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Ages & Stages

Your Preschooler's Physical Appearance and Growth

Your child’s body should continue to lose baby fat and gain muscle during this time, giving her a stronger and more mature appearance. Her arms and legs will become more slender and her upper body more narrow and tapered.

In some children, gains in height occur so much more quickly than gains in weight and muscle that they may begin to look quite skinny and fragile. But this doesn’t mean they are unhealthy or that anything is wrong; such children fill out gradually as their muscles develop.

In general, a preschooler’s growth gradually will begin to slow this year and in the subsequent ones—from about a 5-pound (2.3-kg) gain and about a 3 1⁄2 inch (8.9 cm) increase in height during the third year, and then decreasing to about 4 1⁄2 pounds or 2 kg, and 2 1⁄2 inches or 6.4 cm during the fifth.

However, after age two, children of the same age can vary noticeably in size and weight, so try not to spend too much time comparing your child’s measurements with those of her playmates. As long as she’s maintaining her own individual rate of growth, there’s no reason to worry.

Measure your child twice a year and record her measurements on her growth chart. If her weight seems to be rising faster than her height, she may become overweight, or if her height does not increase at all in six months, she may have a growth problem. In either case, discuss this with your pediatrician.

Your child’s face also will mature during these years. The length of her skull will increase slightly, and the lower jaw will become more pronounced. At the same time, the upper jaw will widen to make room for her permanent teeth. As a result, her face actually will become larger and her features more distinct.

Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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