As kids grow from grade-schoolers to preteens, there continues to be a wide range of "normal" regarding height, weight, and shape.
Kids tend to get taller at a pretty steady pace, growing about 2.5 inches (6 to 7 centimeters) each year. When it comes to weight, kids gain about 4 to 7 lbs. (2 to 3 kg) per year until puberty starts.
This is also a time when kids start to have feelings about how they look and how they're growing. Some girls may worry about being "too big," especially those who are developing early. Boys tend to be sensitive about being too short.
Try to help your child understand that the important thing is not to "look" a certain way, but rather to be healthy. Kids can't change the genes that will determine how tall they will be or when puberty starts. But they can make the most of their potential by developing healthy eating habits and being physically active.
Your doctor will take measurements at regular checkups, then plot your child's results on a standard growth chart to follow over time and compare with other kids the same age and gender.
Helping Your Child Grow
Normal growth — supported by good nutrition, enough sleep, and regular exercise — is one of the best overall indicators of a child's good health.
Your child's growth pattern is largely determined by genetics. Pushing a child to eat extra food or greater than recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients will not increase his or her height and may lead to weight problems.
By accepting who your child is, you also help your child build self-acceptance.
Puberty — or sexual maturation — is a time of dramatic change for both boys and girls. The age at which the physical changes of puberty normally begin varies widely.
For both sexes, these hormone-driven changes are accompanied by growth spurts that transform children into physically mature teens as their bodies develop.
Breast development, usually the first noticeable sign of puberty in girls, may begin anytime between ages 8 and 13. These characteristics describe the sequence of events in girls as they move through puberty:
- Breasts begin to develop and hips become rounded.
- The increase in the rate of growth in height begins.
- Pubic hair begins to appear, usually 6 to 12 months after the start of breast development. About 15% of girls will develop pubic hair before breast development starts.
- The uterus and vagina, as well as labia and clitoris, increase in size.
- Pubic hair is well established and breasts grow further.
- The rate of growth in height reaches its peak by about 2 years after puberty began (average age is 12 years).
- Menstruation begins, almost always after the peak growth rate in height has been reached (average age is 12.5 years).
Once girls start to menstruate, they usually grow about 1 or 2 more inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters), reaching their final adult height by about age 14 or 15 years (younger or older depending on when puberty began).
Most boys show the first physical changes of puberty between ages 10 and 16, and tend to grow most quickly between ages 12 and 15. The growth spurt of boys is, on average, about 2 years later than that of girls. By age 16, most boys have stopped growing, but their muscles will continue to develop.
Other features of puberty in boys include:
- The penis and testicles increase in size.
- Pubic hair appears, followed by underarm and facial hair.
- The voice deepens and may sometimes crack or break.
- The Adam's apple, or larynx cartilage, gets bigger.
- Testicles begin to produce sperm.
At the Doctor's Office
Despite data collected for growth charts, "normal" heights and weights are difficult to define. Shorter parents, for instance, tend to have shorter kids, whereas taller parents tend to have taller kids.
Although you may worry if your child isn't as tall as other kids that age, the more important question is whether your child is continuing to grow at a normal rate. If your doctor finds a problem — such as a growth rate that had been normal but has recently slowed — he or she may track your child's measurements carefully over several months to see if the growth pattern suggests a possible health problem or is just a variation of normal.
If it's found that your child is growing or developing too slowly, the doctor may order tests to check for medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, growth hormone deficiency, or other things that can affect growth.
If you have any concerns about your child's growth or development, talk with your doctor.Back to Articles
Changes become more dramatic and complex with the onset of puberty, and kids are likely to have lots of questions. These articles can help you become a trusted source of information, comfort, and support for your kids.Read More
I'm Growing Up - But Am I Normal?
When you're growing up, lots of changes happen and everyone wonders: Am I normal?Read More
Boys and Puberty
On the way to becoming a man, a boy's body will go through a lot of changes, including your body growing bigger, your voice changing, and hair sprouting everywhere. Find out more.Read More
Feeling Too Tall or Too Short
How do you like your height? Check out this article if you feel too tall or too short.Read More
Puberty was awkward enough when you were the one going through it. So how can you help your kids through all the changes?Read More
Your Child's Weight
"What's the right weight for my child?" is one of the most common questions parents have. It seems like a simple one, but it's not always easy to answer.Read More
You need self-esteem, but it doesn't always come naturally. Find out what it means to feel good about yourself.Read More
All About Puberty
Voice cracking? Clothes don't fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn't have to be. Read all about it in this article for kids.Read More
Male Reproductive System
Understanding the male reproductive system, what it does, and problems that can affect it can help you better understand your son's reproductive health.Read More
Your Child's Growth
From the moment parents greet their newborn, they watch the baby's progress eagerly. But how can they tell if their child is growing properly?Read More
Female Reproductive System
Learning about the female reproductive system, what it does, and the problems that can affect it can help you better understand your daughter's reproductive health.Read More
Breasts and Bras
Girls grow breasts as they develop and mature. And once a girl has breasts, she probably will want to wear a bra. Find out more in this article just for kids.Read More
Precocious puberty - the onset of signs of puberty before age 7 or 8 in girls and age 9 for boys - can be physically and emotionally difficult for children and can sometimes be the sign of an underlying health problem.Read More
Talking to Your Child About Puberty
Talking to kids about puberty is an important job for parents, especially because kids often hear about sex and relationships from unreliable sources. Here are some tips.Read More
Talking to Your Daughter About Puberty
Help your daughter prepare for the changes that puberty will bring before she takes her first steps toward adulthood.Read More
Understanding Early Sexual Development
Young kids develop an emotional and physical foundation for sexuality in many subtle ways as they grow. By understanding how your kids grow and learn, you can play an important role in fostering their emotional and physical health.Read More
Five Things Girls Want to Know About Periods
Girls have lots of questions about periods. Here are five good ones - and the all-important answers!Read More
Girls and Puberty
Girls have lots of questions about puberty and growing up. Find all the answers here!Read More
What's an Adam's Apple?
Where's your Adam's apple? Do you even have one? Find out in this article for kids.Read More
Your Changing Voice
Both boys and girls experience voice changes as they grow older, but it's the boys that will notice the biggest difference. Find out more in this article for kids.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 12 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your child is 12.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 7 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve and what your child might be doing by the seventh year.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 10 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve and what your child might be doing by age 10.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 11 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve when your child is 11.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 8 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve and what your child might be doing by the eighth year.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 9 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve and what your child might be doing by the ninth year.Read More
Your Child's Checkup: 6 Years
Find out what this doctor's visit will involve and what your child might be doing by the sixth year.Read More