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Understanding Baby Growth Spurts

A growth spurt is a time in which your child experiences an intense period of growth. During this time, they want to change their sleep patterns, nurse more frequently, and are generally fussier.
  • Published on: 23 Aug 2021
  • 7 min read
Understanding Baby Growth Spurts

When it comes to raising a newborn, you should expect the unexpected - literally! You struggle to have a somehow good sleeping and feeding routine, and just when you finally get the hang of it, your newborn suddenly changes course. They become insomniac, irritable, act ravenous, and outgrow all their newborn outfits overnight. While this can be problematic and confusing for many parents, chances are, this roller coaster ride is your baby's growth spurt.

A growth spurt is a time in which your child experiences an intense period of growth. During this time, they want to change their sleep patterns, nurse more frequently, and are generally fussier. This article will discuss when baby growth spurts happen, signs to look for, and tips on dealing with them.

When do babies have growth spurts?

baby growth spurt

Babies tend to grow most rapidly before their first birthday, which happens in spurts - short, intense bursts of growth. During this period, the baby experiences a rapid increase in inches and pounds, and you may notice their clothes are fitting more snugly.

While every newborn is different, there's a recognized timeline that growth spurts tend to follow:

  • 7 to 10 days after birth
  • 1 to 3 weeks of age
  • 6 to 8 weeks
  • Three months
  • Six months
  • Nine months

Each growth sprint happens pretty quickly - usually about two to three days and sometimes a week. Besides, the timeline outlined above is just general range - your baby can undergo a growth spurt after or before these times.

Signs of Baby Growth Spurts

Not sure whether your newborn is experiencing a growth spurt? Here are some signs you can watch out for:

Change in sleeping habits 

babies sleep

If your baby (once a champion sleeper) is waking up several times in the middle of the night or early from their naps, a growth spurt could be the reason. On the contrary, some babies tend to sleep more than usual when they're experiencing a growth spurt. That can include taking longer naps or sleeping more at night.

Eating frequently

We all know how teenagers have an incredible appetite and how fast they grow. Well, babies are not different when it comes to this area. Growth spurts can cause your child to be insatiable suddenly. That's because growth spurts entail babies using extra calories for their specific growth. This will require that tiny body to find ways to restore the depleted energy stored in the body cells. Consequently, your baby may have an increased appetite to match the demands of the body. Increased feedings will grow and boost your milk supply.

Excessive fussiness

This can be a tricky one since a baby will fuss over different reasons, including being hurt, sick, cold, hot, teething, or dirty - to name a few. So, pay attention to the baby's mannerisms to rule out these reasons. Typically, a child will be excessively grouchy during a growth spurt because of disturbed sleep patterns and increased hunger.

New tricks

babies have growth spurts

It's vital to note that growth spurts aren't only about increasing body size. They can lead to learning a new skill. The newborn may not roll over immediately after the first growth spurt. But by the third to fifth spurts, your little one can learn new tricks such as rolling over, grasping a toy, crawling, and sitting up.

Besides noticing the above signs in your baby, your body can also signal that your little one is going through a growth spurt. Many breastfeeding moms say that they feel more thirsty and hungry than usual. This requires a mother to eat and hydrate some more to accommodate the frequent nursing sessions.

When to Worry - Could It Be Something Else?

You might be having a nagging worry that your child doesn't grow as they should, or she's not getting enough to eat, probably because you suspect that your milk production is low. Well, this is a common concern for many mothers. However, there are things that tell you that your baby's health is in check, such as your little one's diaper count. Remember that what your baby eats must come out.

When your child is five days old, they should soak at least five to six diapers every day. After day five, your child can have three to four stools every day (although some babies are less frequent).

Nonetheless, be keen not to confuse health problems with growth spurts. A fussy or overly sleepy child could be a sign of illness; a baby pooping more frequently than usual could be having diarrhea, and a constantly hungry baby could indicate a low milk supply.

Another thing that will let you know that your baby is achieving the milestone of growth is their weight. You can schedule regular visits (there are plenty of checkups during the first 18 months) to their healthcare provider to ensure that the numbers on the scale are going up. Your child's pediatrician will also track and measure their height and length during the checkup and look for trends and patterns. If a child's growth veers sharply from their curve, it could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as a disease or an illness.

Tips for Surviving Babies' Growth Spurts

Since growth spurts can result in more feeding, less sleeping, and lots of grouchiness, they can be exhausting for the new parents. You can try out these tips to survive or even thrive during growth spurts.

Feeding

baby feeding

The general rule of thumb is to feed your baby when they're hungry. This allows your body to adjust to the baby's changing needs. If the baby is bottle-fed, you should increase the amount of formula gradually.

Please note: Be careful not to overfeed. If you notice they're spitting up more than usual, they might be getting too much. Overfeeding may also cause digestive issues like diarrhea and gas. To avoid such issues, feed the infant smaller portions more often than larger ones less frequently.

Help the baby sleep

During growth spurts, the baby might need all the help to fall and stay asleep. You can help by keeping the nursery conducive to sleep. Keep the temperature cool in your baby's room and the house quiet. Also, try to stick to a sleeping routine to offer stability during these crazy few days.

Pay attention to the overall health of your baby

Since infants cannot tell you how they're feeling, it can be challenging to know for sure when things aren't right. So, ensure that you pay attention to the child7s patterns and mannerisms. If your newborn shows signs of rash, fever, or dehydration, ensure that you speak to your pediatrician.

Be patient

Imagine you had to double your weight in three months, think about how much you'd have to eat and how uncomfortable you'd be. So be patient and offer soothing and extra cuddles. When the little one is fussy, try bathing, singing, rocking, skin-to-skin, or whatever your baby enjoys.

Take Care of Yourself

every baby development

Your newborn relies solely on you for food and comfort. Hence, growth spurts affect you as much as they do your baby. You need to take care of yourself by:

Staying hydrated: If you're a breastfeeding mom, you should aim to drink a glass of water after every feeding session to increase your milk supply. You can also drink herbal tea or eat veggies and fruits with high water content, such as cucumbers and watermelon.

Calling in for backup: Growth spurts can be exhausting for you too. So, you can call in back-up for things like cooking and household chores. Let others care for the baby as you take a break.

Taking care of your breasts: Frequent feeding sessions can trigger uncomfortable breast engorgement. You can care for breasts through hand-expressing the milk or breast-pumping. You can also try nipple creams that moisturize and protects nipples to ease the discomfort or pain.

Avoid comparing: All babies grow at different paces, and thus you shouldn't compare your little one's size to another of the same age. As long as everything is good at their wellness visits, there's no need to be concerned. Notice that your baby will have wellness visits at one week, one month, two months, four months, six weeks, nine months, and 12 months - typically growth spurts will occur around these milestones wellness checkups.

How Long Do Baby Growth Spurts Last?

babies have growth spurts

The duration in which growth spurts last vary, and some doctors say that you can't put a timeline on it. However, the good news is that it doesn't last long. Your baby will undergo frequent growth spurts throughout their infant and toddlerhood, but this phase is often short-lived. In most cases, it doesn't last longer than three to four days at a time, although it can stretch up to a week for some children. If you're not keen enough, you might not notice that your baby is undergoing a growth spurt until it's over, and you be more surprised to realize your baby's clothes don't fit anymore. Babies get back to their normal eating and sleeping habits as soon as the growth spurt subsides.

The Takeaway

Before you even know it, your infant will be a toddler. But, to get there, there'll be a lot of growth spurts, and it won't be easy. luckily, the newborn has you there to keep them fed, love them through these challenges, and celebrate their outstanding growth.


Sara Gale

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale

Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.

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