siblings.
Signs such as sudden endless hunger, weight gain, or a few inches increase in height may be more than just regular signs. Such signs generally indicate that your kid is going through a sudden growth spurt and that it’s perfectly normal!
How Do Kids Grow?
If your little one is growing 2-2.5 inches taller per year and putting on at least 3 kilos every year, your child’s growth is perfectly normal. This, of course, is just indicative and your child may be growing or simply be the same height, and gain or lose weight depending upon a few factors. Here is a list of signs of the growth spurt in toddlers as has been gathered from several studies.
- Sudden and endless hunger
- More sleeping hours for your kid
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Change in size of clothes or shoes within a period of days
- Sudden aches or pains after 3 years of age as limbs grow longer
- The centre of gravity may shift
- Puberty, in the case of older kids
How to Respond to Growth Spurts?
This part may be rather tricky since there is usually a thin line between giving your kid enough food and overfeeding them! Also, there are more factors than just food that determine how you should respond to your kid’s sudden growth spurt. Here are a few suggestions;
- Proper food at proper times with probably bigger portions of food, though not too much
- Stocking up on free sized clothes
- Regular exercising to keep the dull aches in check
- Coming up with a good sleep pattern, maybe with some nap time thrown in
- Choosing proper medication in case the pain is too much
- Seeking medical help in case the pains persist long after the growth spurt is over
What About Growing Pains?
As has been discussed earlier, there is a possibility that your child will complain of sudden pains when the growth spurt hits. There are very few studies that actually suggest that these pains are connected to sudden growth in bones or muscles.
Nevertheless, your kid will probably complain about said pain, generally after a particularly active day. These aches can manifest anywhere, but the general trend points to the pain in the knees, legs and thighs. Along with toddlers, kids hitting puberty may also feel spasms in their muscles due to hormonal changes.
Usually, some light exercise, over the counter medication, or even light massages keep the pain at bay. However, if the pain does not go away at the end of the growth spurt, or there is sudden swelling or tenderness around those areas, a medical practitioner must be consulted to rule out possibilities of infection, orthopaedic problems, cancers, fractures or even juvenile arthritis in certain cases.
Delay in Growth
As already covered, every child has a particular growth pattern that may differ from peers, siblings etc. Delayed growth usually strikes after the child turns 2, and it is usually dependent upon two factors;
- Delayed puberty: Commonly known as constitutional growth delay, the signs manifest anytime between 6 months or 2 years of age. The kids are usually normal in size and weight as newborn babies, but growth slows once they reach the age of 6 months – 2 years. Unless any other problem manifests, the rate of growth will pick up after the completion of the second year.
- Family: It seems almost cruel to suggest that you or your partner could have a lot to do with your kid’s delayed growth. It’s not uncommon to see that if one of you is short, your child may be short. Not that it’s something that should be of medical concern.
What About Food Preferences?
In most cases, parents need not do anything extraordinary during growth spurts to satisfy the hunger of their kids. It’s rather a good idea to be fair, but draw a line where required as your kid may tend to lean on certain food groups, which may not always be a healthy choice. So, here are a few suggestions:
- Stock up on healthy snacks.
- Add a good amount of protein.
- Include nuts and fruits.
- Chocolate and sweets should be offered in moderation.
- Offer plenty of water and fluids.
- Heavy breakfast, medium-heavy lunch, and light dinner with equal amounts of vegetables and proteins is the ideal way to go about meals.
- In case of toddlers, increase the times of breastfeeding by 1-2. For formula fed babies, you can either split one formula in two meals or add an in-between meal.
- Consumption of milk and milk products should not be encouraged.
- Introduce calcium and vitamin D into the diet.
What Can Parents Do?
Growth spurt can hit at any point between infancy to puberty. In general, the toddler growth spurts timeline is anytime between 12 months to 36 months of age. The problem is that there is little that you can do expect make sure that they are taken care of and that the growth takes place steadily. There are some suggestions that follow;
- Growth spurts 18 months can be a crucial and you must take care not to over-feed your child because of endless hunger.
- Consult a specialist if you have twins, triplets or quadruplets and growth spurts in kids seem to be majorly different.
- Regulate meals and naps
- Chart the growth pattern of your kid and ensure that she/he is healthy and fit.
Though not every kid grows in the same manner, there is usually a pattern in which your kid is growing. Growth spurts are normal, but even if your kid doesn’t go through the same, chances are your kid is still healthy and proportionate as per the pattern charted by your paediatrician.