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1/7/14 blog post

the secret to knowing how tall your child will be

By: Dr. Stacy Meyer

It seems like overnight, Sprout has outgrown all of his pants! Looking back at last year’s holiday picture to this year’s picture, he has definitely grown from a toddler to a child. His face and body has thinned and he has grown in height. As an endocrinologist, I may monitor my children’s growth a little more than the typical parent, but you would too if you spent a good part of your day discussing normal vs. abnormal growth patterns!

After the age of 2 years, children grow at a more steady and predictable pace. Busybee and children under 2 years, may grow slower or faster as they move toward their genetically determined height. This is because length at birth and growth over the first months to a year of life is more dependent on nutrition and intrauterine environment than true growth potential.

Wondering your child’s growth potential? Here is a good way to estimate this based on mom and dad’s adult height.

For Boys:

  • Add 5 inches to mom’s height and average this with dad’s
  • Ex: if mom is 5’4” you would add 5 inches to make 5’9” and then average with dad’s height of 5’11” and your little boy’s predicted genetic height is 5’10”

For girls:

  • Subtract 5 inches from dad and average with mom’s height.
  • Ex: In the above scenario you would average 5’4” with 5’5” which is dad’s height minus 5 inches to get 5’4.5”

Now these are of course only estimates and there can be up to 4 inches variability up or down but most children without any other extenuating circumstances will end up within 2 inches of this prediction.

So now that you know your child’s growth potential, how do you monitor if they are on track to reach this. The easiest way to monitor your child is by plotting and reviewing them on a standard growth curve. This tells you your child’s growth over time. Under the age of 2 years, children may move on the growth chart as they fall or climb toward their genetic potential, but after the age of 2 years, children should track yearly on the same growth curve percentile. This is something your doctor can show you at each yearly check up to help monitor. Of course, many things can alter that tracking especially timing of puberty, so it’s important to discuss any deviations with your doctor to determine if the cause for a change in percentiles is a problem or just a normal variation. Your doctor may recommend evaluating further with blood testing or an x-ray of the hand to look at the age of the bones.

If you don’t have access to your child’s growth curve but have been measuring diligently at home, here are some guidelines for typical growth in childhood.

  • From 0-1 year of life: typical growth is 10 inches
  • From 1-2 years of life: typical growth is 4 inches
  • From 2-4 years of life: typical growth per year is 3 inches
  • Above 4 years until puberty: typical growth is 2 inches per year.

From one mom (who is an endocrinologist) to another, growth is something you can and should be monitoring in your child. Time for growth is limited and can be the first indication in children of an underlying health concern. If concerns arise regarding growth discuss this with your doctor sooner rather than later as the best outcomes occur when issues are discovered early!

Dr. Meyer is a pediatric endocrinologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She is the mother of two boys who she lovingly refers to as “Busy Bee” and “Sprout!” As part of the “Dr. Mom Squad,” Dr. Meyer blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Meyer!