Check-Up: How do I make sure my baby ends up tall?

February 24, 2020

Dear Readers,

Janice emails Check Up about something which has bothered her for her entire life.

She’s the shortest member of her family at 5’ 4”. Both her parents are of moderate height, but her dad has some six-foot-tall brothers.

She is now pregnant with her first child and asks Check Up, “What can I do as a parent to maximise my baby’s height?” She has never been comfortable with being so short. Her baby’s father is 5’ 11”.


Several factors will contribute to your child’s final height, like exercise and adequate sleep. But some things are out of your control, including genetic factors, which will account for 60 to 80 per cent of the child’s final height.

Outside of the overwhelming contribution made by the genes of your father and babyfather, the other factors can be manipulated to some extent.

Between age one and puberty, most children will grow about two inches per year. When puberty occurs between ages 11 to 16, the growth rate can increase up to about four inches per year, but everyone grows differently.

Girls may grow in their early teens, while boys might not begin to grow until their late teens. After puberty ends, with the onset of early adulthood, growth will end permanently as the growth plates in the long bones in the body fuse over between ages 14 and 20; earlier in females and later in males.

However, all Janice needs to do is provide what all good parents try to provide for their children – a healthy, safe environment in which to live and grow, with clean air and spaces to run about and get exercise.

– Proper preventive medical care.

– Healthy nutrition, with a good protein source to build bones and muscles.

– A happy environment, with laughter as well as discipline.

– A balanced diet should include breastfeeding for most of the first year of life, if possible, with proper scheduled meals as the child grows. A balanced diet later on should contain fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and dairy, if tolerated. Please avoid sugar as much as possible, and also saturated and trans- fats! Eating healthy protein regularly can help you gain your tallest possible height, and if the young person is not allergic to eggs, then they should try to like them and eat them often. Milk is also important for the growth of long, healthy bones and for keeping bones healthy in later life.

healthy habits

Regular exercise helps to build and strengthen bones and muscles, and helps to maintain a healthy weight in both children and adults.

Getting adequate sleep during the growing years is also important, as human growth hormone is released mostly at night-time, during sleep.

Not getting adequate sleep may well impact growth.

As a guideline, newborns need 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day. Infants need 12 to 17 hours, while young children need 10 to 13 hours.

Young and old alike should practise good posture. It makes you look taller and more confident. Slouching can eventually affect height negatively. Practising yoga does help to improve posture over time.

Illness tends to stunt growth, so experiencing a healthy childhood and teen years help a lot to maximise growth potential.

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