Is my child growing normally?

Why is growth so important?

A child’s growth is much more than just how tall he or she is. Growth is an important indicator of overall health and well-being. That's why it is so important to know your child's "growth rate" as well as their height and weight.

If your child is not growing as he or she should, it is important that his or her doctor identifies the reason as soon as possible because a medical condition may be slowing or stopping the child’s growth.

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, ask your child’s doctor specifically to look at your child’s growth:

 

  • Is your child shorter than his or her peers or classmates?
  • Is your child growing more slowly than his or her peers or classmates? 
  • Is your child shorter than you were at that age?
 

 

How is growth measured?

Regular measuring and plotting on a growth chart is key to identifying if your child has a growth issue. Ensure that your child is measured and weighed and the results are plotted by his or her doctor regularly. If an issue with growth is suspected, or if your child was born SGA, he or she should be measured and weighed every 6 months by the doctor. Children born SGA should be measured and weighed more often — every 3 months — in the first year of life.

At each visit, your child’s doctor should measure his or her:

 

  • length (if under the age of 2) or height (age 2 or older)
  • weight
  • head circumference (the distance around the head measured just above the eyebrows; up to age 3–4) 

 

If a growth problem has been identified, your child’s doctor may run some tests to find out what’s causing the problem. At this point you should discuss with your child’s doctor if there is a medical issue that may require seeing a specialist.  Watch the video above to learn more.

 

Growth milestones

To help you detect if your child may have a growth issue, it is helpful to understand the normal growth pattern. One guide doctors use is called the ‘rule of fives’. This suggests that babies typically grow about 25 cm in the first year of life. From ages 1 to 4, they grow at a rate of about 10 cm per year. Growth slows to a rate of about 5 cm per year from the age of 4 until puberty. During puberty, there will be a period of rapid growth, called the pubertal growth spurt. A child’s growth is generally limited after puberty ends, so it is important to uncover any growth issues as early as possible to maximise growth potential.

 

Growth rates throughout childhood

 

What can affect my child’s growth?

There are several reasons why a child may not be growing as fast as his or her classmates or siblings. Some are entirely harmless and do not affect the health of your child. For example, some children simply grow at a slower rate than others but will eventually catch-up as they get older.

However, there are other more serious reasons why your child might not be growing properly. These reasons can range from being born SGA to poor nutrition to certain diseases, e.g. conditions affecting the kidneys or the liver. It may even be that a child’s body is not making enough growth hormone, the hormone responsible for making them grow. That is why it is so important to talk to a doctor the moment you suspect there may be something wrong with the way your child is growing.  

For more information about growth, read this brochure for patients and families


Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

HQMMA/NT/0815/0140 October 2015