Skip to main content

The ultimate guide to toddler growth spurts so you can track your kid’s progress

How to tell if your toddler is hitting their growth milestones

Life is never boring when you have a toddler! The toddler stage is full of new challenges and exciting developmental milestones that see them changing at a rapid pace. Because of all these changes, it can be hard to keep up and you may find yourself wondering if your toddler is growing at a normal rate.

Even though your pediatrician probably went over the stages of toddler growth spurts, you might want to know specific details involved in your child’s development and what changes you should be looking for to ensure they’re on track. All kids are different and the ages at which they hit growth spurts will definitely fluctuate, but there are some general guidelines you can watch for to know if you should be concerned. Here’s what you need to know about toddlers and growth spurt ages.

Related Videos
A toddler girl holding a measuring tape apart

When do growth spurts happen?

Your toddler’s growth spurt will happen anytime between the ages of 2 and 4. Some children grow at a steady pace throughout their toddler stage, while others can gain a couple of inches over the course of a few months. The same is true of weight gain. You might see your child gain a few pounds over a short period before their physical development slows down for a while.

Every child is different when it comes to growth. On average, toddlers will grow 2 to 3 inches a year. It can happen gradually or in shorter spurts. Genetics also plays a role in how quickly your child develops, so don’t worry if it looks like your toddler is moving at a slower pace. They will probably catch up to their peers later.

One young child measuring the height of another little child

How much do toddlers grow?

The toddler years are one of the stages where your child will go through significant changes. While babies grow and gain weight at a rapid pace, growth can slow down during the second year of their lives when compared to their first few months.

Before age 2

Witnessing toddler growth spurts may be common in one family and not another. Between your child’s first and second birthdays, it’s normal to see an average growth of 5 inches and 5 pounds. You will notice that your child’s head grows in size and should reach 90% of their adult head size by the time they turn 2.

Between ages 2 and 3

From 2 to 3, your child should gain around 4 pounds and grow by 2 to 3 inches. They’ll become more active and comfortable with walking and running. Your toddler’s silhouette will change a lot during their third year. They will get longer legs, lose their round tummy, and you’ll notice structural changes in their face. Your little one will no longer look like a baby by the time they turn 3.

Between ages 3 and 4

Between the ages of 3 and 4, your child will gain anywhere from 4 to 6 pounds and should grow by 2 to 3 inches.

Remember that growth can happen at a steady pace or in shorter spurts. You might notice short growth stages where your child gains 3 inches and puts on weight over the course of a few months before growth slows down for a while. Your toddler’s personal pace is normal as long as they grow an average of 2 to 3 inches and gain 4 to 5 pounds a year. Ask your pediatrician if you need help to determine if your child is growing at a normal pace.

Mother measuring daughter's height against a wall

Common signs your toddler is about to experience a growth spurt

The following signs can indicate that your toddler is about to go through a growth spurt:

  • Increased appetite. As your toddler’s body grows, so will their caloric intake. Seeing your child’s appetite increase is normal because toddlers tend to be very active, but can also signify that your toddler is going through a growth spurt. 
  • Cravings. It’s not uncommon for toddlers to have a favorite food. However, growth spurts can cause cravings for foods that contain the vitamins and minerals your child needs.
  • Growing pains. Children often experience dull aches and soreness when they grow. Your toddler might be grumpy, tired, or fussy because their limbs feel sore due to growing pains. Be ready to give tiny leg rubs.
  • Sleepiness. Growing up can be exhausting! You might notice that your toddler is more tired than usual. Make sure they get the sleep they need since their body releases the growth hormone while they sleep.
  • Outgrowing clothes and shoes. A common sign that your toddler is going through one of their growth stages is that their clothes don’t fit anymore. Toddlers outgrow pants at a fast pace as their legs get longer.
  • Clumsiness. All toddlers are clumsy, but their limbs growing rapidly creates an additional coordination challenge.
  • Mood shifts. We know — toddlers are always moody. But going through physical changes makes your toddler feel extra tired and grumpy. Changes in hormonal levels affect their mood.
  • New skills. Brain development is one of the many aspects of the growth spurts toddlers go through. You will see your kid make progress in areas like language and motor skills at a dizzying pace.

Every child is different and will grow at a different pace. While some children go through faster growth spurts, others grow at a steadier rate. We recommend using a chart to plot your child’s progress and meeting with your pediatrician regularly to track your child’s height and weight gain, along with developmental milestones. Take lots of pictures, chart every milestone, and be amazed at how quickly your little one grows up in between a few blinks of your eyes.

Editors' Recommendations

Teaching your toddler boundaries without hurting your bond
Why teaching a toddler boundaries is so important and how to do it
A toddler on a log with a parent

Maybe you thought it was hilariously cute the first time your baby grabbed your face or their toothless mouth nibbled on your nose. The keyword there: Toothless.

Then, your infant turned into a toddler — and got teeth. No magic switch turns your infant into a polite mini human the moment they turn into a 1-year-old. It’s a gradual, years-long process that you’ll guide.

Read more
Show your young child you love them with these Valentine’s Day toddler activities
Valentine's Day with kids can be fun - and these preschooler-approved activities prove it
Child making a paper heart with scissors

Valentine's Day is the holiday to celebrate love, but it doesn't just have to be romantic love (like how kids join in with giving Valentine's cards at school). If you're spending Valentine's Day with kids, you may want to include them in the celebration. Engaging your little one in Valentine's Day toddler activities is a way to show them love and even build skills and self-esteem. Seriously — art, cooking, and physical activity are all on the table when you're spending Valentine's Day with kids.
Like with any holiday, you can make it your own. Here are toddler and preschool Valentine's Day activities your young children will embrace — and so will you.

Valentine's Day crafts for toddlers and preschoolers
Heart crafts
Make a garland, mobile, wreath, or card out of paper hearts, or adapt just about any craft to include the color red or pink. There are endless Valentine's Day crafts out there for any age that will let you have quality family time around the table.

Read more
Tips on how to get your toddler to follow directions willingly (seriously)
Not following directions is common toddler behavior. Here's how to overcome it together and with respect
two parents playing with blocks with a child

Toddlers are full of energy and exceptionally curious. It can make these years fun for parents and they can start learning more and more about their little one’s unique personality and interests. Toddlers are learning, too. As they become stronger and more mobile, they become more independent — which is a natural part of growing up. However, it also makes teaching a toddler directions important.

Making a toddler follow directions can feel like a steep uphill climb. Think about it: Would you like being told that you must skip lunch with a friend to power through an unexpected work project? Pushback is not abnormal toddler behavior. You and your child can work together to overcome challenges.

Read more