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What is a growth spurt?

Children go through several growth spurts until they are a full-grown adult. These are periods of sudden growth, development and body changes (for example, teething and hair growth), and they are perfectly normal. The first major growth spurt a child goes through after birth lasts about a year. During your child's first year, she may seem to gain weight and grow almost every day. In fact, the average infant grows 10 inches and triples in weight during their first year. Then, they slow down a little. But you'll still notice ongoing changes and other growth spurts as they become toddlers and move through early childhood. Another major growth spurt occurs from age 8 to 13 in girls and age 10 to 15 in boys. This is puberty, when your child's body will change and grow rapidly due to hormones and sexual development. Most boys will move through puberty and reach their full height by the time they are 16 or 17. Most girls reach their full height and move through puberty by age 15.

A growth spurt is a rapid increase in weight and length (height) over a short period of time. Your child's appetite will increase during this period, as will his need for sleep. Some children also have increased irritability. The largest growth spurts occur during a child’s first year of life and then again during puberty. Generally, each individual growth spurt will last a few days up to a week, although we sometimes refer to a teen’s total growth spurt as lasting a year or more. Toddlers and school-age children do continue to gain weight and height every year, generally at a slower steadier pace. However, they, too, may have brief periods of rapid growth.

This answer was created with the help of physicians at South Riding Pediatrics (www.SouthRidingPediatrics.com) and www.HealthyChildren.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.