Your child’s endocrine system contains hormone-producing glands that help maintain growth and development, puberty, energy level and mood. Endocrine disorders in children are caused by too many or too few hormones circulating throughout the body. In order for your child’s body to function, everything needs to be working in harmony — that is, the glands need to secrete just the right amount of hormones throughout the blood stream.
Glands in the Endocrine System
The main glands of the endocrine system include:
Other glands that contain endocrine tissue and secrete hormones include:
The endocrine system and the nervous system work closely together. The brain sends messages and receives feedback through a “switchboard” called the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls the endocrine system). When this system isn’t working properly, hormone and growth problems can occur.
Your baby has grown by leaps and bounds in this first year of life, and more than doubled his or her birth weight.
Is My Baby Growing Normally?
Babies' growth begins to slow as the first birthday approaches.
Your baby's weight, length, and head circumference have been measured since birth and plotted on a growth chart by your doctor. This is where you should start looking if you have questions about how your baby measures up.
When you review the growth chart with the doctor, make sure to compare your baby's growth with his or her own growth pattern, not with the growth of other babies. As long as your baby's growth is steady, there is probably no reason to worry.
If you are concerned your baby has slowed growth or a drop in weight, the doctor may ask these questions:
Has your baby been sick? A couple of days of not eating, especially if combined with vomiting or diarrhea, can lead to weight loss that will be regained when your little one feels better.
Is your baby on the move? Crawling, cruising, and walking will burn calories, so weight gain might not be as great with this new mobility.
Is your baby just more interested in playing peek-a-boo or dropping the spoon on the floor than eating? The world is a fascinating place, and your baby is learning new things every day. Keep distractions at a minimum during mealtime and pay attention to cues that he or she has eaten enough.
Are you introducing the right kinds of foods? As your baby gets better at eating, you can begin to pay more attention to the texture and variety of foods you serve. If your child is not so interested in puréed baby foods, how about introducing soft table foods and finger foods that are safe and fun? Talk to your doctor if you're concerned about how your baby is growing.
What About the Chubby Baby?
With all the concern about childhood obesity, parents may worry that their baby is gaining too much weight. A few babies and toddlers are overweight. For these children, professional advice from the baby's doctor can be useful.
Never withhold feedings, but pay attention to your baby's cues that he or she is full. Get down on the rug with your baby and encourage physical activity, making sure your little one has a safe space to move around in. Limit the amount of time spent in car seats, strollers, and playpens.
Make sure your baby's calories are coming from nutritious sources — like fruits, vegetables, and fortified cereals. Breast milk or formula should continue to be the main source of nourishment in the first year of life. At this age, 100% fruit juice can be introduced in a sippy cup (limited to 4 ounces, or 120 milliliters, or less a day), but juice is not a necessary food.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your baby is to eat well and be physically active yourself. Your baby has a better chance of growing up fit if good health habits are part of the family's way of life. Not only will you be a good role model, but you'll have the energy to really enjoy life with your child (and the stamina to chase after your little one).
For the remainder of this year and next year, expect that your baby's growth will slow down. As your little one becomes more and more mobile, it's likely that those rolls of baby fat will begin to fall away and be replaced by a longer, leaner silhouette.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 26, 2016