Normal Growth Rates for Young Children

Question of the Week

A pediatrician measures a child's height.
Your child's height should be measured at each check up. Photo by BJI / Blue Jean Images

Question. 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?

Answer. 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.

Normal Growth of Children

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.

Normal Growth Rates for Boys and Girls

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

  • 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

In addition to monitoring your child for poor growth or failure to thrive, it is also important to make sure your child isn't gaining too much weight.

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

  • 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

You can also use your child's height to try and predict how tall they will be when they grow up.

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

  • 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

While head circumference isn't followed by parents as closely as a child's height and weight, it is important to make sure a child's head isn't too small (microcephaly) or too big (macrocephaly).

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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