Hey parents, does it sometimes seem like your child grew bigger seemingly overnight? Growth is a natural part of your little one’s path as they age to adulthood. But if suddenly it seems like they’ve nearly gained an inch or so, you could be witnessing a growth spurt! These rapid onsets in growth will occur as they go into adulthood, and as early as their toddler years.
Understanding what to expect and the signs of growth spurts in your toddler will help you best support them during this phase in their physical development. Knowing what to watch for, signs of a toddler growth spurt, and when to consult with your tike’s healthcare provider will ensure they’re growing healthfully.
What is a Growth Spurt?
A growth spurt is exactly as it sounds—a period of rapid growth. It typically involves increasing your child's height and weight and other body changes. Growth spurts usually occur during infancy, toddlerhood, and your mighty teen’s adolescent years. However, puberty is considered the only real growth spurt.
Phases of growth are described in three phases as follows:
- Phase 1: Fast and accelerating infant growth that lasts until about the age of 3
- Phase 2: Steady height increases in childhood
- Phase 3: Adolescent growth spurt until the adult height is reached
Toddler Growth Spurt Ages and Measurements
During the toddler years (ages 1 to 3), your walking, talking tiny human will continue to grow and develop. Most toddlers grow three to four inches and gain three to our pounds each year. You may not notice a substantial growth spurt but know that growth is steadily occurring.
Where is your child in terms of the typical toddler growth spurt timelines?
1 to 2 years
- Gain five pounds in weight
- Gain four to five inches in height
2 to 3 years
- Gain four pounds in weight
- Gain two to three inches in height
3 to 4 years
- Gain four to six pounds in weight
- Gain two to three inches in height
Support your Child’s Growth
You can support your child’s optimal growth with these three key strategies:
- Regular rest: As your child grows, they will exert a lot of energy. Ensuring they are well-rested is critical. A toddler should have between 10-12 hours of rest daily.
- Healthy foods: Foods will help energize your toddler and provide the essential nutrients their bodies need for healthy growth and development. Regularly provide healthy snacks and meals.
- Stay active: Active play and activities contribute to your toddler's healthy growth and muscle tone development. Keep them engaged, moving, and happy.
Do Boys and Girls Grow the Same?
What are Signs of Growth Spurts?
Did your little one wake up taller today? As your toddler grows, you may notice some signs of growth, including:
- Hungrier more often
- More sleepiness or seeming to be tired
- Growing pains that may awaken your child in the night—these dull but stronger pains mainly occur in their legs
- Outgrowing clothing
- Mood shifts, maybe a bit grumpy or tearful
- Cravings for foods that are usually their favorite
- Clumsiness and falling down more often
The Genetics of Growth
The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet
Feed your child a well-balanced diet, ensure they get plenty of activity and just as much rest time. Fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and calcium-rich foods are essential to include in your child's diet.Know that every child develops slightly differently, so faster or slower growth does not necessarily mean a problem exists. If you have concerns about your child's growth, please discuss them with your child's healthcare provider to determine if there is anything out of the ordinary happening with your tiny tike.
When Toddlers Experience Delayed Growth Spurts
If your toddler “falls off” their toddler growth chart, your child’s healthcare provider will help guide you through proper management and treatment to support your child's healthy growth and development. Some common causes of growth delay include the following:
- Family history of short stature
- Constitutional growth delay
- Growth hormone deficiency
- Turner’s Syndrome
Other less common causes of delayed growth include the following:
- Poor nutrition
- Severe stress
- Down syndrome
- Kidney, lung, and digestive diseases
- Certain types of anemia, such as sickle cell
Your child's healthcare provider will start by asking for a detailed medical history, which may include the following questions regarding your child's and family's medical history:
- Information about the birth mother's pregnancy
- Child's weight and length, and birth
- Height of other people in the family
- Any information on family members with growth delays
By Shawana S. Moore, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC
Shawana S. Moore, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, is a women’s health nurse practitioner. She serves as an Associate Professor and the Director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University. She is passionate about equitable, respectful, and inclusive maternal-child care. The information of this article has been prepared by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.