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Physical Development

image 37 Physical growth begins to slow at around age 1. As growth slows, children need fewer calories and parents may notice a decrease in appetite.

Two-year-old children can have very erratic eating habits that sometimes make parents anxious. It seems as though some children eat virtually nothing yet continue to grow and thrive. Actually, they eat little one day and then make up for it by eating everything in sight the next day.

Children who are beginning to walk have an endearing physique, with the belly sticking forward and the back curved. They may also appear to be quite bow-legged. By 3 years of age, muscle tone increases and the proportion of body fat decreases, so the body begins to look leaner and more muscular. Most children are physically able to control their bowels and bladder at this time.

During the preschool and school years, growth in height and weight is steady. The next major growth spurt occurs in early adolescence. During the years of steady growth, most children follow a predictable pattern. Doctors report how the children are growing in relation to other children their age and monitor the children's weight gain compared to their height. Some children can become obese at an early age. Doubling the child's height at age 24 months fairly accurately predicts adult height.

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