Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

How children grow – growth phases, growth spurts, growth delays

All parents know it: With children, buying clothes becomes a constant companion. Especially in the first months of life, the dress size changes every 4 weeks or even faster. Growth is individual. While some shoot up, others are more moderate and gradual.

Children grow from birth until about the age of 18. In the first years they double their body size, later it goes on continuously, if a bit slower. The growth is accompanied by relapses, some children also suffer from growth pains that are annoying but not dangerous. In rare cases, there may be real growth delays.

The three most important stages of growth in children

Children go from birth to the end of growth at about 16 to 18 years, three major stages. Although these are basically the same for all children, they can be individually different in terms of timing and speed.

Growth Phase 1

In the first three years of life, the growth of a child is enormous, the body size increases by almost 100% compared to birth size.

Growth phase 2

Children continue to grow up to the age of about 12 years. Although not as fast as in the first phase, but still at least 5 to 6 cm per year.


Phase 3 This phase ranges from the beginning of puberty to the end of the growth phase. For girls, this is valid at the age of 17, for boys at the age of 19 as largely completed. 7 to 9 cm per year, the offspring can shoot at this time in the height.

All growth phases are not only related to body size but also to mental and physical development . In the first phase, children learn basic motor skills and develop the brain and language. In the second phase, they lose their “baby face”, become more independent and train their intellect. In the third growth phase, the physical and mental transition from child to adult gradually takes place.

Growth spurts of children

Within each growth phase, there are always real relapses. Overnight, the child seems to be 5 cm taller. Especially in children in the first 14 months of life, there are regular periods of reflux, a total of about 8 in number. Further relapses are also possible during puberty. There the children may only grow a few centimeters for a year and suddenly start to grow by 10 cm in just a few months.

Concomitant growth pains

Especially when your child is experiencing a growth spurt, some children also experience growing pains . Pre-primary and primary schooling is common, but infants and children may also be affected during puberty. The causes of the pulling pain in the extremities, which occur mainly in the evening and at night, are still not fully understood. Even a reliable therapy is currently not available. Depending on the nature and severity of the pain, massages, cold or warm compresses, the administration of magnesium, distraction or, in the worst case, a light painkiller can relieve the symptoms. The following symptoms indicate growing pains:

First appearance mostly in preschool or primary school age

Complaints occur mainly in the evening and at night

Mainly the muscles of the legs hurt, sometimes the arms, but not the joints

In the morning the pain has disappeared

The pain occurs more in rest than in movement

The pain is irregular

Attention: growing pains are diagnosed after the exclusion procedure. If your child frequently and severely suffers from these symptoms, a visit to the pediatrician or specialist is advisable. This clarifies whether perhaps other diseases are the cause.

When does one speak of a growth delay?

how children grow The so-called “percentile curve” determines which growth is “normal” for a child. The curve is a result of medical statistics and is determined from many comparative values. If a child deviates from this curve over a defined amount, this is called a growth delay. Prenatal factors such as mother’s alcohol or nicotine consumption, metabolic disorders, chronic diseases, lack of growth hormone, but also deficiency or malnutrition during pregnancy and after childbirth or psychosocial disorders may be the cause of a delay. Rarely is genetic dwarfism. If there is no physical cause for the delay, your child can simply be a late developer and simply pick up the missing centimeters later.

Attention: Deviations in individual measurements do not mean any growth delay . Only if your child remains significantly smaller over a longer period of time than indicated in the percentile curve, you should worry about and clarify possible causes by the doctor.

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