How Can I Help My Child Grow Taller? And Other Growth Questions Answered
Even if it’s unlikely that your child will be tall enough to become a professional basketball player, every parent wants their kid to grow to a healthy and optimal height. And for good reason: your child’s height can affect their self esteem, suggests Alexandra Williams, M.A..
Williams explains, “While being taller in and of itself may not be a goal for everyone, it’s certainly a byproduct of healthy nutrition, which is a life-enhancing objective worth pursuing.” What’s more, Williams shares research that finds: “taller people have longer life spans, greater educational success, higher incomes, and a lower incidence of heart disease and stroke.”
If you’re concerned about your child’s height and growth, we have a few answers that may put your mind at ease and help you take action.
How Can I Help My Child Grow Taller?
There are many factors that can affect how tall your child is, from nutrition to to hormones. To know how you can help your child grow taller, you simply need to understand what factors affect their height.
Genes: There is nothing you can do about this one. If your child’s parents are shorter in stature, your child may also follow suit. Genetics account for 80 percent of their height, according to the National Institute of Health, while environmental factors account for 20 percent. This means that your height as parents is an important predictor of determining how tall your child will be.
Nutrition: Mitchell E. Geffner, M.D. says a proper balance of major macronutrients (I.E., protein, carbohydrate, fat, calcium, and magnesium) and micronutrients (I.E., vitamin A and iodine) is needed for proper growth. To make sure your child is getting the best nutritional intake, refer to the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines.
Health Conditions: There are a variety of health conditions that can affect your child’s height, including: constitutional growth delay, digestive disorders, kidney disease, growth hormone deficiency, and diabetes, among others. If any of these issues are present, consult with your pediatrician.
Environmental: Outside factors, including severe and consistent stress is another factor that can lead to height challenges as well. A behavioral therapist may be able to help your child overcome challenges that are leading to picky eating, which could be affecting your child’s health.
How Tall Will My Child Be?
While 20 percent of your child’s height is affected by environmental factors, including what he or she eats, while genes account for the other 80 percent. As such, this is a good predictor if you’re wondering how tall your child will be.
That’s why, as Rady Children’s Specialists explain, “The first question to answer when evaluating a child for delayed growth is are they growing on a percentile curve that is appropriate or expected for their family. In general we expect short parents have short children and tall parents have tall parents.”
If you want to get an idea based on your child's current height percentile and CDC data, you can use this simple child height predictor. This can easily be done at home.
What do I need to know about height and weight percentile?
Height and weight are used together to determine your child’s growth percentile. The percentiles you’ll find on the charts offered by the CDC (boys and girls) are based on a scale of 100. If your child’s height falls in the 70th percentile, this means he or she is taller than 70 percent of children and shorter than another 30 percent children of the same age.
Your pediatrician will keep track of this during your child’s regular exams (get the recommended schedule from HealthyChildren.org), but you can track it at home as well with Healthy Height’s Child Growth Percentile Calculator.
What is growth hormone deficiency?
Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a rare disorder that can occur in children when there’s not enough growth hormone secreted from the anterior pituitary gland, According to the National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD). NORD suggests that there are three main causes of GHD in children
- Present at birth. This is the result of genetic mutations or structural defects in the brain. This is referred to as congenital.
- Present later in life, as the result of a number of factors, including severe trauma, infection, brain tumor or radiation therapy. This is referred to as acquired.
- No diagnosable cause, referred to as idiopathic.
You may notice is something wrong if you see growth retardation, notice your child’s a shorter stature than their classmates, or the pediatrician notices maturation delays, which is seen in the lengthening of bones in the extremities inappropriate to the age of the child, suggests NORD.
This is one reason why you should immediately consult your pediatrician height is a concern, potentially indicating a range of issues, including GHD. Still, short stature is not an immediate cause for concern. Learn about the many other potential causes for slow growth in our blog post, What Are the Causes of Short Stature?