Growth of Children

When Do You Know if Your Child Has Stopped Growing?

When Growth Spurts Begin

Girls will begin puberty roughly between the ages of 8 and 13, while boys tend to start puberty between 9 and 15, according to KidsHealth. Puberty typically takes about two or three years to finish, while some children may go through puberty for four or five years, says PBS Kids. When puberty finishes, most children should be at or near their adult height, with some children growing another inch or two in the years following puberty.

The End of Growth in Girls

Puberty brings about several changes in girls: the development of breasts, a curvier body, height increases, and the onset of menstruation, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Menstruation usually starts later in puberty -- about 2 to 3 years after the breasts start developing. In many girls, menstruation is one of the final signs of puberty. Your daughter may grow a few more inches before she reaches her adult height, usually in her mid teens.

The End of Growth in Boys

Puberty can also bring about dramatic changes for boys. A deepening voice, acne, maturation of the reproductive organs and dramatic increases in height and muscle mass are common hallmarks of puberty for boys, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Once your son has met all of these landmarks, he will likely stop growing. Boys may also experience tenderness or swelling in their chests during puberty, and this is temporary and normal, according to PBS Kids. Most boys will finish puberty during the later teenage years.

Growth Problems and Additional Help

Some boys and girls may enter their mid teens without beginning puberty. If you are concerned about your daughter's growth, take her to her pediatrician for help. Your daughter may be developing normally, but more slowly than average, says KidsHealth. In some cases, a child may need hormone therapy to induce the start of puberty, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Stunted growth or delayed puberty may also be caused by eating disorders or digestive problems. Solving those problems may help your child begin puberty.

Delayed Growth in a Teen Boy

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not secrete enough growth hormones. In teens, it can cause delayed development and poor growth. According to MayoClinic.com, teens who develop hypothyroidism exhibit delayed puberty. Symptoms can include dry skin, a hoarse voice, a puffy face, impaired memory and constipation.

ADHD Medication

Teens who are on stimulant medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can have slowed physical development, according to a study published in the “Medical Journal of Australia” in January 2013. The study was done on boys ages 12 to 16 years on stimulant-treated ADHD for at least three years. The results also revealed that delayed development increases with the dose of stimulant medication. Boys under the medication were significantly behind their peers in pubertal development and height.

Malnutrition

One of the most common causes of delayed growth is malnutrition caused by eating disorders or medication. Your teen needs nutrients such as vitamin A, B-6, C, D and E, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium and zinc for proper growth and development. For example, he needs calcium and vitamin D to build bones toward his adult health. Data from a report published on the “Pediatrics and Children Health” journal in January 2008 indicates that for early onset eating disorders, boys are more affected than girls.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Another cause of delayed growth in teen boys is sickle cell anemia. According to a study published in the journal of “Pediatric Blood Cancer” in October 2009, teens who have sickle cell anemia experience growth delays during puberty. The study attributes that to a lower hemoglobin concentration in the teens and increased energy expenditure.

Activities to Observe a Child's Physical Development

0-12 Months

A baby grows in many ways during her first year, but one of the most exciting to observe is her physical growth. Observe her following objects with her eyes as you move them close by. Smile and talk to your baby. Watch her mimic your faces. Place toys near by for her to roll over and grab. Give her a lot of floor time with you. When she holds her head up while lying on her belly, give her a lot of applause. Place toys and other interesting objects in the room. See her learn how to move toward them as she learns to crawl. Sturdy furniture for her to pull up on gives you a chance to watch her gain the physical strength and balance needed to start walking. Transfer a ball from hand to hand and then give her the ball and observe her mimicking your actions.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

From walking to balancing and kicking, children grow by leaps and bounds physically during their toddler and preschool years. Provide the room and exploration time for him to develop his skills. This play time should include taking walks with you and walking up and down stairs in tandem. According to KidsHealth, independent play time on a playground structure gives him opportunities to show his balancing, movement and coordination skills. Play ball with your child. Notice his newly developed skills of throwing and kicking. Smaller motor skills to observe include picking up small objects and using scissors. Ask your child to string beads and cut along a line to observe these skills.

School Children

Children between the ages of 6 and 12 grow about 2 1/2 inches per year and gain around 5 to 7 pounds. They are getting stronger and obtaining new coordination skills. Your child's growth in the elementary years are observed by watching her skip, run and play with balls. She catches, throws and kicks a ball to a target. She progresses to catching, throwing and kicking a ball on the move. Riding a bike is another observable skill. Biking takes coordination, balance and strength. Jumping rope with grace and agility is another skill that shows her growth.

Teens

The greatest amount of growth in height and weight comes between the ages of 13 and 18, according to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. Chart his growth to see these changes. Puberty occurs in children at this stage. Your child might not be familiar with his new body brought on by puberty and growth spurts of the teen years. Observe him in activities he feels comfortable doing. Encourage exercise to help him become a self-confident and active adult.

Reasons for Delayed Physical Development in Toddlers

Failure to Thrive

Failure to thrive is a condition in which a child's growth is slowed or stopped, according to KidsHealth, a child development site. There are many possible causes of failure to thrive. Parents may purposely or unintentionally restrict the amount of food the child needs. Physical problems that can complicate eating, such as malformation of the mouth, may need correction with surgery. Illnesses like urinary tract infections or metabolic problems that make it difficult to break down food may also cause failure to thrive. A pediatrician will run tests to figure out why your child is no longer growing.

Growth and Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your little one is taking the time to build up the strength to take on the outside world. Complications during pregnancy or birth can cause developmental delays in children for the rest of their lives, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Mothers who smoked during pregnancy may have an underweight baby at birth, and growth problems may continue beyond birth. Babies who contracted infections during pregnancy or shortly after birth may also show developmental delays during the toddler years, along with children who were born prematurely, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Genetic Reasons

Some toddlers simply grow more slowly than the average, and while parents may be concerned, a pediatrician can offer reassurance. Growth problems may only be a concern if a child's growth pattern suddenly changes.Other genetic problems, like Down syndrome, may cause shorter stature than average, according to the University of Michigan Health System. If you and your partner are short or either of you carries a genetic abnormality that reduces your height, it may be passed on to your child.

When and How to Act on Delayed Development

The early years set the stage for the rest of your child's life. As soon as you suspect that your child's physical development is delayed, speak to a pediatrician about your concerns. Every state also has a program called "Early Intervention," which serves children up to age 3, according to the National Centers for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Contact school districts in your area about their Early Intervention teams. An Early Intervention team will assess your child and notify you of any additional tests or services that your little one needs.

When Do Growth Spurts Start in Boys?

Summer and Nighttime Sky Rockets

There's no exact science for predicting growth spurts in boys but studies show that certain seasons and times of the day are relevant factors. According to Joseph Gigante, associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, both girls and boys grow fastest in the summer and slowest in the fall, as reported in "Parenting" magazine. In addition, the human growth hormone is produced throughout the day in children, preteens and teenagers, but is released in large doses during sleep. As a result, some growth spurts in boys are most obvious in the summer when they get good amounts of rest and plenty of physical activity.

Puberty at Last

Many boys experience a drastic change in height shortly after puberty begins. According to KidsHealth.org, boys often grow most rapidly between the ages of 12 and 15. Some boys show early signs of puberty around age 10, but growth spurts usually start a year or two later. Not all boys experience noticeable, acute growth spurts and may grow at a steady rate. Genetic factors, eating habits, exercise, sleep and overall health play important roles in a boy's height increases.

Gender Matters

Boys and girls often experience growth spurts at different ages. The average growth spurt for a boy occurs 2 years later than a similar spurt in girls. Because girls often enter puberty earlier than boys, they might experience a growth spurt as early as age 10 but completely stop growing around age 15. Boys on the other hand might not experience a growth spurt until age 12, but often continue growing until age 17, according to "Parenting" magazine. Some teen boys might even experience small height increases as they enter adulthood.

Self-Image Blues

Preteen and teen boys often feel self-conscious if they aren't as tall as their peers or they experience growth spurts later than their friends. As a result, they might develop a poor self-image and consider height-inducing supplements or steroids. Encourage your son to talk to his doctor or pediatrician about any health-related concerns or anxieties, recommend the experts at KidsHealth.org. Doctors offer professional advice and will likely reassure your child that his height falls within normal ranges. They can also detail the harmful side effects of steroids and other growth-related drugs.

Waking a Napping Baby During Growth Spurts

Necessity

According to Elizabeth LaFleur, a registered nurse, you might need to wake your baby from naps that last more than four hours during the first few weeks of life. During this time, your baby is experiencing a significant growth spurt as she works to put back on the weight that she lost immediately following delivery, so it’s important that she eat every few hours and have a total of eight to 12 feedings a day. Once your baby is steadily gaining weight and reaching developmental milestones, it’s OK to let her sleep as often as she needs, even during other periods of rapid growth.

Disadvantages

Just like nourishment, sleeping is also necessary during growth spurts. KidsHealth.org indicates that your baby needs around 16 to 20 hours of sleep a day during the first six months. At around 4 months of age, his naps will become more regular and will occur two to three times a day. From 6 to 12 months, he will sleep about 11 hours at night and have a few naps that total three to four hours a day. Naps give your baby the energy that he needs to observe and explore his environment. If you consistently wake him from his naps unnecessarily, he will miss out on the sleep he needs for growth and development.

Recommendations

As your baby gets older, you can expect her to gradually begin eating more at each feeding and spacing her feedings farther apart. According to KidsHealth.org, wetting four to six diapers a day is a sign that your baby is getting enough to eat. Typically, you can expect her to sleep when she needs to and wake up on her own if she is hungry, even in growth spurts.

Considerations

Keep in mind that each baby is different and has different needs. For example, if your baby was born prematurely, he might need to be woken to eat for a longer period of time after birth than most babies in an attempt to help him gain weight. Your baby’s doctor will help you determine if your baby’s weight gain is normal and whether you need to wake him from naps to eat.

Does Quality Nutrition Help Kids Grow Bigger?

Needs

Quality nutrition is needed to help your child grow and to provide her with the energy she needs for physical activity that furthers her development. Her needs vary according to her age -- for example, nutrition experts at the non-profit HelpGuide.org indicate that toddlers need 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day, which only increases through adolescence. Overall, she needs a balance of carbohydrates, grains, protein and healthy fats in order to reach her full growth potential. She also needs extra iron, found in red meat and fortified cereals, and calcium, found in dairy products, during the teen years and during periods of growth spurts.

Extras

The American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org states that you can expect your child to grow a little over 2 inches a year in height and gain about 6 1/2 pounds a year in middle childhood. However, his growth is influenced mostly by genetics and is not necessarily increased by quality nutrition. In fact, the website indicates that even picky eaters will typically still grow normally, and extra calories from nutritious foods can end up just causing weight gain.

Considerations

Keep in mind that your child needs exercise to grow and develop, in addition to healthy foods. Too much sedentary activity, such as watching television and playing video games, can impair her bone growth, according to HealthyChildren.org. Make sure your child spends time playing outside every day, when possible, and encourage her to get involved in extracurricular activities, like sports.

Recommendations

Instead of trying to improve nutrition simply for growth reasons, focus on consistently providing your child with healthy foods by cooking at home, making healthy snacks available and getting your child involved in trying new foods. Authors at HelpGuide.org recommend against banning sweets and junk food altogether, since that can invite cravings and overindulging. Talk to your child’s doctor if you feel that he is not growing or gaining weight consistently or if you feel that he is gaining too much weight.

Can Growth Spurts Cause a Baby to Wake Up in the Middle of the Night?

Typical Growth Spurts

According to the Mayo Clinic website, growth spurts typically occur at 2 to 3 weeks and at 6 weeks. After that, you can expect your baby to go through a growth spurt every few months during the first year. However, each baby grows at her own pace, so growth spurts can occur at any time. Keep in mind that during the newborn phase, your baby is likely to wake up in the middle of the night before she masters the skill of sleeping through the night, so growth spurts are not always to blame for night wakings.

Hunger Signs

Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend ignoring the clock and instead focusing on signs of hunger for feeding your baby, regardless of the time of day or night. Hunger signs include sucking his hands, sticking out his tongue or turning his head to look for something to suck. Crying is a late sign of hunger, so by the time your baby wakes up at night, he is most likely ready to eat. If your baby is breastfed, you might notice that he wakes up more frequently than a formula-fed baby would, as breast milk digests more quickly.

Sleeping

When growth spurts are not a factor, you can help your baby sleep better at night by starting a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine, according to the Kids Health professionals. Go about your regular activities during the day and minimize noise and light at night to signal to your baby that it’s time for sleep. Consider adding activities like a warm bath, a story book and an infant massage to your baby’s bedtime routine.

Recommendations

At your baby’s regular check-ups, his doctor will keep track of his weight gain and ask questions about his sleeping and eating patterns. However, if you are concerned about your baby’s night wakings or how his growth spurts are affecting his rest, ask his doctor about what you can do to get through the rough patch.