Are you suddenly asking yourself what in the world happened to your “practically perfect baby?” If out of the blue your baby turns grumpy, demanding, unusually hungry, and starts waking at night when she has been sleeping through…she might be experiencing a growth spurt. Here’s what you need to know about growth spurts so you can recognize the signs and survive the times!
WHAT’S going on during a growth spurt?
An infant growth spurt is simply defined as a rapid rise in your baby’s weight and height. During the first year of life, babies grow more rapidly than at any other point because they will gain three times their birth weight and grow between 8 and 10 inches. And they typically do this growing in bursts or spurts, also known as “frequency days.”
Research also shows that sleep states and growth spurts are linked. Read more about the science behind their connection here.
WHEN can I expect my baby to experience a growth spurt?
Most experts believe these bursts usually occur one at a time, for an average of 2-3 days. Though there are specific times in the first 12 months when baby growth spurts happen, remember that each baby is unique — but mark your calendar anyway!
During your baby’s first year, growth spurts typically occur:
– between 1- 3 weeks
– between 6-8 weeks
– at 3 months
– at 6 months
– at 9 months
WHAT are the most common signs of growth spurts?
Usually these signs are experienced together, but any one sign can be a good indicator of a growth spurt. The most common signs of a growth spurt in your baby are:
*Signs of hunger, after or between feeding times
Signs of hunger = pursing her lips, curling her tongue at the sides, trying to suck on her fingers, throwing her neck back and turning to the side with her mouth open, or arching her back to look for the breast or the bottle.
*Signs of sleepiness at the end of a full nap and/or during playtime
Signs of sleepiness = strong and uncoordinated kicking, yawning, red and bloodshot eyes, slowly closing and opening her eyes, moving her head from side to side, “staring off into space,” or nodding off and on.
*Signs of fussiness or clinginess during feedings, naps, and/or playtime
Signs of fussiness and clinginess = long and loud crying, waking up early from naps by crying, waking during the nighttime stretch of sleep by crying, grumpiness in an otherwise cheerful baby, crying when you stop holding her, or unusual finickiness.
HOW can we all better survive a growth spurt?
Use these 5 techniques to help ease your baby and your family through each of your baby’s growth spurts:
1. Shorten your baby’s schedule by 30 minutes during daytime feeds: Give your baby the extra calories she needs to get through the 48 or so hours of her growth spurt. Example: If your baby is currently feeding on a 2 ½ hour schedule, feed her every 2 hours instead or if she’s on a 3 hour schedule, feed her every 2 ½ hours instead. You get the idea. And adjust back to her normal schedule after a couple of days. This will ensure your baby is getting the extra calories she needs for growth with additional daytime feedings. Make sure to keep track of the new times by continuing to use our scheduling logs.
2. Feed your baby more ounces during the last feed: By using our schedules, your baby will start sleeping for longer stretches during the night (as early as 4 weeks!) — but you can expect those nighttime sleep stretches to suddenly be disturbed by growth spurts. Don’t fret! Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, add more minutes to your breast feeding time or an additional 1-2 ounces of pumped milk or formula at the last feeding because she really needs the extra-extra calories to help her sleep through — we call this a Baby Nightcap!
3. Get help: A hungrier, sleepier, more irritable, and clingier baby may sound a bit overwhelming (!) but getting support from your partner, family, and/or friends can truly help. Ask them to help out with the extra feedings, housework, or work duties and don’t hesitate to ask — especially if you feel you are struggling. After all, growth spurts really are a stressful time for everyone involved!
4. Drink more water: Breastfeeding mothers especially should drink more water to help cope with the increase in demand of your breast milk, and don’t panic if your milk supply doesn’t match your baby’s needs, your supply will adjust to the demand by feeding your baby more often.
5. Sleep Yourself: Try to sleep when your baby sleeps, when you have the chance. This will help to reduce your stress levels and make you more physically and mentally capable of helping your baby through.
COULD it be something other than a growth spurt?
Read Why is My Baby Crying?!?! for help reading the many other crying signs.
COULD it be due to a change?
It’s all about the circumstances…if you have made a noticeable change to your baby’s normal pattern or environment like traveling, moving, having company staying in the house, bringing home a new sibling, etc., this can throw off your baby’s rhythm and cause her to show the above signs. Once the routine is re-established, she should return back to normal and you’ll know it wasn’t a growth spurt after all.
Related Posts: All Our PPB Schedules, Scheduling Logs, Why You Should Use PPB Schedules, How to Become a Practical Parent, Baby’s Nightcap, Overtired Baby, Overstimulated Baby, Burping Basics, Are You Ready for the 1st 3 Weeks?, Baby Blueprint: Year One, Baby Colic, Baby Got Gas?