There’s no question that your child’s early years are pivotal for their growth and development.
As a caring mother, you want to ensure that your mini-me is hitting all of their developmental milestones and growing healthily.
And if your child is showing signs of sub-optimal physical growth, this can understandably be a cause of concern.
We answer some frequently-asked questions about growth during the first few years of your little one’s life.
Why Is Monitoring My Child’s Growth Important In The Early Years?
Growth is a key indicator of your child’s health and nutritional status. If your child is experiencing poor growth, this could indicate a medical condition or nutritional deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies may have long-term effects on their physical and mental development.
As such, tracking your child’s height and weight is important for detecting any potential developmental problems. Of course, your pediatrician will do this whenever you bring your child in for a health-check.
But you can also monitor growth at home, by referring to information provided in your child’s health booklet or the online HealthHub app. You’ll find growth charts with percentiles of height, body mass index and weight, divided by gender. These serve as a guide on how much your child should weigh and how fast they should be growing for their age.
Use these charts to plot your child’s growth, tracking it against their own growth percentile. If any deviations are observed, don’t be alarmed! Consult your pediatrician, bearing in mind that every child is unique and develops at a different pace.
What Are Some Common Reasons For Slow Growth?
A child’s growth is influenced by myriad factors, including genetics, one’s psychosocial environment, general health, hormones and nutrition.
Genetic abnormalities such as Turner syndrome may lead to short stature in children. Hormonal issues such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or growth hormone deficiency also adversely impact growth.
In Singapore, poor nutrition due to picky eating is a common factor as well. Picky eating is usually defined as an avoidance of some familiar foods and an unwillingness to eat new foods, coupled with strong food preferences.
A local 2012 survey showed that about 50% of parents reported ‘picky eating all the time’ in their kids aged 1 -10. The prevalence of ‘feeding difficulties’ (food refusal and selective eating) was around 15%.
Picky eating can lead to an increased risk of being underweight and falling back on growth. This is seen as picky eaters are less likely to consume protein and energy, and may have a reduced intake of certain vitamins and minerals. Consequently, the lack of a balanced diet hinders growth.
How Might Slow Growth And Poor Nutrition Affect Learning?
Faltering growth due to poor nutrition doesn’t just affect your child physically − their cognitive development may be compromised as well.
And cognitive development is just as important as physical growth. It involves the development of skills, knowledge and problem-solving abilities, so your child can comprehend the world around them.
Studies have shown that being under-nourished decreases a child’s social interactions, activity levels, curiosity and cognitive function − all of which are essential to their learning process.
Children with insufficient diets are also reported to have problems with academic learning and poorer school performance.
As such, it is important to foster your child’s cognitive development through monitoring their growth and ensuring good nutritional health. By doing so, you provide them a solid foundation for learning, both in school and later on in life.
How Can I Boost My Child’s Growth?
First, ensure they are getting enough sleep and adhere to regular sleeping patterns. Sleep does affect their growth, with maximum growth hormone stimulation taking place during rest.
Once your toddler is able to walk and run around, make exercise part of their daily routine. Exercise is crucial for physical development, and outdoor play can contribute to healthy and strong bone development.
With picky eaters, we recommend slowly introducing new foods. Role model good eating habits by trying new items yourself, and add small amounts to your child’s plate each time.
Also, don’t make mealtimes unpleasant by forcing them to eat. If they still refuse to eat after half an hour, take the food away from them.
If your picky eater is falling behind on growth, consider an Energy and Protein dense milk formula, specially designed for Catch-Up growth, to supplement their daily diet.
Try our new S-26 Gold Ascenda, specially designed to support your child’s holistic growth. Its Build & Learn SystemTM contains a scientific blend of essential nutrients including Sphingomyelin, DHA, Lutein, Nucleotides, Arginine, and all important vitamins and minerals to support their growth and development. This formula is developed to provide kids with the necessary calories and nutrients, but with No Added Sucrose.
In essence, S-26 Gold Ascenda accords the dual benefit of promoting catch up growth^, as well as supporting brain development*.
Find out more at www.wyethnutrition.com.sg/product/s-26-gold-ascenda
^High in Energy
*DHA that supports brain and eye development