There's a period in every new parent's life when they start to notice major changes in their babies. These changes aren't merely physical ones, but in attitude as well. This is because, between the ages of 2 and 4, children go through a massive growth spurt. For all of the medical and lifestyle articles out there dealing with newborns and teenagers, there only seem to be about half as many on this period in a toddler's life. Therefore, it's useful to delve into all of the details surrounding this important time. This way, every new mom and dad can know exactly what to expect.
First of all, a child's pediatrician should be monitoring this growth spurt closely. They will do so via a growth chart, which should help a parent stay on top of everything. But parents need to be aware of some of the signs in order to determine when they should take their child to a doctor or not. As well as prepare themselves for life's strange changes.
The following are well-documented changes that toddlers experience during ages 2 to 4. These are the things that new moms and dads should expect to see as well as experience themselves. However, it's vital that every parent do their own research. Source other legitimate websites, books, and podcasts. Fill their brain with knowledge. Then maybe it won't seem so foreign and daunting. May this just be the start.
Without further ado, here are 20 things to expect from your toddler's growth spurt.
During a toddler's growth spurt, their bodies are doing a lot of work. This means that they will likely feel extra sleepy. This also means that they could be napping for a longer period of time, or even just sleeping in later in the morning. Their sleeping patterns, in general, may fluctuate strangely. This means that you could be dealing with some inconveniences as your child might fall asleep when they are expected to be awake.
You may want to allow your toddler those extra minutes in the morning whenever possible. This may help them feel more rested throughout the day.
Although this list contains instances that are considered "normal" for a toddler during their growth spurt, every child is different. Just because your kid isn't experiencing some of the things doctors say are "normal", doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong.
In fact, some kids will actually slow in growth when they reach this stage. These kids are usually the offspring of parents who are short.
Typically these children will grow normally as babies and then take a longer time to grow, as they are genetically predisposed to being of a shorter stature like their parents.
Some children also have constitutional growth delay (also known as delayed puberty). This means that their growth will slow between the ages of 6 months to two years and then pick back up later. Additionally, they will have a major growth spurt during puberty.
The physical change that a child goes through from newborn to toddler is quite noticeable. Aside from the increase in size, as well as the elongation of the body, a child's face alters as well. This can be a bit startling to new parents who have gotten used to the delicate smile of their newborn. However, it's normal and part of the growing process.
The proportions in a child's face shift. This includes their cheekbones, foreheads, as well as lips. Consequently, they don't look like babies anymore. Instead, they start taking on the characteristics of a little kid.
Parents need to not only expect this, but get used to it as well, as it will happen again during their preschool years, around eight-years-old, and then in puberty.
Another thing to expect around the time of your toddler's growth spurt is the fact that they're fussier. This is usually a sign that their growth spurt is about to take place, although it can continue throughout the course of the growth as well. This is why people call this stage, "the terrible twos".
As for what exactly your child will be fussy about, well, everything. That's the short answer. They will be crankier when it comes to sleeping, as well as food.
In fact, they may start to dislike foods that they seemed to enjoy before. However, this may just be momentary as their bodies are going through a lot. Think about how cranky you get when you feel overly tired or have a sore body.
The most obvious change, that a child will experience during their toddler growth spurt, is in size. The difference is one of the first things a parent will notice.
During this stage, you will notice that a child will typically add 2 and a half inches to their height every year until about the age of 10. Additionally, they will typically grow a set increment every year. If their lifestyle is healthy, and their genetics are working in their favor, it should increase steadily from there.
You will need to prepare your wallets, folks. This is because, without a single doubt, you will be spending a little bit more money on clothing during your toddler's growth spurt. But this is to be expected since a lot of their previous clothing is unlikely to still fit them. More sad news: some newly bought clothing may not get that much use. This is especially true if your toddler is one who grows at a rapid rate.
After all the money spent on clothing for a newborn, it may seem a bit frustrating to have to fork out more hard-earned cash during this stage. But that's just the name of the game. Try purchasing clothing that will accommodate this period in their lives. You may be thankful that you did.
We've already spoken about the likelihood of having to purchase new clothes for your toddler during their growth spurt. In fact, it's been suggested that a parent only buy clothes that are suitable for this time. This means, things with elastics. However, this is a hard thing to find when it comes to pant-legs. And pants, after all, are likely to be the thing that you buy the most of.
This is because a toddler's legs tend to grow before their torsos do. This is the reason why it seems like so many toddlers have such long legs. In reality, they don't, it's just in contrast to their torsos.
Behavioral changes are also to be expected during a toddler's growth spurt. We've already spoken about the likelihood of a child being crankier during this stage, but they are likely to be clingy as well. Or, at least, far clingier than they were previously.
There are a couple of reasons for this specific behavioral change. Firstly, they may be in more pain than usual as their bodies are expanding. This could cause them to want to be around their protector, AKA mom or dad.
Additionally, their hormones are out of whack. Although this cannot be an excuse for bad behavior, children don't yet have the abilities to control their emotions.
And when their bodies are doing strange things to them, they may need an unlikely outlet for their feelings. Such an outlet could be clinging to your leg in the grocery store.
In general, toddlers are clumsy. This is because they don't yet have the skills necessary to judge distances or depth. Their clumsiness is part of their learning process. For generations, parents have been aware of this in some form. This is why sippy-cups are used and not priceless glassware.
However, clumsiness can seem even more apparent during a toddler's growth spurt.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a toddler will become far more clumsy during their growth spurt due to rapid changes in their height and limb length.
These changes will cause their center of gravity to shift enormously, making them far more accident prone.
So, if you see this, please understand that it's normal in the developmental process. Additionally, be sure to keep delicate items away from them.
One of the first things to look out for during a toddler's growth spurt is whether or not they are aching. Although this may cause some parents to worry, it's absolutely natural. In fact, most toddlers will experience some sort of body aching during their two-year growth spurt. It could wake them up in the middle of the night, or simply bother them after a day of playing.
When you think about it, it makes complete sense.
Their bodies are literally expanding, of course there will be some discomfort for them during the process. However, this discomfort can be mitigated with a warm compress or by massaging them.
A sign that their discomfort is more than just normal body aches is if the area is red, swollen, or if a child has a fever or rash. If any of this occurs, go see a pediatrician.
If you do the smallest bit of research on toddler growth spurts, you will see that an increase in appetite is one of the most typical things a child experiences during this time. Perhaps the reason it's written about the most is that parents often get worried when they see that their child is inhaling everything in sight.
Particularly for picky eaters, it's surprising for parents to see their child eat everything on their plate. But this is completely normal for a toddler during a growth spurt.
Their bodies require the extra nutrients to keep up with their growth. So, perhaps you want to accommodate your toddler's hunger with healthy and nutritious food whenever they need it.
Along with a child's increased appetite, it can also be expected that they may change their food preferences. In fact, they may be in love with one or two things and want to eat them constantly. This is completely normal. Your toddler is going through a major change with their body and therefore they may only be craving a certain thing. Think about what your body wanted and didn't want when you were pregnant; there wasn't rhyme nor reason to it.
Accommodating your toddler's desire for eating the same thing over and over again can make grocery shopping a bit awkward. But, if what they want is healthy, it isn't that big of a deal. Just make sure to try to give them something else that will balance their diet.
Although we've already spoken about the fact that a child will, more than likely, want to sleep a lot more during their growth spurt, we haven't spoken about their sleeping routines. In short, their sleep schedule may be completely out of whack.
The reason why a child sleeps more and at strange hours, during their growth spurt, is due to the amount of growth that happens while sleeping. During sleep, the pituitary gland is signaled to produce the Human Growth Hormone.
Since a toddler's body is expected to go through major changes, the brain will signal their bodies into sleeping more whenever it thinks it's the right time to grow.
So, if your toddler falls asleep in the middle of the afternoon, and then decides to run around at 3 AM, it's actually quite normal.
Fussiness is certainly something that parents experience with a toddler in the midst of a growth spurt. But fussiness is just the start. In fact, a toddler's mood may swing rapidly in different directions, much like a woman during pregnancy.
The reason being toddlers are experiencing a massive hormonal shift in their body, triggering an assortment of developments. Toddlers don't know how to handle these developments so they may start crying for seemingly no reason. They may also feel confused since they don't have the tools to deal with what they're experiencing. Elation can easily be switched out for crankiness, fussiness, or a down-right temper tantrum at the drop of a hat.
Not every mother chooses to continue feeding a baby breast milk once they reach the two-year mark. However, for those who do, they need to be aware that they will be required to produce more milk during this growth spurt. This is because a toddler is likely to have an increase in appetite.Just as we already discussed how much more a toddler will eat, their need to drink will increase as well.
Realistically, if a baby has been used to breast milk, that's what they'll want. Anything else simply doesn't compare.
If a toddler is craving this milk, a new mom will have little choice; she'll have to pump more. This can be difficult for moms for a variety of reasons. But they may have to bite the bullet to satisfy their picky and hungry toddler.
One of the enjoyable elements of a toddler's growth spurt is watching them master new tricks. Due to the physical enlargement of the brain during this growth spurt, a toddler is able to start to do things that they couldn't before. This means that new parents should expect to have their cameras at the ready.
Among the many new things that a toddler will be able to do is learn how to hold more complicated items. Their dexterity will become far superior to what it used to be. This means that they will be ready for slightly more delicate dishware, as well as toys.
A new parent should expect that their child may be interested in eating new foods. Thanks to the cognitive leap that a toddler experiences during their growth spurt, a parent can introduce a variety of new healthy snacks into their diet. Although, this may prove difficult if a toddler is particularly fussy with what they want to consume.
Several studies point to the importance of the integration of healthy fats into a toddler's diet, as well as Omega 3s, iron, and antioxidants. This means that avocado, fruit smoothies, bananas, oatmeal with flax seeds, and beans, can be a healthy addition instead of things like cheese and crackers.
One thing that a parent should expect of themselves during their toddler's growth spurt is their own need for monitoring. Chances are new parents, such as possibly yourself, will be writing down all the minor physical and behavior developments that they notice in their child.
This is because parents, especially those on their first baby, tend to be concerned with whether or not things are going as planned. This means that they're worried about abnormalities including disease, mental health, or physical defects.
While it's important to be aware of these changes, a parent needs to let nature take its course. However, if a major concern arises, go see a pediatrician as soon as possible. In short, listen to your intuition, and don't over-think.
Things change quite substantially during a toddler's growth spurt. Their mind is rapidly growing with their bodies in tow. But toddlers don't necessarily know what to do with themselves now that their minds have opened up a realm full of new possibilities.
This is why parents will give them things to do that engage their brains. Not only is it one of the best times for a child to learn, but it also helps keep them out of trouble.
So, parents should expect that their child is now capable of a lot more than cooing and crawling. This is the time for them to introduce learning games, educational television, and films, certain physical activities, as well as to constantly read to them.
This list contains a lot of entries that some parents may find a little daunting. After all, it is a particularly important and different stage in a child's life, and therefore a parent's. But the most vital thing they can remember is that this shall pass.
All of the shifts in mood. The weird eating habits. The aches and pains. The changes in their bodies. All of it... All of it will settle in time. All of the stresses that come with this period will soon become a distant memory. You just have to allow them to happen and attempt to cope in a way that pleases you and your child. There's no way out of it, this is how your toddler will grow.
Sources: Kidshealth.org, NewKidCenter.com, Parents.com, BabyCenter.com, BeyondMommying.com, TodaysParent.com, TheBump.com, NurtureAndThriveBlog.com, Parenting.FirestCry.com, NutritionNews.com, Famlii.com, TheStir.cafemom.com, Healthline.com