A child's growth and development can be divided into four periods:
- Preschool years
- Middle childhood years
Soon after birth, an infant normally loses about 5% to 10% of their birth weight. By about age 2 weeks, an infant should start to gain weight and grow quickly.
By age 4 to 6 months, an infant's weight should be double their birth weight. During the second half of the first year of life, growth is not as rapid. Between ages 1 and 2, a toddler will gain only about 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms). Weight gain will remain at about 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms) per year between ages 2 to 5.
Between ages 2 to 10 years, a child will grow at a steady pace. A final growth spurt begins at the start of puberty, sometime between ages 9 to 15.
The child's nutrient needs correspond with these changes in growth rates. An infant needs more calories in relation to size than a preschooler or school-age child needs. Nutrient needs increase again as a child gets close to adolescence.
A healthy child will follow an individual growth curve. However, the nutrient intake may be different for each child. Provide a diet with a wide variety of foods that is suited to the child's age.
Healthy eating habits should begin during infancy. This can help prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and obesity.
Inquiry - Children's Growth