Tracking your child’s growth: good growth = good health

It’s Children’s Growth Awareness Day and the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Centre for Population Health team are here to help your child be happy and healthy when it comes to their growth.

“Is it growing pains, or something else?”

“Are growing pains even real?”

“How do I know if my child is growing normally?”

“My child just keeps growing. Everyone keeps telling me she is so tall for her age.”

After the age of three, children grow at least five centimetres every year on average until puberty.

Many children aged three to five and eight to 11 years experience muscle or joint pains, often in their legs, without any obvious cause.

These are sometimes referred to as “growing pains” if all other causes of pain are ruled out.

While harmless, growing pains can be one of the most common reasons for visits to healthcare professionals, and for many children, they can be a normal part of growing up and development.

Children’s Growth Awareness Day, 20 September, aims to raise awareness of the importance of routinely measuring children’s growth throughout their developing years, from birth through to 16 years.

Director of the WSLHD’s Centre for Population Health, Dr Shopna Bag, reassures parents and carers that it is normal to routinely have your child’s growth measured at medical appointments and follow-ups.

“Children’s Growth Awareness Day highlights the importance of regular growth checks during a time when children will be experiencing lots of change,” said Shopna.

“If you have a concern like growing pains, a visit to your healthcare provider can also ensure there is no other cause of pain.”

When a child comes into a hospital, community health centre or sees one of WSLHD’s dentists, they will have their height and weight measured to monitor their growth.

“Our doctors, nurses and allied health staff know how important good growth is for children’s health – they are here to help your children be healthy,” added Shopna.

“A simple height and weight measurement at your child’s medical appointments is a quick and easy way to check they are on track and also enables staff to provide tailored health advice and referrals for other health specialists if needed.”

“I find it interesting when parents say something along the lines of “Wow, I didn’t realise my child was at a healthy weight; I thought they were underweight,” said Lisa.

“I feel like this is the very reason we routinely measure children’s growth.

“Many parents may not be aware if their child’s growth is within the normal range as it is impossible to tell by just looking at your child’s size or shape.”

When conducting height and weight measurements, WSLHD staff can help guide parents with dietary and health information if needed, based on their child’s individual health needs.

Four-year-old Elka recently visited a WSLHD clinic and found out how tall she was, which her mum found very helpful.

“As a parent, I have always had both my kids’ measurements done routinely,” said Elka’s mum Tara.

Fun stickers are available for your child, look out for them as shown here.

“I like to see how they’re tracking on their growth chart for reassurance that they are progressing as expected on their own growth trajectory, or to get support if they weren’t.”

Elka said she thought the experience “was good!”.

Next time your child visits a WSLHD service, don’t hesitate to ask a staff member to measure your child’s height and weight. It’s a great way to check their growth as part of their overall health.

If you’d like more information about children’s growth checks, visit our Western Sydney Healthy Kids website here or if you’re a health professional find out more about children’s routine growth assessments here. If your child is experiencing severe pain, seek medical care from a health professional immediately or dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.