11 Best Foods To Help Children Grow Taller

by Priyanka Sadhukhan , Nutritionist, CDE, Reviewer & Writer

Genetics determines 80% of the height of an individual (1). However, as per studies, environmental factors (like nutrition and lifestyle) may also influence the height of an individual in their growing years (2).

While we cannot do much about genes, we can ensure to provide proper nutrition to kids to facilitate their growth. In this article, we have listed foods that can aid the overall physical development of your kid, may stimulate the production of the growth hormone, and aid bone growth.

Diet And Height – How Are They Related?

Height is a non-modifiable factor, and the height of a child is mostly dependent on the parents’ height. If both the parents are tall, the child is likely to be tall.

Children tend to grow in spurts and have a slightly increased growth rate between 6-8 years. About 25% of growth in height occurs during puberty (3). Two hormones contribute to this – the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), which determine longitudinal bone growth and maintain bone mass (4). Hence, it may be helpful to consume foods that not only stimulate the production of the growth hormone but also aid bone growth.

Best Foods To Help Children Grow Taller

1. Eggs

Eggs are incredible sources of protein, riboflavin, biotin, and iron. Protein helps in cell growth and development. A study showed that malnourished children who were fed with a high-protein diet over a period developed more height compared to those who were fed with standard protein (5).

Egg white is a concentrated source of protein. Make sure to include eggs almost every day in your child’s meal. Having a yummy omelet or a boiled egg for breakfast is a great way to start their day and ensure they get proteins. However, check for any allergic symptoms using the 3-7 days trial rule.

2. Dairy And Dairy Products

Milk contains calcium and protein, which aid the growth of bones and also develop strength. Dairy products like cheese, yogurt, curd, and cottage cheese are abundant in calcium and vitamins, which are important for bone mineralization in children (6). Get your kids to drink milk every day or make dishes that are filled with the goodness of milk.

Note: If your child has lactose intolerance, replace cow’s or buffalo’s milk with any plant-derived milk after consulting with a pediatrician.

3. Soybeans

Soybeans are rich in proteins. While they are likely to be useful in improving optimal bone health, the mechanisms are still not clear (7). You can create many yummy dishes with soybeans that your kids will relish.

4. Chicken

Poultry meat is a good source of protein, along with with B vitamins (mainly thiamin, Vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid) (8). Studies on the physical growth of young children belonging to low-income groups show that good quality animal protein is required to accelerate growth and development (9). You can try out different recipes that include chicken to improve protein intake of your child.

5. Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables not only give your kids strength but also supply a good amount of calcium. The calcium in leafy vegetables (Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli) balances bone resorption (breaking down of tissue in the bone to release minerals) and deposition (building of tissue in the bone by deposition of minerals), which varies according to age (10). In children and adolescents, bone formation is more than resorption, which supports bone growth.

Spinach is rich in iron – 1 cup (180 g) of spinach provides 6.43 mg of iron, which meets 36% of DV (11). You can add green leafy vegetables to soups and stews, pasta, smoothies, and guacamole.

6. Carrots

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into vitamin A. Adding raw carrots to the diet helps the body absorb calcium more efficiently, which influences bone resorption and keeps them healthy (12). Add raw carrots to salads or make fresh carrot juice for your kids.

7. Fruits

Fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals, essential micronutrients that boost immunity and accelerate growth and development (13). Make it a habit to give your child 1-2 servings of fruit daily. You can also add them to cereals to make them colorful and tasty. Include different varieties of fruits every day to meet the daily requirements.

8. Whole Grains

Whole grains are rich in vitamin B, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and iron and contain a small amount of calcium. All these minerals are essential for bone growth and mineralization (14). You can give your kids whole-grain bread and pasta as well as cereals.

9. Yogurt

Yogurt is nutrient-dense and a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, andzinc (15). A study suggested a positive correlation between probiotic intake and growth and the development of undernourished children (16). However, more research is needed to establish this. If your kids are not fans of yogurt, get them to eat cheese instead as it is rich in proteins, calcium, and vitamin D.

10. Mixed Nuts

Nuts are powerhouses of nutrients and contain vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and proteins. The omega-3 fatty acids present in nuts are beneficial for bone health and turnover (17). The proteins in nuts are also vital for the growth of your kid. Include nuts (15 g) as a snack or add them to cereals. You can powder nuts and add them to porridges.

Note: If your kid has nut allergy or intolerance, check with pediatrician before introducing any new foods.

11. Pulses And Beans

Pulses and beans are excellent sources of protein but have a limiting amount of amino acids(18). If combined with cereals, in the form of khichdi or any other dish, they aid good digestion as well as proper growth. 

Foods To Avoid

As we have seen, proper nutrition is extremely important for the growth and development of children. But there are certain foods that can have detrimental effects on their health. Avoid chocolates, pastries, chips, cookies, French fries, etc. Though they may taste great, they are loaded with free sugars, trans fats, and refined carbs, which affect the health of your child. Consuming too much of processed foods inhibits nutrient absorption, which is essential for growth.

You can allow these foods as a treat or as a part of a cheat meal but not on a regular basis.

Others Tips To Follow

  • Make regular exercise a part of the daily routine of your child. Exercises like swimming and spot jumping and yoga poses, like the Surya Namaskar, can help lengthen the spine.
  • Encourage your child to play games like basketball or volleyball. Continuous running in these sports stimulates the brain center to secrete the growth hormone (GH), a positive response to facilitate somatic growth (19). Playing during early morning or evening helps your body absorb sunlight, which is important for bone growth.
  • Proper sleep is very important to stimulate growth and development. A study showed that sleeping at night for longer helped to stimulate the secretion of the growth hormone (GH) (20). Establish a disciplined waking-sleeping routine to aid your child’s physical development.
  • Maintaining good posture is very important. Slumping or slouching may cause pain in the neck and back and affect your child’s height. Hence, it is important to monitor their posture while they sit, stand, or sleep.
  • Check with the pediatrician if your kid needs any supplements to enhance growth. Ensure you take them for quarterly check-ups to monitor their overall health.

Conclusion

Your child’s height is majorly determined by genes. While it is not possible to increase their height overnight, following a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can help in boosting their health and overall growth and development.

20 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Priyanka Sadhukhan

Priyanka is a nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator. She has over 8 years of experience in nutrition and dietetics with a strong research background. She is passionate about science and how it can be applied to one’s daily lifestyle. According to her, food is the best medicine, and proper nutrition is key to achieving good health. She has also written a book on PCOS and its management for doctors and patients. When she is not working, she loves spending quality time with family and friends. She loves creating innovative, healthy recipes and endorses healthier alternatives to junk foods to promote good health.
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