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There are several types of "growth spurts" in children. Most noticable is the major adolescent growth spurt, which occurs at puberty. During the pubertal growth spurt, height gains of 3-5.5 inches a year are the rule. There may also be a smaller but noticeable "midgrowth spurt" in the prepubertal years between 6-1/2 and 8-1/2 years of age. It does not occur in all children, and is more often observed in boys than girls.
It has been shown that children in the first two years of life likewise grow in tiny spurts, growing for a few days, then "resting" for unpredictable periods of time - from a few days to as long as 9 weeks1. Nursing mothers report periods of increased frequency of nursing and fussiness that they commonly attribute to growth spurts. These spurts are spaced irregularly and unpredictably. Growth in young children is thus said to be "saltatory," meaning in "jumps."
1. Lampl et al., 1992. Lampl M, Veldhuis JD, Johnson ML: Saltation and stasis: A model of human growth. Science 1992; 258:801-803.