Growth spurts are phases of rapid growth and development that occur in children. It mainly occurs in the first year of infancy then toddlerhood but again it gives a visit in adolescence. It results in more height growth and weight gain than any other time of childhood.
Growth Spurts in Children
Growth spurts are particularly important during some key stages of a child's life. These stages are marked by rapid and significant increases in height and physical development. The most prominent growth spurts typically occur during:
- During the first year(Infancy): Growth spurts happen several times during a baby's first year of life. During the early months, growth spurts are common for newborns around 1 to 3 weeks old and at 6 to 8 weeks. Then growth spurts usually space out to every few months, occurring around 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months
- Around 12 Months: When you thought your child's growth was stabilizing, you might notice an increase in their appetite, sleep disturbances, and changes in behaviour around their first birthday. This is often linked to the brain's rapid development during this period.
- Around 18-24 Months: When your toddler enters into a more active phase of exploration and play, you might notice another growth spurt. This can come with increased hunger, a need for more sleep, and even a temporary regression in skills they previously mastered.
- Adolescence: After the infant growth spurt, A major growth spurt happens at the time of puberty, usually between 8 to 13 years of age in girls and 10 to 15 years in boys. This growth spurt can last for several years and is responsible for the significant increase in height, body weight, and muscle mass observed during the teenage years.
- Late Adolescence: While the most rapid growth usually occurs during the early and mid-adolescent years, some individuals experience a second, but minor growth spurt during late adolescence. This often takes place around ages 17 to 19 for boys and 15 to 17 for girls. It's a continuation of the growth process as the body continues to mature.
“If your baby reaches one milestone sooner, she may reach another one later, because she’s so busy perfecting the other skill,” says Jennifer Shu, MD, paediatrician.
These growth spurts are important because these are the periods of physical development and maturation. During these phases, hormonal changes and genetic factors interact to stimulate the body's growth plates, leading to the elongation of bones and an increase in height. So extra nutrition and sleep are required during these phases for healthy growth.
How Can Parents Support Their Children During Their Growth Spurt?
- Babies under one year tend to express their growth spurt through fussiness and periods of increased hunger. Provide additional meals to satisfy their appetite.
- For school-age children and adolescents, growth spurts trigger changes in appetite, sleep and behaviour, along with physical height and weight changes, you can support them by encouraging regular bedtimes and positive sleeping habits.
- Being patient with their changing emotions and extra fussiness.
It's worth noting that growth spurts can vary significantly from person to person due to genetics, environmental factors, and overall health. While they are most prominent during infancy, adolescence, and late adolescence, growth is a continuous process that occurs throughout life, though at a slower rate in adulthood.
Recommended reading: Understanding the Growth Spurts of Your 1-Year-Old
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