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 (working
on 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 that of other kids the same age and
Helping Your Child Grow
Normal growth — aided by good nutrition, plenty of 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 to eat
extra food or more than the recommended amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other
nutrients will not make them taller. And eating too much may lead to excessive weight
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 encourage
that activity and provide a safe environment for exploration.
At the Doctor's Office
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:
The first is familial (genetic) short stature, in which kids have inherited genes
for short stature but will grow at a normal rate, enter puberty at an average age,
and reach a final adult height similar to that of their parents.
The second is constitutional
growth delay, in which kids grow at a normal rate but are smaller than their peers,
enter puberty later, and continue growing after their peers have stopped, thus usually
reaching a normal adult height.
However, medical conditions like hypothyroidism also can affect a child's growth,
so talk with your doctor if you have a concern.