Late Bloomer Or Stunted Growth? Know The Difference And How To Deal With ItHere's how you can tell if your kid's growth is right on track.CREATED WITH PEDIASURE PLUS
It’s common to expect that kids take after their parents when it comes to height. If mom and dad are short or average in height, it’s expected that their children won’t grow up very tall. But did you know that the parents’ genes actually account for just a part of a child’s overall growth?
According to a study, only 40% of a child’s height in their first five years can be attributed to genes. The rest of the 60% is dictated by largely environmental factors — including food intake and the environment the child grows up in. This means parents can actually intervene to help children reach their maximum growth potential.
Late bloomer versus stunted growth
Let’s say you observe your child is lagging behind his peers in terms of growth. Before anything else, you need to figure out whether your child is simply a late bloomer or he’s experiencing stunted growth.
Late bloomers will naturally catch up as they age and undergo puberty. However, stunting must be addressed as early as possible. After all, it is a result of chronic undernutrition that, when neglected, would likely have irreversible consequences on the child’s life.
Here are three factors that point to stunted growth in children:
- They’re shorter compared to their peers: While being a late bloomer and someone experiencing stunted growth are both characterized by a shorter body stature as opposed to their kids their age, stunting has more precise attributes. The World Health Organization (WHO) says children are officially considered stunted when their height-for-age lags behind the median of the WHO Child Growth Standard for more than two standard deviations. It is worth checking your child’s height by this standard so you know if you’re dealing with stunted growth. Moreover, different studies also connect stunting to low birth weight, which is an early sign of stunting that parents need to watch out for.
- They tend to be sick more often: Another major difference between a late bloomer and one who’s experiencing stunted growth is the state of their immune system. While the former is rather healthy, the latter tends to get sick frequently. During a Smart Parenting live discussion, an expert emphasized that kids being masakitin should not be taken for granted. Instead, consider it a sign that something is not right in their development. Be aware as well that stunted growth manifests in a child's regularly low appetite and a tendency for picky eating.
- They exhibit less cognitive skills: If a child is having difficulty being at par with his peers in terms of learning ability and socialization, it could also be a sign of stunting. But, keep in mind that kids learn at different paces so it’s best to turn to professionals to ensure whether this is a sign of stunted growth.
The good news is, although stunted growth has a high chance of being irreversible, there's a window of opportunity for parents to intervene to prevent it from happening.
Here are some things you can do to help kids reach their maximum growth potential — and ultimately lower the chances of stunted growth:
1. Measure and monitor kids' growth (height and weight)
Being aware of your children's growth track — and how it measures up to established growth standards — is essential. One way to keep track is to measure their height and weight versus the standards set by the WHO. As the primary caregiver, it will be your duty to be informed and be up to date when it comes to your children's growth.
2. Give them nutritious, balanced meals every day
This can't be stressed enough: Kids need different kinds of nutrients to stay healthy, and making sure they consistently receive all of them is a must. Parents may refer to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s Pinggang Pinoy to go about doing this. It breaks down the kinds of food kids need daily based on their age bracket.
An oral nutritional supplement such as PediaSure Plus can also help. Suitable for kids ages 3 to 5, PediaSure Plus helps meet a child's daily energy and micronutrient requirements when partnered with a balanced diet.
Aside from this, having a regular eating schedule is a must. If you’re dealing with picky eaters, adapting the food-chaining approach might be a good idea, too. It works by first letting kids eat what they want and then gradually upgrading the food into something healthier.
3. Keep them constantly active
A balanced and nutritious diet is not enough. It should also be partnered with regular physical activity for the child to achieve optimal growth and development. According to the WHO, the time that should be allotted for physical activity will depend on the child's age. For healthy children ages 3 to 4, 180 minutes of physical activity — with 60 minutes spent doing moderate to vigorous physical activity — should be enough.
Parents can encourage their children to do stretching, skipping, or even yoga. It’s also a good idea to do some physical activity under the morning sun — just remember to put on sunscreen for skin protection!
4. See that kids get enough sleep
The amount of sleep a child gets plays a pretty big role in his growth. Sleeping helps release hormones that aid in his development.
The WHO also has recommendations on the amount of sleep for every age bracket. Healthy kids ages 3 to 4 should be having 10 to 13 hours of good quality sleep every day.
5. Protect them against infections
Studies say diarrhea and respiratory infections increase the chances of stunting. That’s why making sure the home environment is clean, safe, and conducive for a child's growth is essential. As such, remember to teach kids proper handwashing and hygiene. Remember to check that the water the family is drinking and using for cooking and meal preparation is clean, too.
Make sure your child’s growth is on the right track by using the PediaSure Plus child height predictor and by joining the PediaSure Plus #GrowthCheckDay program!