“Mommy, my legs hurt,” Rocco whined. It was a Monday evening after the long holiday break away from school. I didn’t think much of it, until he continued to complain throughout the evening, and woke up crying, complaining of leg pain, several times in the middle of the night. Since I was awake anyway, I Google searched “toddler leg pain” and was bombarded with articles about toddler growing pains.
Toddlers can get growing pains? I’d heard the term before (and also watched the 80s TV show!), but never actually knew what they were or experienced them myself. I also had no clue that growing pains could happen as early as three years old. So what is up with toddler growing pains?
According to Mayo Clinic, growing pains usually involve aching or throbbing in the legs, often the calves, front of the thighs, or behind the knees. The pain tends to be at nighttime and can often wake kids up, like they did for Rocco. Web MD says growing pains often start at ages 3 or 4 and strike again at ages 8 – 12.
Rocco turned three a few months ago, so he is right in the middle of the age range. Web MD also said the pain usually starts after a long day of physical activity. Since it was Rocco’s first day back to school, he definitely got more physical activity that day than he had gotten over the long holiday break at home. He was sick much of the break, so he spent a lot more time than usual watching cartoons.
Once I figured out it was growing pains affecting Rocco’s sleep, I used the suggestions I’d read about and massaged his legs. Besides massage, the other ways to treat toddler growing pains includes: stretching the muscles and using hot compresses. Since it was the middle of the night, I opted for massage and a little ibuprofen.
Since this first bout of toddler growing pains, Rocco hasn’t mentioned sore legs again. Although I hate to see him uncomfortable, I’m glad to know growing pains are a normal part of childhood for some kids and there is nothing to worry about. As long as Rocco doesn’t experience other symptoms like red or swollen joints, limping, rash, or fever, there is no need to see a doctor.