What can you expect when it comes to your final height? It’s almost as easy as taking a look at your parents, but there’s more to it than that.
WebMD asked pediatricians to answer the most common questions about getting taller. They’ve also sorted out the truth from myths when trying to determine your adult height and if there’s anything you can do about it.
What affects how tall I will be?
Your final adult height depends on a number of factors: height and growth patterns, such as early or delayed growth of family members; when you reached puberty; any chronic illnesses that you have; and nutrition, says Vaneeta Bamba, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Can I figure out how tall I will be?
The best way to look ahead is to review your growth chart with your pediatrician, says Adda Grimberg, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Your doctor tracks your height at every checkup. They plot your height and age on a chart, and they know what's typical for healthy boys and girls. Healthy children tend to follow a curve on the chart that is largely set by their genes, Grimberg says.
You can also do a little math, but you'll need to know how tall your parents are.
The formula below will predict your final height, plus or minus two inches, says Mitchell E. Geffner, MD, a pediatrics professor at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
- For girls: [(father's height - 5 inches) + mother's height] divided by two
- For boys: [(mother's height + 5 inches) + father's height] divided by two
If my parents are tall or short, will I be just like them?
Maybe. Your genes, which you get from your parents, play a large role in your growth pattern and your final adult height. But it's not the only factor in your growth, Bamba says.
When will my growth spurt start and end? How much can I expect to grow? How is it different for boys and girls?
A growth spurt normally lasts for two years and starts at different times for girls and boys. For girls, it typically starts around age 9 to 10. The fastest point is around 11 to 12 for girls. Boys usually start around age 11 and peaking at 13.
During this time, boys typically grow about 4 inches each year. Make that 3 inches per year for girls. This is why the average man is 5 inches taller than the average woman, Geffner says.
Boys and girls stop growing at the end of puberty. That's when their growth plates -- the area where their bones grow -- fuse, Grimberg says.
Is there anything I can do to get taller, like posture exercises, foods, or supplements?
The best way to grow as tall as you possibly can is to keep healthy, provide good nutrition, exercise regularly, and sleep well.
You need good nutrition to grow, but most children and teens can get that through food and beverages without needing supplements, Grimberg says.
Great posture is a plus, but it doesn't make you grow. Think of it this way: Posture doesn't make you taller, but it makes the most of your height, Grimberg says.
Be wary of any product that claims to make you taller. Geffner says that you can find products like pills in health food stores that say "growth hormone", often with "stimulator" in parentheses, but these are scams. You cannot take growth hormone as a pill. These products aren't as strictly regulated as you might think, so you have to be careful about claims.
Doctors can prescribe growth hormone shots for certain specific causes of shortness. But routine use should be completely discouraged. Some possible side effects include diabetes and increased fluid in the brain, Geffner says.
I'm so much taller or shorter than my classmates and I'm self-conscious about it. What can I do?
You're not alone. That's a totally normal, common reaction for short or tall kids.
But you can move on from that by working on your self-esteem. The best way to build this is to emphasize your strengths.
Step back and think about what you are good at or what you enjoy doing. If you are good at sports, dance, art, or academics, then focus on this. You'll come across as confident. Remember, physical attributes change over time, Bamba says.
If you’re shorter, shoes can help for both sexes for some height. Some kids fluff up their hair for extra height. You could also be a late bloomer. A bone age test using an X-ray can show if you’re going to grow for a longer time than your friends, Geffner says.
Should I be concerned if I'm dramatically shorter or taller than members of my family?
You should go see your doctor if your height doesn’t make sense compared to your parents and siblings, whether it’s too short or too tall, Geffner says. Your doctor can decide if you need a referral to a growth specialist called a pediatric endocrinologist.
Your doctor should be tracking your growth at yearly visits. Less than 5 centimeters of growth in one year can be abnormal.
If you’re concerned about your growth or how fast you growing, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you figure out if you're on track, Bamba says.