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Normal Growth of Young Children

Question of the Week

By

Updated May 20, 2014

Midwife playing with and weighing baby (0-6 months) in hospital
Hans Neleman/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Q. My pediatrician measures my infant's height, weight and head circumference at each well child visit. How can I look at these numbers and see if my child is growing normally?

A. Regular measurements of your child's height, weight and head circumference and plotting them on a growth chart are a good way to see if your child is growing normally. Although many parents are preoccupied by where their child is on the growth charts and often worry if their child is small or near the bottom of the growth chart, it is your child's rate of growth that is the most important factor to consider when evaluating if your child is growing and developing normally. If your child is following his growth curve, then he is likely growing normally.

Also keep in mind that some children can normally move up or down on their growth curves when they are 6-18 months old. As long as they are not actually losing weight, and they have no other symptoms, such as persistent diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite or having frequent infections, then it may be normal to move down on your growth percentiles. Older children should stick to their growth curves fairly closely though.

General guidelines for your younger child's growth rates include:

Weight:

  • 2 weeks - regains birth weight and then gains about 1 1/2 - 2 pounds a month
  • 3 months - gains about 1 pound a month
  • 5 months - doubles birth weight
  • 1 year - triples birth weight and then gains about 1/2 pound a month
  • 2 years - quadruples birth weight and then gains about 4-5 pounds a year
  • 9-10 years - increased weight gain as puberty approaches, often about 10 pounds a year
Height:
  • 0-12 months - grows about 10 inches (25 cm)
  • 1-2 years - grows about 5 inches (13 cm)
  • 2-3 years - grows about 3 1/2 inches a year most children will double their birth height by 3-4 years of age
  • 3 years to puberty - grows about 2 inches (5cm) a year
Head Circumference:
  • 0-3 months - 2 centimeters a month
  • 4-6 months - 1 centimeters a month
  • 6-12 months - 1/2 centimeter a month
  • 1-2 years - 2 centimeters a year
Remember that these are general guidelines though. Your child may grow a little more or a little less than this each year. If you have concerns about your child's growth, especially if you think that he has failure to thrive (poor weight gain) or short stature (poor growth in height), be sure to talk to your Pediatrician.

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