Growing Spurts in Toddlers

By Ashley Garay
Toddlers are always growing, but may do so in recognizable spurts as well.
Toddlers are always growing, but may do so in recognizable spurts as well.

Your baby grew by leaps and bounds in his first year, going from a helpless newborn to an alert infant and mobile toddler. Now your toddler is continuing to grow, albeit at a slightly slower rate. You can still expect growing spurts as your toddler seems to grow out of clothes seemingly overnight, but these spurts are not without signals and symptoms from notoriously moody toddlers. While you are buying clothes in a bigger size, consider why your toddler grows and how that affects the rest of her life.

How Toddlers Grow

Toddlers, like all humans, grow due to the release of human growth hormone into their bodies. Human growth hormone is released throughout the day, but primarily at night during sleep. A good night's sleep not only keeps your toddler happier, but ensures that they are getting the proper balance of hormones to help them grow. A toddler's growth also depends mostly on his genetics. While nutrition and exercise certainly affect your child's ultimate size, his height and weight are mostly already programmed from the moment of his conception.

When Toddlers Grow

You already know toddlers grow mostly at night, but larger growth spurts actually occur more often in the summer than any other season, though nobody really has a good explanation for the phenomena. Children grow at a rapid pace during their first year of life, but during the first two years, the pace and spacing of growth spurts may vary. Birth weight and genetics combine to determine how quickly a child will grow, as a small baby may grow to be an average-size child and adult and therefore must grow more rapidly during her first few years to catch up from a lower birth weight.

How Growing Affects Toddlers

Growing is hard work, even if your toddler isn't even aware of the effort her body is putting out. Therefore, you can expect changes in your toddler's behavior before, during and after a growth spurt. She may greatly increase her appetite and sleep more leading up to a growth spurt as her body works to gather its resources to grow. She may also be cranky or wake up with achy arms or legs due to growing pains. After a growth spurt, your toddler may struggle to get back on her regular sleeping and eating routine, so if you notice she has just grown out of all her clothes, try to drum up a little extra patience for dealing with her.

When to Be Concerned

If your toddler suffers from supposed growing pains that actually last beyond nighttime and are accompanied by swelling, fevers, rashes or an inability to use the limb correctly, contact a doctor as this is likely more than a simple growing pain. If you are worried about your child being too small or too large, contact your doctor to have a discussion about your toddlers growth. There is a very large range of normal for a child's growth, but if your toddler has differed significantly from his previously established growth curve based on a growth chart, it will be worth trying to figure out why with the help of your doctor.