Kids at this age are still very physical, but they learn in a
more focused and less hectic way than when they were younger. These
kids typically gain about 4 pounds (1.81 kilograms) and grow about
2 inches (5.08 centimeters) per year.
They're still developing and refining their gross motor
skills, using their arms and legs to get around and to get what
they want, as well as their fine motor skills, using their fingers,
hands, and wrists for small movements, like picking up objects. By
age 4, kids can usually hop and eventually move on to skipping.
Play becomes increasingly imaginative and is an important part
of kids' growth and development now. So it's important to
make sure they have time for creative play - whether that
means drawing pictures, running around in the backyard, or playing
Although kids come in all shapes and sizes, a healthy child
should continue to grow at a regular pace. To monitor development,
the doctor will weigh and measure your child at regular checkups,
then plot the results on a standard
to follow over time and compare with other kids the same age and
Helping Your Child Grow
Normal growth - aided by good nutrition, adequate sleep, and
regular exercise - is one of the best overall indicators of a
child's good health. But your child's growth pattern is
largely determined by genetics. Pushing a child with "short
genes" to eat extra food or greater than recommended amounts
of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients will not make him or her
Preschoolers should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity
each day. Kids at this age are naturally active, so it's up to
you to encourage that activity and provide a safe environment for
exploration. One way to do this is to limit screen time. The
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids older
than 2 spend no more than 2 hours each day watching TV, playing
video games, or playing on the computer.
At the Doctor's Office
Despite data collected for growth charts, "normal"
heights and weights are difficult to define. Shorter parents, for
instance, tend to have shorter kids, whereas taller parents tend to
have taller kids.
Although you may worry if your child isn't as tall as his or
her peers, the more important question is whether your child is
continuing to grow at a normal rate. If your doctor suspects a
problem - such as a growth rate that had been normal but has
recently slowed - he or she may track your child's measurements
carefully over several months to determine whether the growth
pattern suggests a possible health problem or is just a variation
You may be concerned that your child is too small or too heavy.
Kids who seem heavier than other kids the same age, gender, and
height may be getting too many calories or not enough activity.
Most kids who are very short - at or below the 5th percentile on
the growth chart - are usually following one of two normal variant
- The first is familial (genetic) short stature, in which kids
have inherited genes for short stature but will grow at a normal
rate, enter puberty at an average age, and reach a final adult
height similar to that of their parents.
- The second is constitutional growth delay, in which kids grow
at a normal rate but are smaller than their peers, enter puberty
later, and continue growing after their peers have stopped, thus
usually reaching a normal adult height.
However, medical conditions like hypothyroidism also can affect
a child's growth, so talk with your doctor if you have a
Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2008
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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