Speaking of a child’s growth rate (height), it is quite understandable when people place it down to only genetics. Some also think it is pre-ordained or divine, believing that there is nothing any mortal can do to influence that aspect of a child’s life.
But, that is not true. According to experts, there are things parents, guardians, and even caregivers can do to help the children in their care to grow taller, and these include good nutrition and adequate sleep.
A consultant paediatrician, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, who spoke with Punch said beyond genetics, when children have adequate sleep and they eat the right kinds of food, they tend to have increased height. Perhaps some would find it interesting that sleep could contribute to a child’s height.
According to WebMD, an American corporation that provides news and information pertaining to human health and well-being, one to four weeks old babies should sleep for between 15 to 16 hours per day, though not at a stretch.
Also, one to four months old babies should sleep for 14 to 15 hours; four to 12 months old babies are advised to sleep for 14 to 15 hours but that they oftentimes do only 12 hours.
“Establishing healthy sleep habits is a primary goal during this period, as your baby is now much more social, and his sleep patterns are more adult-like,”
Children that are one to three years old are advised to sleep for 12 to 14 hours per day, but it said findings showed that they usually do 10 hours, while three to six years old children should do 12 hours per day, and seven to 12 years old should do 10 to 11 hours per day.
For those who are 12 to 18 years old, they are advised to have eight to nine hours per day. “Sleep needs remain just as vital to health and well-being for teenagers as when they were younger,” it added.
This implies that children who follow these sleep recommendations would reap the benefits from their height and overall well being.
Speaking on the importance of sleep to the growth rate, Adesanya said,
“Apart from environmental factors, the Growth Hormone surges (increases) when children are asleep.
“Beyond that, increase in the height of children is a product of so many things. Genetics is one of them, there is environmental factor and one other thing is eating food rich in protein.
There are two types of protein; first class and second class. First class proteins are the ones from animals, like egg, beef, etc., and they tend to make people grow taller.”
On the controversy that sometimes surrounds the counsel of eating one egg per day, Adesanya said one egg per day is “very safe” for children and that it would help them to grow.
“The truth is that egg consumption is beneficial; it is a rich source of protein. There are so many anti-oxidants in egg, and they help to fight things like cancer and infections in the body.
“When children eat protein, especially the first class protein, it influences their growth because it builds up their muscle. It builds the flesh and the muscles. So, one egg per day is healthy for a child.”
Scientists have also found that the pituitary gland, which is attached to the base of the brain, produces hormones that control growth and development, including the growth of bones in the spine, leg and other parts of the body, which influences the child’s growth.
Thus, to help their children have good height, parents are advised to make sure that their children have enough sleep, and that is independent of genetics, which, according to professor of community child health in Glasgow and academic lead in growth charts at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Prof. Charlotte Wright, is “the strongest influence on height.”
It should also be noted that chronic illness and poor nutrition could affect a child’s growth, hence, parents who observe poor growth in their children should seek medical advice.