What Helps Kids Grow: Expert Interview and Resources

Boys with lunch going to school

Your child’s growth may feel like a mystery to you—A healthy diet? Genetics? Exercise? We spoke with Dr. Mitchell Geffner, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), to find out what helps kids grow and then gathered some helpful resources so you can continue learning and tracking your child’s growth.

More: What You Need to Know About Average Height and Your Child

An Interview With Dr. Geffner

How do children grow?

Children grow as a result of proper nutrition, normal production and response to key hormones, including growth hormone and thyroid hormones. Growth is amplified during the pubertal growth spurt as a result of sex steroids. These mechanisms can be overridden in the setting of chronic disease.

Learn more about reasons for growth challenges: Types of Growth Disorders in Children

How often should parents of a growing child check in with a health provider about their child’s weight and height gain?

The frequency of visits to the provider to monitor a child’s growth varies with age, with more frequent assessments during the early years of life.

What is the importance of nutrition for child growth?

Without proper nutrition that provides the necessary substrate utilized by growth promoting hormones, normal growth will not occur. Nutrition consists of age-appropriate caloric intake as well as the proper balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, along with vitamins (e.g., vitamin D) and minerals (e.g., calcium).

Get dietary recommendations for children: American Heart Association

What is the most important nutrient to focus on that might support a child’s growth?

The proper balance of major macronutrients (e.g., protein, carbohydrate, fat, calcium, and magnesium) and micronutrients (e.g., vitamin A and iodine) is critical for normal growth.

Does stretching or exercise help kids grow taller?

Exercise is clearly important for current and future health, but, without proper nutrition and hormone levels, alone will not be able to sustain normal growth. Stretching per se helps the body be limber, but does not, by itself, promote growth.

How would you sum up your tips to help kids grow?

Age-appropriate caloric intake, healthy sources of calories, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep are the common-sense keys to normal growth.

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