What Helps Kids Grow: Expert Interview and Resources
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.
An Interview With Dr. Geffner
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.
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
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.
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.
Age-appropriate caloric intake, healthy sources of calories, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep are the common-sense keys to normal growth.
Sometimes, your child just needs the foods that are already in your kitchen to grow tall and healthy. Forget about kale and the latest fad foods, and focus on these everyday items.
Failure to Thrive affects 5 to 10 percent of children, according to American Family Physician. Learn about this condition to ensure your child is growing properly.
You know your child shouldn’t have soda, but what should she or he have instead? Get some ideas for helping your kid grow with healthy drinks.
The right balance of nutrients is critical for your child’s growth, as Dr. Geffner explains. Determining if your child is nutrient deficient can help you start moving in the right direction for optimal growth.
From eating whey-based protein shakes to allowing unstructured play time, there’s a lot you can do as a parent to help your child grow.
Bonus: Growth Calculator
When you know what helps your child grow, make the necessary changes and then use this growth calculator to track their growth at home.