Toddler Growth Spurts: Timeline & Helpful Things To Know

A great deal of change and milestones occur within the toddler years.
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Have you ever questioned if your toddler is growing at an average pace?

The toddler years are a prime time in a child’s life, full of new milestones and exciting challenges. It feels like suddenly they were a tiny baby in your arms, and within the blink of an eye, they are suddenly so big.

It’s these years you’ll notice so many changes, from walking to talking, to more of their personality shining through. One key change is the amount they grow as they gain weight and get taller. You may well have heard of the phrase growth spurts, but what exactly does it mean, and what are the ages for toddler growth spurts?

Here’s all you need to know about toddler growth spurts and when to expect them. If you are interested in additional parenting articles, take a look at sleep regression here or learn all about how to throw a great toddler's birthday party.

When Are Toddler Growth Spurts?

Children are constantly growing and changing, and a physical growth spurt is when there’s a sudden noticeable change in height (and sometimes weight) in a short space of time. Baby and toddler growth spurt ages begin from their first year of life until they are four years old.

When it comes to toddlers, you may have already noticed some children grow at a steady pace, while others shoot up quickly over a short span of time. Although the average is roughly 2-3 in (5.08-7.62 cm) a year, every child is different when it comes to how much they grow. Some toddlers can gain this in shorts spurts, while for others, it may be much more gradual.

The same applies to how much weight your little one gains. Your toddler might increase a few pounds in a short space of time, often before their physical development decreases for a little while. Here's what you can expect at the different toddler growth spurts ages.

1-2 Years: Within your toddler’s first and second birthday, it’s typical to see a growth of around 5 in (12.7 cm) and 5 lb (2.3 kg) by 2 years of age. You’ll also see your child's head size increase during this time. Boys are often a pound heavier than girls.

2-3 Years: Your child should gain around 4-5 lb (1.8-2.3 kg) and grow in height by 2-3 in (5.08-7.62 cm). They’ll become much more active and confident with walking and running.

The Third Year: By the end of your child’s third year of life, your child’s growth will have increased in height by another 2-3 in (5.08-7.62 cm).  By three years, kids will be approximately 50% of their adult height, although it is still very early to accurately predict their adult height.

They will also have gained another 4-5 lb (1.8-2.3 kg).  During this time, you will notice your toddler will visibly change a lot. Their face will start to change shape, and they will lose their toddler tummy. You may also see their legs getting longer, and older clothes no longer fitting! Remember that growth can occur at a steady pace or in shorter spurts.  Equally, you may notice rapid stages of overall growth where your child gains 3 in (5.08 cm) and gains weight over the course of a couple of months,  before growth slows down for a while.

Your toddler’s growth is considered within the average growth range as long as they gain roughly 4-5 lb (1.8-2.3 kg) a year and 2-3 in (5.08-7.62 cm). It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your toddler’s height, weight and head circumference. Use a growth chart to plot the measurements every six months to see if they are within the average range. Your pediatrician can also help you understand if your child is growing at an average pace. Keeping track with a personal growth chart also helps medical professionals to see how your child is growing.

How Long Do Toddler Growth Spurts Last?

Growth spurts are short and sweet in young babies, lasting just a day or two. In older babies and toddlers, they may last longer, sometimes up to a week or more. You may find it hard to tell the difference between the phases of a growth spurt.

Understanding the toddler growth spurt symptoms will help you identify if your child is going through a growth spurt.

Is your child suddenly crashing into things and falling over more than usual? Sudden changes in limb length and height in a growth spurt can change your toddler's center of gravity to shift. Clumsiness is a key sign of your toddler's growth. An increase in appetite is also another symptom of a toddler growth spurt and crankiness secondary to growing aches and pains.

Once your child leaves the child years, their height and weight will continue to increase. On average, a school-aged child (age 4-10) grows about 2 in (5.08 cm) and gains about 6 lb (2.7 kg) per year.  You may have also heard of the term constitutional growth delay, this refers to kids who are small for their age, but growing within the normal rate. Often these kids are referred to as 'late bloomers'.

Toddlers Growth Spurts And Sleep

It's normal for your child's sleep pattern to be disrupted during a growth spurt.

Your little one will want to sleep more throughout a growth spurt. In sum, their sleeping routine may be entirely out of whack during this period. You may also experience toddler growth spurts and night waking.

They may be sleeping at irregular times and for varying amounts of time. The reason for this is because a great deal of growth occurs while your child is sleeping. The pituitary gland is assigned to produce the human growth hormone. As your toddler's body is experiencing so many changes, their brains will signal them to sleep whenever it’s the time to grow. So, if your little one decides to sleep on top of their cereal and run around at 1 a.m., don’t worry this is a very normal experience for parents!

Foods For Toddler Growth Spurts

Hunger and new growth spurts go hand in hand for kids, as well as changes in food patterns. You may notice your regular picky eater wanting to inhale everything in sight or wanting to eat just one or two things over and over. This is entirely normal; as your child’s body undergoes huge physical changes, they may be craving specific foods.

Try your best to provide a balanced diet and avoid sugary drinks

There’s also a shift in your child’s cognitive development during a growth spurt which is a good time to introduce new healthy snacks. Research points to the importance of introducing healthy fats into your toddler’s diet, as well as iron, antioxidants and omega 3s. Avocado, fruit smoothies, bananas, and oatmeal with flax seeds make a great option instead of the usual cheese and crackers.

It’s a good idea to do your best to provide a balanced nutritional diet for your toddler and stock up on plenty of healthy snacks. This involves plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy foods like yoghurts, milk and cheese, wholegrain cereals, protein and oily fish. Try your best to limit fatty foods, things like processed ready meals and excessive sugary food and drink for your kids. If you need more advice in this area, do speak to a professional nutritionist, or your family doctor for advice.

In fact, during a growth spurt, many parents wonder if they have to create a special diet for their kids. You do not need to do any particular for your child outside of your normal nutritious diet and try not to emphasize it. For example, you do not need to overfeed a child because they experience a growth spurt or give them a special diet. Most growth spurts last just a couple of days.

Remember that these ages for your child's growth spurts and suggestions are all general guidelines for parents. Your toddler may grow a little more or a little less than this each year. If you are concerned that your child is not gaining enough weight or height or any aspect of their development, be sure to talk to your pediatrician. A malnourished toddler may follow a different growth path.

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at why a 20-month-old might not be talking or our guide to planning a two years old birthday party?

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