Kids at this age are still very physical, but they learn in a more focused and less hectic way than when they were younger. These kids typically gain about 4-5 pounds (2 kilograms) and grow about 2-3 inches (5 to 8 centimeters) per year. An average 4 year old weighs about 40 pounds and is about 40 inches tall.
Preschoolers are still developing and refining their gross motor skills, using their arms and legs to move and play, as well as their fine motor skills for arts and crafts and puzzles. By this age, kids can usually hop on one foot and are learning to skip.
Play becomes increasingly imaginative and is an important part of kids' growth and development now. So it's important to make sure they have time for creative play — alone and with friends — whether that means drawing pictures, playing house, or acting a part.
Although kids come in all shapes and sizes, a healthy child should continue to grow at a regular pace. To monitor physical development, the doctor will weigh and measure your child at regular checkups, then plot the results on a standard growth chart to follow over time and compare with other kids the same age and gender.
Normal growth — aided by good nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise — is one of the best overall indicators of a child's good health. But your child's growth pattern is largely determined by genetics. Pushing kids with "short genes" to eat extra food or greater than recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients will not make them taller. And eating too much may lead to excessive weight gain.
Preschoolers can be picky eaters, but it's important to continue to offer a variety of foods. In addition to good nutrition, preschoolers should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Kids at this age are naturally active, so it's up to you to encourage that activity and provide a safe environment for exploration.
There is a wide range of "normal" heights and weights. Shorter parents, for instance, tend to have shorter kids, whereas taller parents tend to have taller kids.
Although you may worry if your child isn't as tall as his or her peers, the more important question is whether your child is continuing to grow at a normal rate. If, for instance, your child's growth rate had been normal but has recently slowed, the doctor may track your child's measurements over a few months to see whether this is a possible health problem or just a variation of normal.
You may be concerned that your child is too small. Most kids who are very short — at or below the 5th percentile on the growth chart — are usually following one of two normal variant growth patterns:
However, medical conditions like hypothyroidism also can affect a child's growth, so talk with your doctor if you have a concern.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Human Growth Foundation The Human Growth Foundation is a resource for kids and teens with growth problems.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Growth Charts Doctors use growth charts to figure out whether kids' height and weight measurements are "normal" and whether they're developing on track. Here are some facts about growth charts.|
|What Is a Growth Disorder? The other kids in the class have been getting taller and developing into young adults, but your child's growth seems to be lagging behind. Could a growth disorder be the cause?|
|Fitness and Your 4- to 5-Year-Old Take advantage of your child's natural tendency to be active. Staying fit can help improve kids' self-esteem and decrease the risk of serious illnesses later in life.|
|Preparing Your Child for Visits to the Doctor When kids anticipate "going to the doctor," many become worried and apprehensive about the visit. Here's how to help them.|
|Communication and Your 4- to 5-Year-Old Communicating with a child is one of the most pleasurable and rewarding experiences for both parent and child. Learn how to connect with your 4- to 5-year-old.|
|Your Child's Weight "What's the right weight for my child?" is one of the most common questions parents have. It seems like a simple one, but it's not always easy to answer.|
|Growing Pains Does your child sometimes wake up crying in the middle of the night complaining of throbbing leg pain? It could be growing pains.|
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