Baby Growth Spurts

growth spurts__1452884751_50.243.196.179They say babies grow up so fast.  Sometimes that is literally the case.  Your baby will have five major growth spurts during her first year of life when she may, indeed, grow by inches and pounds overnight.  Baby growth spurts can catch new parents off guard because they are not expecting sudden changes in their baby’s behavior, feeding patterns and wardrobe.  However, growth spurts are a sign that your baby is developing appropriately.

Baby growth spurts tend to come at five specific times during the first year:  at around 7 to 10 days of life, between 3 and 6 weeks, and then again at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.  You can expect your baby to triple in birth weight by the end of her first year.  Baby growth spurts usually last two or three days although for some babies they may trudge on for an entire week.  Here are common signs of baby growth spurts:

  • Your baby is voraciously hungry and wants to feed as often as every hour
  • Your baby sleeps more during the day and night OR your baby is up often in the night (usually because she is hungry).
  • Your baby is cranky for no apparent reason.
  • Your baby suddenly doesn’t fit into clothes that she wore just a few days prior.
  • Your baby noticeably gets longer or heavier.

When your baby hits a growth spurt, it may cause chaos in your household.  Just when you thought you had the hang of everything – breastfeeding at predictable times, sleeping for longer stretches, etc… – things change.  Don’t worry, it is only temporary and you will most likely get back to normalcy within a week.

During baby growth spurts, it’s important to support your baby’s needs.  First and foremost, feed her more often if she seems hungry and is “begging” for more milk.  It is best to breastfeed on demand during baby growth spurts so your baby can let you know how much she needs and when she needs it.  New moms often fear they are not producing enough milk during growth spurts but if you are still changing at least five wet diapers daily and your baby is growing consistently, your milk supply is just fine and there should be no reason to supplement.

Also, allow your baby to sleep when she is tired during growth spurts.  This may interrupt her usual nap schedule, but if she needs the sleep, don’t deprive her of it.  Baby growth spurts may also interfere with your own sleep patterns if your baby is more wakeful and feeding more at night.  Solicit help with other household tasks and with older children during these critical periods for your baby so you can get the rest you need and pay your baby the attention she warrants.

Remember that you are not only nurturing your baby’s growing body, but also her growing brain.  There are times when you may suspect your baby has hit a growth spurt but she doesn’t seem to be getting physically bigger.  This may be a sign of mental growth, when your baby is working on a new skill and needs more nourishment and nurturing to achieve her goal.  Look out for signs of new milestones during these times.

Baby growth spurts are an exciting and essential part of your baby’s growth and development.  Children grow so fast – especially during the first year.  Soak it up and enjoy the ride while it lasts.