Does anyone else seem to have a toddler who eats like a bottomless pit? No? Just mine?
Well, alright then.
If you are dealing with a toddler that can’t get enough food and seems to be hungry all the time, you may be wondering if your little one is normal. Let’s take a look at the stages of toddler growth spurts — and find out what might be driving all those requests for snacks.
According to a 2017 study in
- Phase 1. Rapidly decelerating infant growth that lasts until about the age of three
- Phase 2. Childhood phase with steady height increase
- Phase 3. Adolescent growth spurt until adult height is reached
What exactly does all that mean? Well, it means that your toddler is in a constant stage of growth until about the age of three. However, that growth — which happens extremely fast in the baby stage — will slow down a bit in toddlerhood.
You can picture the growth like an upside-down triangle, with a huge amount of fast growth happening in infancy, then slightly slowing down until the age of three.
The baby stage
Babies are notorious for growing, and there is a tremendous amount of physical growth that happens, especially in the first year of life. By the time your baby is 4 to 6 months old, they will have doubled their birth weight.
Imagine if an adult did that in only a few months’ time? That’s a lot of growth! Babies continue growing at a rapid rate during the rest of first year, although not as much as in the early months.
The toddler stage
After those first 12 months, growth slows even more. Typically, a toddler will only put on about five pounds between turning one and two.
After they reach the age of two, the same growth rate continues, and they will only put up on about 5 pounds each year until they reach the age of five.
Height also increases as the toddler legs grow and to fit the rest of the body. Think of it as your toddler’s body kind of “catching up” to all that growth from the first year.
Toddlers are also a lot more active, so they expend a lot more energy. You will likely notice that your baby starts to lose the “baby” look as the stores of that adorable fat are dispersed and disappear.
However, the entire first 3 years of life, all the way through toddlerhood, are considered to be a period of active growth, so keep that in mind as you watch your little one develop.
How your toddler is growing is an important marker of their health and development. Your child’s pediatrician or care provider will measure their height and weight at every check-up and plot their findings on a growth chart.
The growth chart shows your child’s measurements in comparison to other children of the same age and growth patterns.
The most important thing to remember about your toddler’s growth is that even though your little one’s growth will be measured out on a growth chart, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all growth pattern.
Instead of focusing on what your toddler’s growth is compared to other children, the only thing you and your pediatrician should be concerned with is how your toddler is growing relative to their own growth scale.
Every child’s personal growth chart will be different, and your doctor will assess if your toddler’s growth is on track for based on their own numbers. There are also
If you want some concrete numbers to look at, the CDC’s
But keep in mind: All of the numbers on a growth chart are simply averages and will not be “normal” for every single toddler. What’s most important is that your toddler is growing appropriately based on their own individual growth pattern.
What about delayed growth? Some kids will actually slow in growth when they reach the toddler age. These kids will have grown normally as babies but will slow down around the age of 2 years for one of two main reasons.
Sorry, toddler. If your parents (or just one of them) are short in height, you may wind up short, too. It’s just nature’s way — but there’s no medical concerns with being short.
Constitutional growth delay
Also known as delayed puberty, children with constitutional growth delay will be normal-sized babies, but will slow down on growth between the ages of 6 months and 2 years.
Then after age 2, their growth will go back to normal. They will start puberty and have their big adolescent growth spurt later, too.
Part of all that growth is a distinct shift in your toddler’s food preferences. If you notice that your toddler only seems to want to eat the same food over and over again, don’t worry. Your toddler is just being, well, a toddler. And toddlers aren’t always known for their sophisticated palates.
It is normal for toddlers to get on some serious food “kicks” at this age. For my toddler, that food would be our family’s favorite chicken breakfast sausage. She can consume it in quantities that honestly frighten me at times.
To combat these kicks, be sure to present a variety of healthy foods at mealtimes, even when your toddler may lack enthusiasm for those offerings. They’ll get there eventually!
Consistency is key and the most important thing is that your little one stays fed with healthy foods that you both can feel good about.
As you navigate the toddler years, your child’s growth may slow down a bit. Keep in mind that some reasons for delayed growth are completely normal. That said, if you have any concerns about your toddler’s growth, you should always speak to a doctor for further evaluation.