Toddler growth slows but should remain consistent.

The Ideal Weight & Height for Toddlers

by Sharon Perkins

Your toddler's ideal height and weight will differ from that of the neighbor next door, even if the two children share the same birth date. Every child has his own rate of growth, influenced by heredity as well as environmental factors, such as what you put on his dinner plate. The most important thing to remember about your toddler's growth is that it should be consistent and steady. His height and weight should also fall within the same general percentage on the growth charts.

1. Ideal Height

Most toddlers will grow only as tall as their genetic influences will let them. Height is an inherited characteristic; while it can happen, most children don't grow a whole lot taller than their parents. But, as with weight, most toddler's height continues to increase at a pace consistent to their growth in infancy. Most toddlers grow between 4 to 6 inches in their second year and 3 to 4 inches between ages 2 and 3, the Family Practice Notebook reports. The average toddler measures between 33 to 37 inches, according to the FP Notebook.

2. Ideal Weight

Weight is a more variable statistic than height, because, while heredity may well play a part, what your toddler eats has a large influence on his weight. Forcing food when your toddler isn't hungry or offering only high-calorie foods can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Toddlers often become picky eaters, which might lead to a small slide backwards on the weight chart, but the change shouldn't be dramatic. Toddler weight gain slows to around 5 pounds per year, according to Medline Plus.

3. Keeping Things Balanced

A child who falls into the 50th percentile on both height and weight charts is as average as he can possibly be. But that doesn't mean there's something wrong if your toddler falls into the 75th percentile in height and the 25th percentile for weight. Some children are born to be tall and thin; others will always be somewhat stocky. If your toddler's height and weight don't match on the percentile chart, but still fall within normal limits, your doctor may call it a discrepant percentile. This is a normal growth variant, pediatrician Dr. Ren Chats explains on her website, Child Health Explanation.

4. Changes

What your doctor will watch for on your toddler's growth chart is a sudden change. These changes, either up or down, however, can be a factor of catch-up or catch-down growth: changes that occur as an adjustment to high or low birth weight and growth in infancy, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society. Between 2 to 10 percent of children between the ages of 24 and 60 months crossed two percentile lines in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reported in the June 2004 issue of "Pediatrics." Between 6 and 15 percent of children crossed two percentile between the ages of 24 and 60 months, a much higher percentage than change height percentiles.

About the Author

A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.

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