Staying On Track: Your Guide To Baby’s Growth Spurts
It’s not just you being sentimental about passing time - your baby is actually going through many, many growth spurts over the first several years of life! Babies grow rapidly from birth into toddlerhood, and it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s unique cues about whether she’s experiencing a growth spurt and whether she is developing at a proper rate.
During the first year of your baby’s life, he’ll grow like a weed right before your eyes. Research shows that on average, babies grow about half an inch to an inch every month between birth and 6 months. Your baby will also gain about 5-7 ounces each week during this period of time! By the time your baby’s half birthday rolls around, he will be about double his birth weight, and by his first birthday, he’ll be able triple his birth weight. There is no other period of life in which such rapid growth occurs - so enjoy those tiny newborn snuggles while you can, because before you know it, you’ll have a walking, talking toddler!
Although your baby is always growing, the term “growth spurts” refers to those specific periods of time when your little one experiences a sudden, temporary, rapid rate of growth and development. Some babies grow taller before they pack on the pounds, while others put on weight before they increase in height. Growth spurts tend to occur at standard times for most babies, so you can expect your baby to go through growth spurts at several specific points in time.
How do I know if my baby is going through a growth spurt? If your baby is suddenly ravenously hungry, nursing much more often than usual (called cluster feeding), more fussy, more sleepy, wakes frequently at night, and just generally “not themselves,” your baby is probably going through a growth spurt. Growing that fast is hard work for your little one, so expect some difficult changes in temperament as your baby navigates the growth spurt.
How long do growth spurts typically last? Growth spurts usually only last for a few days, sometimes even just one day! Some can last a little longer, depending on your child.
When do growth spurts typically occur?
- 7-14 days after birth
- Between 3 and 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
Babies who are in a growth spurt might suddenly change their behavior or personality. Your baby will most likely be very hungry and seem insatiable, no matter how much you feed her. If you’re breastfeeding, just continue to nurse on demand, as your baby is stimulating your supply to increase by this frequent feeding. If you bottle feed breastmilk or formula, try increasing the amount of milk your baby gets at each feeding.
Your baby might also act a lot fussier and not sleep as well. Even if your baby has previously slept through the night, he might wake hourly during growth spurts. Babies might become restless, fussy sleepers or wake often to eat. Your baby will probably act fussier in general because of the disruption in sleep, so be sure to allow your baby to nap often and catch up on rest during the day. Your baby might also want to be held more often and might cry when he senses you’re away. Babywearing can be helpful during these periods!
What can I do to make growth spurts easier on my baby (and me)? As much as possible, parents should resist feeding a baby who is extra cranky and fussy due to a growth spurt. Don’t run to make a bottle every time your little one wakes up at night. During the day, you can feed your baby often, but at night, it’s important to continue to teach your little one to self-soothe and try to go back to sleep on their own. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, you can continue to nurse on demand, so your milk supply will increase to meet your baby’s changing needs. If your baby wakes frequently during the night, try soothing your baby with a clean diaper, rocking and singing, or swaddling. Always check for hunger cues before offering a bottle or the breast. Although it’s difficult, try to have patience with your little one - it must be hard to grow so rapidly in such a short amount of time! Rely on another caregiver to give you a break when you need one, too. And remember, the housework can wait.
How do I know if my baby’s growth is normal? Your child’s pediatrician will give you the best overall picture of your child’s health and development, but if your baby has a substantial amount of wet diapers and seems to be getting heavier over time, chances are your baby is right on track. Your child’s pediatrician will measure her height and weight at each checkup, and mark her development along a growth curve to make sure your baby is continuing along the same track. If you have any concerns about your baby’s growth, be sure to contact the pediatrician for an evaluation.
Growth spurts can be difficult to manage, but thankfully, they’re only temporary, and a clear sign that your baby is growing well!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.