Your Child's Growth
What Is Growth?
From the moment parents greet their newborn, they watch the baby's progress eagerly, anticipating every inch of growth and each new developmental milestone along the way. But how can they tell if their child is growing properly?
Physical growth refers to the increases in height and weight and other body changes that occur as a child matures. Hair grows; teeth come in, come out, and come in again; and eventually puberty hits. It's all part of the growth process.
The first year of life is a time of astonishing change during which babies, on average, grow 10 inches (25 centimeters) in length and triple their birth weights.
Given all the growth that occurs then, new parents might be surprised when their child doesn't continue to grow through the roof after the first year. But no child continues the rate of growth experienced during infancy. After age 1, a baby's growth in length slows considerably, and by 2 years, growth in height usually continues at a fairly steady rate of approximately 2½ inches (6 centimeters) per year until adolescence.
No child grows at a perfectly steady rate throughout this period of childhood, however. Weeks or months of slightly slower growth alternate with mini "growth spurts" in most children. Kids actually tend to grow a bit faster in the spring than during other times of the year!
A major growth spurt occurs at the time of puberty, usually between age 8 to 13 years in girls and 10 to 15 years in boys. Puberty lasts about 2 to 5 years. This growth spurt is associated with sexual development, which includes the appearance of pubic and underarm hair, the growth and development of sex organs, and in girls, the onset of menstruation.
By the time girls reach age 15 and boys reach age 16 or 17, the growth associated with puberty will have ended for most and they will have reached physical maturity.
At the Doctor's Office
Beginning in infancy, kids will visit a doctor for regular checkups, during which the doctor will record height and weight as they compare with that of other kids the same age on a growth chart. This valuable tool can help the doctor determine whether a child is growing at an appropriate rate or whether there might be problems.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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