Resources for parents to get through the challenges.

  1. Home
  2. Parenting

Can Short Parents Have A Tall Child? Is It Inherited?

When we become parents we often spend hours wondering what our children will look like when they grow up, what will they be interested in, or do for a job.

Will they get married, have children and how tall will they be. Height is something that parents consider a lot especially if they themselves are at the extremes of the height chart – being either below average height or above it.

But how much influence do our genes have on our height? Can short parents have a tall child?

Let’s take a look at the science behind our height and see what outcomes we can expect for our children.

Can Short Parents Have A Tall Child?

The short answer is yes, short parents can have a tall child. But there are far more factors to consider than just the height of the parents and this is why height is so difficult to predict.

Some genetic traits recur in each generation of a family and this is because they are dominant traits. While other less dominant traits may only resurface several generations after they first appeared.

Another factor to consider is the environment and nutrition that the baby received while developing as this will play a key role in bringing forward the entire genetic potential of each child.

Which Parent Is Height Inherited From?

Our height is influenced by the genetics that we inherit from both our parents as well as key factors such as environment and nutrition.

The height and weight of our children is something that is measured from the minute they are born and is used to determine if they are growing within the calculated range for their age.

By using these measurements as well as the height of parents we can also predict the height of the child at the age of 18 – although this is not always 100% accurate.

The height prediction is made by calculating the average height of both parents and then adding 7 centimeters for males or subtracting 7 centimeters for females.

So, for example, one of my sons is 4 years old and by using this method they suggest that he will be around 6 foot tall by the time he reaches 18, currently, his height and weight is within the expected growth range for his age.

Now my youngest son is 3 years old and he is tiny for his age but the same method predicts that he will also be around 6 feet tall by the time he reaches 18 years old, yet currently his height and weight are outside the expected range for his age.

Both boys have been subject to the same environmental and nutritional factors so this is where their gene combination is coming into play.

Is Being Tall Just Genetic?

It has been estimated by scientists that around 80% of our height is predetermined by our DNA and the variants within that sequence that we have inherited.

But there is still little understood about which genes affect height and actually what they do to affect our height.

There are some very rare gene mutations that have had dramatic effects on a person’s height – a gene variant that causes achondroplasia which is characterized by short stature.

Over 700 gene variants have been discovered although many do not have such a visible impact on height. Some of these variants affect both indirectly and directly the growth plates.

These are the long bones in legs and arms where new bone is produced, which in turn lengthens the bones as children grow.

What About The Other 20%?

As we said those 700 genes only account for 80% of how short or tall we are, while the other 20% that affect height are external.

Things such as:

  • Activity levels
  • Nutrition – the quality and quantity of food
  • Availability of healthcare
  • Exposure to toxic substances such as tobacco

Another factor that has always been thought to play a large part in height is ethnicity. However, these differences are now being largely removed especially from future generations as families migrate to countries with better nutrition, healthcare, and higher incomes.

By ensuring that our children eat a healthy and balanced diet allows them to give their cells the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and proteins they need to do their job with greater efficiency and accuracy. It provides their cells with the perfect environment for their genetics to reach their full potential.


Genetics can not reach their full potential if the cells in the body do not receive a consistent and healthy supply of the following:

  • Proteins
  • Fiber
  • Fatty Acids
  • Hydration
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

It is not to say that those children that do not receive the proper nutrition will stop their cell replication as this is a process that is continuously carried out within each cell but without the proper nutrition, those cells will not and can not reach their full genetic potential.

Damaged Genes And Replication

It is clear that genes often experience damage during their normal replication process even when they are receiving the right nutrition.

But poor nutrition means that cells are unable to fix the damage – if the damage is not fixed it means that permanent damage can be caused to the genome. This genome then goes on to replicate and the result is disease or poor genetic potential.

Our cells are full of building blocks that they obtain through nutrition. But if these blocks are damaged due to poor nutrition, toxic exposure, or high chemical content then the cells continue to build with these damaged blocks.

These damaged blocks then go on to be the base of new cells and the body then continues to build with damaged cells. This can then result in poor health, disease, and less than perfect gene potential being met.

For children, this can happen while they are in the womb through maternal neglect or toxicity.

Can You Make Someone Taller?

The quick answer is that you can not make someone taller than their predetermined genetic potential just by wishing it.

But you can take steps to ensure that a child reaches their full genetic potential with regard to their height. This includes receiving healthy nutrition, being active, avoiding toxic substances, and ensuring good healthcare is received. 

Don’t get me wrong there are some surgeries and extremely painful procedures that can actually alter a person’s height – but this is an extreme reaction and could potentially lead to severe problems in the future.

The Final Thought

Many parents that are of small stature may have already accepted that their children will also be of small stature, but this is not necessarily always the case.

There are extremely high odds that children will take over their parent’s height at least by a few inches, bringing them closer to the national average. This is even more possible given environmental factors such as good nutrition and good healthcare.

As parents, there are definitely steps that we can take to ensure that our children reach their full genetic potential by providing them with the right environmental and nutritional factors. This starts from conception and not from when our children are born.