When Do Boys Stop Growing?

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 9 min.

All children are different when it comes to height, weight, and other aspects of their growth and development–however, when looking at various age groups, certain trends appear that can help identify what the norms are. Most boys will reach their adult height between the ages of 16 and 20, with the vast majority of these reaching their maximum by age 18. Other elements of growth, such as weight, do not have an end-point, but can also be evaluated to compare with children in the same age range.

The rate of a child’s growth is impacted by factors that exist before they are even conceived–genetics or family history play a huge role in determining a child’s growth. Similarly, the fetal environment also influences the child’s growth, so by the time a child is born, much of their growth has already been determined. That being said, early childhood and puberty are two of the most important times in a child’s life that environmental factors such as nutrition and exercise can play a large role in their growth and development.

Many chronic medical conditions and diseases also influence a child’s growth–some of these conditions may cause a delay while others permanently stunt growth rate. Parents should be familiar with what the average height and weight are for their child’s age so that any noticeable differences can be identified. Speaking with a healthcare provider is the best way to determine what may be influencing your child’s growth.

How Is Growth Affected By Puberty?

Boys experience much of their growth during the stage of adolescence known as puberty. Depending on the child, puberty can start as early as age 9 or 10 or as late as age 16–children who develop much earlier or much later than their peers may feel self-conscious about their development. The majority of an adolescent boy’s growth will happen between the ages of 12 to 15.

During puberty, boys experience growth in several areas–their arms and legs get longer, their hands and feet get bigger, and their height increases. Boys will also see an increased size in their Adam’s apple, testicles, and penis, as well as the production of facial hair, armpit hair, and pubic hair. A boy’s voice will also begin to deepen and may sound like it is cracking at times.

Boys also experience changes in their weight during puberty. As boys progress from childhood to adolescence, they begin to lose body fat and may not have the ‘baby face’ that they did as children. Boys develop more muscle mass and the distribution of their body weight begins to change as their shoulders broaden and chest develops.

What Is The Average Height For Boys?

Boys can vary widely in terms of height throughout childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood. At the age of five, the median height for a boy is 43 inches tall; however, the range is typically from 39.5 to 46 inches. By the time a boy is ten years old, their height usually falls between 49.5 and 59.5 inches, with the median height being 54.5 inches tall.

During the teenage years, boys are experiencing much of their increased growth when it comes to height. By 13 years of age, boys typically measure between 4 foot 8 inches to 5 foot 7.5 inches–the median height at this age is 5 foot 1.5 inches. Some boys reach their maximum height by the age of 16, with the median for this age being 5 foot 8 inches and the range from 5 foot 2.5 inches to 6 foot 1 inch.

The vast majority of boys are at their maximum height between 18 and 20 years of age and will not increase in height after this point. Half of 20-year-old men measure shorter than 5 foot 9 inches, while the other half are taller than 5 foot 9 inches. Only three percent of 20-year-old men are shorter than 5 foot 4.5 inches and only three percent are taller than 6 foot 3 inches.

What are Early Bloomers and Late Bloomers?

When it comes to puberty, the majority of boys will experience the beginnings of this phase of life around age 12. Not all aspects of puberty begin at once though–generally, the first signs that a boy is entering puberty include the growth of pubic hair, the increased size of the testicles, and an increase in height. Other elements of puberty including increased Adam’s apple size, deepening voice, and facial hair typically occur later on.

An early bloomer is someone who experiences puberty at an early stage than most children. For boys, an early bloomer would be someone who starts puberty around age 9 or 10–neither parents nor children are typically expecting these changes at this age, so it can come as quite a surprise. Being an early bloomer often means that the child is taller than his peers in early adolescence, but may reach their maximum height earlier and end up being shorter than average as an adult.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, late bloomers enter puberty at an older age than most children. A boy who doesn’t show the initial signs of puberty until age 14 or 15 would be considered a late bloomer. While these children tend to be shorter than their peers during early adolescence, many end up being taller than average as adults.

What Are The Signs of A Growth Delay?

It is important that your child see a healthcare provider regularly so that they can monitor your child’s growth. Standardized tools such as the CDC growth charts are frequently used to compare your child’s height and weight with their peers in the same age group. There are signs that parents can be on the lookout for to determine if their child may have a delay in growth.

The most common sign of a growth delay in boys is a short stature or low weight–if your son appears much shorter or thinner than his peers, this could be a sign of a growth delay. Your child’s nutritional intake can also signal a growth delay, for example, if they are not eating an appropriate amount of food for their age. Another sign of a growth delay involves other parts of their body, for example, their legs and arms may be of abnormal size.

Other signs of a growth delay can include lethargy or lack of energy, overly dry skin, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. If you are concerned about your son’s growth rate, consult your healthcare provider for an evaluation. Depending on the causes, there are often steps that can be taken to correct your child’s growth.

Do Genetics Determine A Boy’s Growth?

While there are several factors that influence a boy’s growth, genetics play a major role in determining height and other growth. Studies have found that as much as 80 percent of a person’s height is determined by genetics. To obtain a rough estimate of your son’s adult height, you can take a look at the men on both sides of the family to give you an idea.

Genetics also play a role in a boy’s weight–it is estimated that between 40 and 70 percent of a person’s weight and body shape can be determined by genetics. Many other factors influence weight including activity level and nutrition. Even when looking at a child’s family members, it can be difficult to determine a child’s future weight as eating and exercise habits can drastically influence a person’s growth.

There are certain genetic disorders that can play a role in your child’s growth. For example, Noonan syndrome is a condition that may result in poor weight gain, low growth hormone levels, a delayed growth spurt during adolescence, and undescended testicles. This disorder is caused by a mutation in genes that interferes with the proper cell growth.

What Causes Stunted Growth?

There are several factors that can contribute to stunted growth in a child and the vast majority of these occur before a child reaches three years of age. Before a child is even born, there can be genetic factors that influence growth rate; in addition, the use of certain drugs during pregnancy can influence the growth of the fetus. Lack of nutrition can be a major cause of stunted or delayed growth in the early childhood years.

A child who does not receive adequate nutrition during the formative years of their development may experience stunted growth as a result. Similarly, children who have certain conditions that impact their ability to properly absorb nutrients from their food may also see delays in growth. A child who is deficient in growth hormones or who has anemia may also have abnormal growth patterns.

Hypothyroidism and down syndrome may also influence a child’s growth, as can Cushing syndrome which often results in a lower than normal height. Skeletal dysplasia can cause abnormal bone development which impacts growth as well. Smoking can also stunt growth–a 2008 study shows that boys who started smoking in puberty tended to be one inch shorter than their peers as a result.

What Factors Influence A Boys’ Growth?

Several different factors have an impact on the growth rate of boys throughout childhood and adolescence. Genetics play a major role in determining a boy’s height and also influence their weight. Medical conditions and disorders also impact a boy’s growth–these can sometimes be treated so that growth rate returns to a normal level.

Nutrition is one factor that parents have some control over when it comes to the growth rate of their child. Providing boys with enough food, adequate protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits can decrease the likelihood that they will have nutritional deficiencies that can delay growth. Speak with a healthcare provider or dietician if you have questions or concerns about how much your child is eating or what you should be feeding them.

Three other factors that can influence a boy’s rate of growth are activity level, sleep, and stress. Exercise and physical activity will mainly impact your child’s weight and body composition, for example, muscle mass and body fat. Getting enough sleep and limiting the amount of stress in your child’s life will also promote a healthy growth rate, both in early childhood and during puberty.

Can You Increase Your Child’s Height?

Since much of a person’s height is determined by genetic factors, there are not a lot of things that parents can do to increase their children’s height. However, nutrition does play a big role in many aspects of growth including healthy bone development and adequate cell growth. Starting in pregnancy, mothers can play a role in their child’s height by consuming a healthy diet full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients.

Ensuring that your child is eating enough food and that they are enjoying healthy foods can contribute to how well they grow and may influence their height. Exercise is another factor that might impact how tall a child grows–encourage your son to find physical activity that they enjoy doing, whether this is playing soccer, dancing, or going for runs with the dog. Children and adolescents should engage in some form of physical activity every day for optimal growth and development. 

Getting a good night’s sleep is also crucial to your child’s growth and may have an influence on height. Much of a child’s growth occurs while they are sleeping when the body is not as busy with other tasks. Encourage your child to have a healthy sleep routine which may include a regular bedtime and wake-up time, a period of quiet, non-stimulating activity before bed, and a dark, cool room to sleep in. 

Final Thoughts

While genetics play a large part in your child’s growth, other factors like physical activity, nutrition, and sleep can also influence how tall your son will be. Most boys experience growth spurts throughout childhood and particularly during puberty, with the majority reaching their adult height by the age of 18. Encouraging healthy habits from an early age is a great way to help your child develop properly and reach developmental and growth milestones.

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