Growth Spurts in Infants

Growth Spurts in Infants

After having followed pattern for sleeping and feeding your baby for a few weeks, there is a sudden change in your baby’s feeding requirements. Your baby wants to feed more often and sleep longer. This may quite obviously alter your regular pattern, but there is nothing to worry about. Your baby’s requirements see a sudden shift because he or she is going through a growth spurt.

Most breastfeeding mothers, during this phase, are worried that they aren’t producing enough milk for the baby. However, this may not necessarily be true. Unless you are not able to provide enough milk to keep your baby satisfied, there is nothing to worry about.

Video: Growth Spurts in Babies – Signs & Tips to Deal with It

What is a Growth Spurt in a Baby?

Your baby will grow about three times the birth size by the time it’s his or her first birthday. This usually does not happen gradually, but rather at specific intervals, almost over a couple of days. This duration when the baby is going through rapid growth is called a ‘growth spurt’. Babies tend to go through rapid growth during these growth spurts and can grow about 1cm in a day.

When do Infants have Growth Spurts?

A newborn baby’s growth spurts happen in the first year, first usually during the 2nd week and subsequently during the 3rd, 6th and 9th weeks. These are followed by growth spurts during the 3rd, 6th and the 9th months.

However, it is not necessary that all babies follow this pattern. Premature kids also may have a different growth pattern, due to a difference in their gestation period.

How Long do Baby Growth Spurts Last?

Each growth spurt in babies lasts only for a few days. When they are younger, the growth spurt can last a day, and as they grow older, they may last a little longer, for several days, sometimes up to a week.

What Happens during Growth Spurts?

What happens during Growth Spurts

During a growth spurt your baby’s weight, height, and head circumference increases. It is possible that your baby outgrows his or her clothes almost overnight. Your baby may also be irritable and fussy during this period.

Is There a Difference Between Growth Spurts and Feeding Spurts?

Although both growth spurts and feeding spurts make your baby demand more feed, they are not necessarily the same. Feeding spurt is when your baby is hungrier than usual and does not constitute a rapid growth within a few days.

Signs of Growth Spurts in Infants

Your baby may show the following signs if he or she is going through a growth spurt.

1. Increase in Appetite

Immediately before and after the growth spurt, your baby may seem more hungry than usual. For a breastfed baby, growth spurts can mean longer breastfeeding sessions and shorter intervals between feeds each day. A formula fed baby may seem hungry even after a feeding. Ensure that you satiate your baby’s hungry with extra feed during this time as their growing bodies demand more food.

2. Changed Sleep Patterns

During a growth spurt, your child will be sleeping more than usual or have a different sleeping pattern. This is mostly because a good duration of sleep is necessary to facilitate growth as most of the growing happens during sleep. While your baby is sleeping, the brain signals the pituitary gland to produce HGH or the Human Growth Hormone, which is responsible for growth in infants and children.

Baby waking up more often at night

Studies show that a baby may sleep for four to four and a half hours longer than usual during a growth spurt. However, some babies may also seem to sleep less or take shorter naps. They may also be waking up more often at night.

3. Behavioural Changes

Certain changes in your baby’s behaviour like irritability or clinginess may also be noticed during a growth spurt. He or she may want to be held all the time or seems unsettled and cries at quite often.

Although it has not been found out why these changes take place, most experts have suggested that it may be because of all the energy that your baby needs to put into feeding and to grow, which may make him or her tired and be overwhelming to bear.

It is also believed that your baby may see a developmental leap, which means that he or she may learn a new skill like crawling, rolling over or smiling during this period. This may happen during a growth spurt or can come about at any other time as well.

Tips to Deal with Infant Growth Spurts

Mother consulting with doctor

Growth spurts in a baby can be exhausting for mothers as well, especially so if you are breastfeeding your baby. Hence, it may be useful to keep a few tips in mind during this phase.

  • Drink plenty of water. Your baby will necessary be draining you of your fluids. To keep your baby well-fed, you need to be replenished well.
  • Your breasts produce milk based on a demand-supply equation. If your baby is breastfeeding more, you will be producing more milk. So, it may be wise to not supplement a breastfeeding baby with formula to ensure continued supply of milk.
  • Your baby will want to feed very often and stay close to you all the time. At this point, you can consider using a sling to carry your baby around.
  • Your body will take a day or two to meet up to your baby’s feeding needs, in case you don’t produce enough milk for over a week, then it is wise to consult a doctor, as it may be due to low milk supply.
  • Eat and drink at regular intervals and if possible get to help you around with your chores around the house. Your body may get exhausted due to a frequent feeding pattern.

How to Tell if your Baby’s Growth is on Track?

You may want to get your hands on a baby growth chart that shows the ideal measurements for a baby at different weeks or months. The chart indicates measurements of the length, weight and the head circumference of your baby at different times during the growth.

Growth spurts can be overwhelming for mothers, but with the right care and support, you will be able to sail through this too. Also, growth spurts last for only a few days so that you can go back to your regular schedule soon enough.

Also Read: Growth Spurts in Toddlers