When my son first picked up a toy basketball at age two and tossed it straight through the hoop, we had visions of him in a NCAA jersey warming up with our alma mater team some day. We actually have a video of him at four years old sinking a shot from the top of our stairs into a tiny hoop at the bottom, declaring “I lub batteball!” Over the years we’ve watched both his passion for basketball and his skills increase. But what hasn’t seemed to increase is his height. Similarly, all our children seem to be on the shrimpy side, usually hovering around the 10th percentile on their growth charts. So, can you help you child grow taller?

Unfortunately, science says that about 80% of a person’s height is determined by DNA, an intricate double helix of genetic coding that we can’t do a lick about. But…there are a few assists we parents can provide our kids’ DNA to help it reach it’s…um, tallest potential.

Can I Help My Child Grow Taller? 5 Things To Try

1. Consistent and healthy bedtime

The National Sleep Foundation states that babies, children, and teens need significantly more sleep that adults do in order to support their swift physical and mental growth. [1] Recommended sleep by the NSF for babies is 14-17 hours, toddlers 11-14 hours, preschool-aged children need 10-13 hours, school-aged children 9-11 hours, and teenagers should get a recommended 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

In a WebMD article, Dr. Michael J. Breus, PhD says that sleep is no less important than food and drink in the lives of children. [2] Increased sleep can be one sign that your child is going through a growth spurt. Significant growth happens during sleep as secretions of human growth hormone peak during those hours. [3]

You can help your child’s body be ready for growth by keeping a consistent bedtime without distractions like electronics or video games.

2. Proper nutrition

Although you can’t do much about your child’s genetics, you can provide them with the tools for success when it comes to their optimal growth potential, and those tools are proper nutrition. Growing takes energy, and it’s important that that energy be fueled by nutrient-rich sources rather than empty calories like sugar and processed foods.

To help support your child’s growth, encourage a diet high in protein for muscle development and calcium for bone growth. [4] Vitamin-packed foods like fruits and vegetables are key as well. If your kids are select eaters, try a yummy kids protein drink with plenty of nutrients.

Fuel up on these foods: milk, yogurt, cheese, chicken, beans and legumes, whole grains, carrots, bananas, spinach, nuts, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

3. The egg a day study

In 2015 there was an interesting study done in Ecuador on children ages 6 to 9 years old. The group was randomly assigned to two treatment groups: one group ate one egg per day for six months; the other had no intervention. The group who had an egg a day reported a reduced prevalence of growth stunting by 47%. These findings suggested that early introduction of eggs to young children improved their growth.

Want to help your child grow taller? An egg a day sure couldn’t hurt.

4. Growth shakes?

It’s not uncommon for pediatricians to recommend shakes like PediaSure or Healthy Height. Although there is no evidence to support that these supplemental shakes actually help your child grow taller, they do contain ingredients that could give your budding superhero a boost, including protein, calcium, and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid that helps brain growth) to name a few.

Don’t bank on a shake to ensure your child’s spot as a center on the basketball court or a middle blocker on the volleyball court, but then again, you’re still supporting their growth so why not?

5. Monitor their growth chart.

Each child is different, and there are a lot of factors that go into childhood growth (i.e. age, skeletal age, time of puberty, etc.) You really can’t predict your child’s height, but you can look for certain growth spurts. For girls, growth spurts typically happen between the ages of 10-14 years. For boys, it usually happens between the ages of 12-16 years. [Source]

If you’re concerned about your child’s growth, or just curious as to how tall they are growing and when, keep a growth chart like your pediatrician does.

Boys Growth Chart (ages 2-20)

Girls Growth Chart (ages 2-20)

In short (pardon the pun), much of your child’s height has already been predetermined. Darn genetics. Or boo-ya if you’ve been blessed with those tall genes! But although you can’t change nature, you can nurture your child’s growth and development by doing some or all of the above. As for my little shrimps, we will wait and see. In the meantime, does anyone have any killer egg recipes?