5 Common Habits You May Not Realise Can Negatively Affect Your Child's Growth And Health

Do you have a picky eater?

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As a parent, it's perfectly normal to worry about your little ones' growth and health

"My daughter is picky, how do I get her to eat?", "Help, my boy's height is way below average!", "How do you get your child to sleep through the night?", "My child is always falling sick, what do I do?"

We've all spent countless nights Googling oddly specific questions about our kids, or asked Facebook groups for advice. After all, as parents we only want what's best for our kids.

All that worrying is definitely warranted, as research has found that the first five years of childhood is crucial in your child's growth

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards, 60% of your child's adult height is achieved during their first five years¹. However, in Malaysia, stunting is prevalent among Malaysian children and it comes with long-term consequences like shorter adult height and lower academic performance.

This is why it's important to provide your child with a complete and balanced nutritional foundation during the first five years when they experience rapid growth. Not only is physical growth important, this is also the time they learn important skills, including how to socialise, emotional regulation, good behaviour, thinking independently, and communication.

While parents are always doing the best they can, there are a few everyday habits that can creep into your family lifestyle, which may affect your child's overall growth.

Here are five common habits you may not realise negatively affect your child's growth:

1. Children spending more time playing on screens instead of playing outside

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It's no secret that screen addiction can be a serious issue, not just for adults, but children too. While YouTube videos and games once in a while can certainly be a life-saver for busy parents, it's important to try and keep a cap on screen time.

Instead, encourage your children to get at least an hour of exercise a day to help strengthen muscles and bones and maintain a healthy weight. Running, jumping, climbing, and playing are all forms of exercise, and have many benefits. Whenever you get the chance, bring them to the playground to help them stay active while having fun!

2. Not having a set bedtime that is age appropriate

In the long term, a child's growth may be affected if they do not get their full amount of sleep. According to The Sleep Council, kids from three to six years old need around 10 to 12 hours each night. That's because growth hormones are released during sleep. When children are deprived of their sleeping hours, it prevents them for achieving their maximum height potential.

With daycares, kindergartens, and schools reopening, it's important to set an early bedtime to ensure your child gets enough rest, and is able to wake up early and refreshed the next day.

3. Not checking in on your kid's hygiene routine regularly

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Parents will, of course, teach their children good hygiene habits, such as showering, brushing teeth, washing hands, and using the toilet properly. However, kids can get lax about their hygiene routine, so it's important to check in on them from time to time, just to make sure they're still on track and keeping good habits.

Once in a while, make it a point to wash hands with soap together, or watch them brush their teeth to ensure they're doing it correctly.

Good hygiene habits are an important way to reduce the number of sick days. Falling ill can negatively impact a child's growth. When children fall sick, the nutrients that they consume are redirected to fight against the illness, thus becoming ineffective in contributing to their growth.

4. Allowing kids to dictate when and what they eat

One of the most important things that affects your child's growth is the food they eat. Your child's adult height is reliant on the first five years of their life, with nutrition contributing 80% to their growth².

Of course, getting your child to eat a healthy, balanced diet is easier said than done! While we can't force kids to finish their meals (or sometimes even try it!) we can set good eating habits. This starts with setting meal and snack times, offering them healthier snacks like fruits and nuts, and making small changes like using wholemeal bread instead of white bread.

5. Keeping children away from the sun

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While being under the sun for too long can be dangerous, sunshine gives our bodies important vitamins. Sun exposure allows us to make vitamin D, a crucial vitamin that aids in bone development, strengthening the immune system, and providing a good night's sleep. All of this leads to healthy growth in children.

Kids need a little sunshine every day. Bring them for morning walks in the neighbourhood, to the park on weekends, or have breakfast on the porch or balcony once in a while.

As a parent, there's nothing more rewarding than seeing your child grow into their full potential

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However, a recent survey by IMFeD For Growth and Abbott showed that 1 in 6 Malaysian children between one and five years old have stunted growth³. This means that almost 17% of young kids in Malaysia aren't growing to their fullest potential.

PediaSure® wants to help Malaysian parents keep their kids' growth on track

Through their Grow Right campaign, PediaSure wants to educate Malaysian parents on the four growth drivers for children to achieve their full growth potential:

1. Good nutrition
2. Good hygiene
3. More playtime
4. Adequate sleep

Measure your child’s height and weight against a growth chart at least every six months or so. You can do this using a growth chart at home or at your nearest pediatrician clinic. To find out if your child is growing on track towards their optimum adult height, check out PediaSure's Height Predictor!

PediaSure is now available in a NEW plain flavour with 0% SUCROSE for your child to #GrowRight

Image via Pediasure

PediaSure recently launched their all-new PediaSure plain flavour with 0% sucrose, which provides the same benefits as the current PediaSure Vanilla and Chocolate variants.

If your child is a picky eater or is behind on their growth, try providing them with PediaSure, the #1 child nutritional supplement recommended by experts* and is formulated with Arginine, Natural Vitamin K₂ and 25 key nutrients to help your child:

√ Improve Appetite in 4 weeks⁴
√ Improve Height & Weight in 8 weeks⁴'⁵
√ Less Sick Days in 16 weeks⁴
√ DHA for Brain Development

Try the #1 Child Nutritional Supplement Recommended by experts and you’ll notice visible growth in 8 weeks! Get a FREE PediaSure sample today!


  • *Abbott Regional HCP Tracker for Growing Up Milk (GUM) Category in Malaysia, conducted by IPSOS in 2019

  1. WHO Growth Standard, 2007
  2. Jelenkovic, A et al. Genetic and environmental influences on height from infancy to early adulthood: An individual based pooled analysis of 45 twin cohorts. Sci. Rep. 6, 28496; doi: 10. 1038/srep28496 (2016)
  3. Full report of IMFeD Nationwide Growth Screening exercise among 225 participating private paediatric clinics between April – July 2018 among 20,748 children between 1-5 years old
  4. Huynh DTT et al. J Hum Nutr Diet (2015), 28, 623-635. Longitudinal growth and health outcomes in nutritionally at-risk children who received long-term nutritional intervention
  5. Huynh DTT et al. 5th International Conference on Nutrition & Growth 2018. Oral nutritional supplementation improved linear growth in Filipino children at nutritional risk

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