During the third year of life, most toddlers gain about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and grow about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 centimeters).
They're extremely active and mobile, and learning in very physical ways. They're running around and exploring their world, and picking up new skills, like kicking a ball and riding a tricycle.
Your toddler's appetite may fluctuate greatly now, which is common. It is also common for some toddlers to get stuck on one food. Food "jags" usually don't last long if you don't accommodate them. To build a foundation of healthy eating habits, keep serving a variety of nutritious foods and allow your child to decide what and how much to eat from the healthy foods you offer.
Although kids come in all shapes and sizes, a healthy child should continue to grow at a regular pace. The doctor will measure and weigh your child at routine checkups and plot the results on a growth chart. This allow the doctor to track your child's growth over time and spot trends that need attention.
Normal growth — supported by good nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise — is one of the best overall indicators of a child's good health. But your child's growth pattern is largely determined by genetics. Pushing kids to eat extra food or greater than recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients will not increase their height.
Malnutrition severe enough to affect growth rate is uncommon today in the United States and other developed countries unless a child has an associated chronic illness or disorder.
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 his or her peers or weighs more, the more important question is whether your child is continuing to grow at a normal rate. If, for instance, your child's growth rate had been normal but has recently slowed, the doctor may track your child's measurements over a few months to see whether this is a possible health problem or just a variation of normal.
Most kids who are growing at or below the 5th percentile line on the growth chart are usually following one of these two normal variant growth patterns:
If your child is growing too slowly, your doctor might order tests to determine whether this is related to a medical or genetic condition that would interfere with growth.
Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your child's growth or development with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011
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