How Long Does a Growth Spurt Last?

Growth Spurts: Will They Ever Stop?

Many moms have been there—cold weather arrives and your child goes to put on last year’s pants only to find they’re two inches too short. Most likely, your kid had a growth spurt or maybe even two. Growth spurts happen at various times throughout your kids’ lives. You’ll usually notice a growth spurt by a bigger appetite, more sleep and of course, clothes that no longer fit.

What is a Growth Spurt?

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Children are always growing and changing, but a growth spurt is when a little one’s height increases rapidly. These spurts are most noticeable when your child is a baby and again in his teen years. Some common signs of a growth spurt include an increased appetite, generally before and during the growth spurt, an increase in bone and muscle growth and more sleep for babies. In babies, growth spurts tend to last just a couple days, but can last much longer in teens.

Baby Growth Spurts

Babies grow rapidly during their first year of life, so you’ll see a number of growth spurts. Fortunately, although they happen often, growth spurts usually last only a few days. Generally, the spurts happen around these ages.

  • 2 weeks
  • 3 weeks
  • 6 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months

Infants grow about an inch a month for the first six months of life, then about half an inch until 12 months. They’ll grow another 5 inches from 12 to 24 months. At this point, your little one’s growth slows down, and he’s about half his adult size.

Sometimes, the only sign of a growth spurt is when you can't zip up last month's pajamas, but more often, the following changes indicate a likely growth spurt:

  • Increased appetite: Calories consumed go up 20 to 100 percent
  • Increased sleep: Due to the pituitary gland releasing growth hormone during sleep
  • Abnormal behavior: More clingy, restless and more prone to crying

These growth amounts are averages and can vary from baby to baby. Your pediatrician keeps track of your little one’s growth at well-child visits and will let you know about any concerns.

Toddler Growth Spurts

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You won’t have to switch out clothes quite as often as your little one gets into her toddler years. From 2 to 3 years old, kids generally grow 2 to 3 inches. Growth spurts with a major increase in appetite won’t be as noticeable; it’s more of a slow and steady growth at this age. Make sure your little one is eating well, getting plenty of sleep and getting regular exercise.

Good nutrition can be tricky with toddlers as they often get stuck on certain foods or turn their noses at others. Stick with a healthy diet, and these eating preferences should pass.

Preschool Growth Spurts

Just as with the toddler years, growth spurts won’t be as obvious in your preschooler as when he was a baby. From 3 to 4 years old, your little one will grow around 3 1/2 inches. His growth will slow down even more from 4 to 5 years old when he’ll grow around 2 1/2 inches.

At this age, your preschooler may grow in height more quickly than he puts on weight. Don’t be alarmed if he looks a little skinny; he’ll gradually fill out as his muscles grow. Kids at this age can also vary greatly in height, so don’t compare your little guy to his friends.

Teenager Growth Spurts

The teen years are when you’ll notice major growth spurts in your child again. This is also the time when growth in boys and girls varies more as their bodies begin developing.

Girls generally start having growth spurts between 10 and 14 years old, while boys start between 10 and 13 years old and continue to grow until age 16. In both cases, the growth spurts usually come right before or coincide with puberty.

In girls, their breasts begin to develop and their hips become more rounded before those teen growth spurts start. Around two years after the start of puberty, the rate of growth reaches its peak. Menstruation begins shortly after this peak. Girls usually grow another inch or two after they start their periods.

Boys grow most quickly between the ages of 12 and 15, which is generally about two years later than when girls hit their growth spurt. Boys generally stop growing at 16, although their muscles continue to develop.

It’s important with all these growth spurts and changes to encourage your teen to eat well and get an adequate amount of sleep. As her body changes, her sleep patterns shift. She may stay up later and want to sleep in, which can be a challenge with school. Cut off technology at a certain time each night to encourage your teen to head to bed earlier.

It’s also important to help your teen recognize that comparing her body to models in the media isn’t realistic. Instead, stress that a healthy diet and exercise are what’s most important.