Toddler Growth Spurts: Age, Symptoms And Timeline

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Toddler growth spurts may occur between the ages of one and three years. Toddlers grow a few inches and gain a few pounds each year of toddlerhood (1). Growth spurts are periods when a toddler has sudden and intense growth. As a result, they may appear hungrier and need more food than usual to meet the extra energy needs due to rapid growth.

Additional supplements or treatments are not required during growth spurts unless the toddler has some nutritional deficiencies. The growth rate is periodically reviewed during pediatric visits using growth charts. Doctors may prescribe supplements if needed.

Read on to learn more about the signs of toddler growth spurts, ways to estimate height, and reasons for short stature.

When Do Toddlers Grow?

A child grows in phases, and it is not a continuous process. You may observe a sudden increase in growth and then a stable phase. A toddler’s growth timeline may include the following stages (2).

  • Year one: In their first year of life, a baby may gain half a pound per month and grow taller by four to five inches.
  • Year two: Your toddler may gain three to four pounds and grow taller by three to four inches in the second year. 
  • Year three: Your toddler may grow two to three inches taller and gain four to six pounds of weight in the third year.

After the completion of three years, the rapid growth may decrease, and they may have growth spurts again only during puberty. However, the height and weight of your child will continue to increase gradually. Usually, they may gain nearly six pounds and grow two inches taller per year during the school ages.

What Are The Signs Of Toddler Growth Spurts?

The following signs are often associated with growth spurts in toddlers.

  • Increased hunger
  • Sleeping more number of hours at a time
  • Increase in height and weight

Some toddlers may complain of leg pain and often wake up from sleep during growth spurts. Children usually outgrow this phase without specific signs and symptoms.

How Tall Would A Toddler Be?

When it comes to a child’s height, genetics plays a significant role (3). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, tall parents usually have tall children, and short parents usually have short children. “Those are the realities of genetics,” adds the academy (4).

The average height of a toddler is mostly calculated based on the parent’s height rather than comparing it with a similar age group. You can use the mid-parental height formula to determine the projected adult height of your toddler in inches (5).

  • Girls: [(Father’s height in inches – 5) + Mother’s height in inches] divided by 2
  • Boys: [(Father’s height in inches + 5) + Mother’s height in inches] divided by 2

The formula represents the projected height, and there could be variations since a toddler’s adult height depends on other factors, as well.

Besides genetics, the following factors may cause changes in height (6).

  • Nutrition: Toddlers with malnutrition may not achieve their natural growth rate.
  • Medical problems: Thyroid abnormalities, chromosomal anomalies, kidney problems, gastrointestinal diseases, such as celiac disease and other malabsorption disorders, heart defects, and food allergies may reduce the growth rate in toddlers.
  • Sleep: Inadequate sleep may hinder toddlers’ growth and development since the growth hormone is mainly released during sleep.
  • Psychosocial growth failure: Stress and poor emotional health of a child may result in a slower growth rate.

Toddlers may begin to grow after the correction of nutritional deficiencies, treatment of diseases, and when they are moved to a supportive and safe environment. However, genetic factors cannot be changed. 

What Might Cause A Toddler To Have A Short Stature?

The primary cause of short stature is usually inherited genes from the parents (7). Growth delay and medical conditions could be the other causes. Most healthy toddlers grow at a regular rate and enter puberty at an average age. They may reach an estimated height at puberty. Medications, supplements, or treatments to increase height are not recommended for children.

Some children may have short stature due to growth delay. Although they had normal growth during the early months of life, some babies may fall below the average growth between six months and two years. Some may grow after this age and catch up to adult height. It is more common in boys than girls. This is a natural process, and treatments are not required.

If short stature is due to a deficiency of growth hormone, a pediatrician may prescribe growth hormone injections based on the growth chart and parental height.

A toddler’s growth spurts are a natural part of their development. During the first three years of life, there are several growth surges. Toddler growth spurts result in various physical and behavioral changes, including increased eating, sleep disturbances, increased height and weight, and so on. Each toddler goes through a growth spurt at a different period and rate. Despite their development spurts, some toddlers may be shorter than others. A child’s height is determined by genetics, nutrition, and underlying medical issues, among other factors.

Key Pointers

  • Toddler growth spurts happen during the first three years of their lives.
  • The growth spurts are characterized by the child’s height, weight, appetite, or sleeping more hours at a stretch.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, sleep, other medical conditions may also impact the child’s height.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. The Growing Child: 3-Year-Olds; Johns Hopkins Medicine
2. Child Development Guide: 3 Years; Children’s Hospital of Orange County
3. Is height determined by genetics?; MedlinePlus; The United States National Library of Medicine
4. Physical Changes During Puberty; American Academy of Pediatrics
5. Evaluation of Short and Tall Stature in Children; The American Academy of Family Physicians
6. Height Calculator – Best Child Height Predictor; MDApp
7. When a Child is Unusually Short; Healthychildren; The American Academy of Pediatrics
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Dr. Anuradha Bansal

(MD)
Dr. Anuradha Bansal is a pediatrician and neonatologist working as assistant professor in the Department of Paediatrics at PIMS Jalandhar. She has done her MBBS and MD Pediatrics at GMCH, Chandigarh. Thereafter, she polished her skills as senior resident at MAMC, Delhi. She has also done IAP Fellowship in Neonatology at GMCH, Chandigarh and obtained the membership of the prestigious... more

Dr Bisny T. Joseph

Dr. Bisny T. Joseph is a Georgian Board-certified physician. She has completed her professional graduate degree as a medical doctor from Tbilisi State Medical University, Georgia. She has 3+ years of experience in various sectors of medical affairs as a physician, medical reviewer, medical writer, health coach, and Q&A expert. Her interest in digital medical education and patient education made... more