Discover if your child's growth is on track
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Does your child's growth need a jumpstart?
Learn how to spot slowed growth and help your child get back on track with optimized nutrition.
Children come in all shapes and sizes. But if you're noticing that your child is shorter or smaller than their friends at school, it's natural to wonder: Is my child growing normally? And it's a question worth asking. In 2017, the World Bank found that, globally, 22 percent of children younger than five years old are shorter than is recommended for their age. 1 Nutrition and child development go hand in hand, so if you notice your child is falling behind, their diet might be part of the reason.
Slowed growth is not just a physical issue, it could also impact learning and development if the child is not getting the right nutrition. 2,3 And it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of things that can affect a child's height and growth rate.
Physicians use paediatric growth charts to plot individual growth patterns and compare them to large-scale population data to make sure that a child is on track with their development. Any sizeable dip in your child's growth pattern may warrant a conversation with a pediatrician.
By staying proactive, though, you can spot signs of slowed growth in your child — and help them catch them up to their potential through a balanced diet that includes important nutrients to support growth.
Nutrition to Support Growth
A study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics has shown that slowed growth doesn't have to be permanent, with kids as old as three and four years successfully catching up through nutritional intervention and dietary counseling. 2
This study found that children who consumed two servings a day of the nutrition drink, PediaSure®, showed catch-up growth in weight and height. These children also showed improvements in their physical activity levels, according to parents, and a reduction in their number of sick days over the study period. 2
Studies like this show that optimised nutrition is essential to growth. 2 And you can help with a few simple strategies to monitor your kid’s nutritional intake. Here are five ways to make sure your child is growing healthy, strong and on track.
- Pay Attention to Calories
- “Growth requires energy, which is why underweight children need extra calories in order to catch up”, says Jennifer Williams, a Research Scientist at Abbott. She recommends that parents consult the dietary guidelines for age-specific recommendations for caloric intake. 4 If necessary, add extra calories to those recommendations to help your child's growth patterns get back on track, but make sure they're not empty calories, i.e. junk food. Talk to a nutritionist or healthcare provider for guidance.
- Fuel Up on Macros
- When adding extra calories to help fuel growth, it's important to make sure those calories are coming from a healthy blend of macronutrients — carbohydrates, protein and fat — the nutrients the body needs in large quantities. 5
- Protein, in particular, plays an essential role in many bodily functions, including recovery and repair of tissues in the muscles, skin, organs, blood and more.6 Williams recommends working in protein, such as lean meats and dairy products, at every meal or with healthy snacks to meet the daily recommendations. 5,6
- Focus on Iron
- During periods of growth, the body is highly dependent on iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the body's cells. A paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that increasing iron intake, both through foods and nutritional supplements like PediaSure®, can encourage growth in iron-deficient children. 7
- Iron-rich foods include meat, eggs, seafood, beans, peas, fortified cereals and dark, leafy greens. 8
- Get More Zinc
- The World Health Organization notes that mild to moderate zinc deficiency may be fairly common around the world. Zinc plays an important role in cell growth, and in children, deficiency can slow overall growth and may also reduce resistance to infections. Consider adding beef, spinach, shrimp or kidney beans to your child's meals, as they are all sources of zinc. 9,10
- Don't Forget Vitamin D
- Critical for the body's absorption of calcium, the sunshine vitamin promotes healthy bone formation and growth. Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in children, but you can help get your kid’s levels where they need to be with extra outdoor playtime (sun exposure bolsters levels), vitamin-rich foods such as milk, dairy products and mushrooms, and, if needed, supplementation. 11
Nutrition and child development are closely connected, and though it might be easy to fall behind, it can be just as simple to catch up again with these tips in mind.
- Prevalence of stunting, height for age (% of children under 5). Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.STNT.ZS Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Huynh DTT, et al. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015;28(6): 623-35.
- Pérez-Rodrigo C, et al. Public Health Nutr 2001;4(1A): 131-139.
- Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level. Available at: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-2/ Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Children’s health. Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/nutrition-for-kids/art-20049335?p=1 Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Brazier Y. How much protein does a person need? Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/196279.php#protein_tips Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Low M, et al. CMAJ 2013;185(17): E791-E802.
- Iron Rich Foods. Available at: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/before-during-after/iron-blood-donation/iron-rich-foods.html Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Darnton-Hill I. Zinc supplementation and growth in children. Available at: https://www.who.int/elena/bbc/zinc_stunting/en/ Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Zinc. Available at: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=115 Date Accessed: April 2021.
- Lee JY, et al. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther 2013;18(4):277-291.
Article available at: https://www.nutritionnews.abbott/pregnancy-childhood/kids-growth/how-nutrition-can-fuel-optimal-growth-in-children/
Recommended by parents, approved by picky eaters.
Parents and children recommend PediaSure® for its delicious flavor, ability to incorporate it into yummy recipes, and the 27 vitamins and minerals that help keep children strong and active.
For the first time to see my boy drinking milk so well I tried other milk but he didn't like them but this is different. I love you PediaSure.
Anita - 27 May 2021
My daughter loves it, she's 6 years old. Her appetite has improved since she started with this milk, I am happy she eats now. Highly recommend
Anita - 21 Nov 2021
Increases their appetite, keep snacks available all day. I have seen a great improvement.
Trinette - 14 Mar 2021
A nutritional supplement to help your child grow
When it comes to nutrition, we all want the best for our kids. We all know exactly what they should be eating but getting three balanced meals into your little one isn’t always easy.
Maybe they’re going through a fussy phase or feeling poorly or always on the go. Maybe they’re no longer fooled by your enchanted forest of little broccoli trees.
Therefore, it is important to have nutritional support that can provide your child with the essential nutrients, for when they are not getting them, for whatever reason, in their diets.
PediaSure® has the building blocks your child needs to grow. It is a clinically proven child nutritional supplement and a source of ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS for growth and hard-to-feed concerns.
When your child's defenses are put to the during change of seasons, it can be useful to supplement their diets with essential vitamins & minerals. PediaSure is high in Vitamin D, source of Vitamin C & A to help keep children strong and active.
Proven to improve
With PediaSure® every mom has an ally to rely on when there are picky eaters at the table. Try it for breakfast or as a healthy and tasty snack.