Growth Spurts in Infants

Growth Spurts in Infants

After having followed a pattern for sleeping and feeding your baby for a few weeks, you may notice that there is a sudden change in your baby’s feeding requirements. Your baby may want to feed more often and sleep for longer periods of time. This may quite obviously alter your regular patterns, but there is nothing to worry about. Your baby’s requirements are seeing a sudden shift because he’s going through a growth spurt.

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 his size at birth by the time it’s his 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 at a rate of about one centimetre per day.

When Do Infants Have Growth Spurts?

A newborn’s growth spurts happen in the first year, starting around about the 2nd week and subsequently during the 3rd6th and 9th weeks. These are followed by growth spurts at three, six, and nine months of age. However, it is not necessary that all babies follow this pattern, especially in the case of premature babies who may be developing differently than their peers anyway.

How Long Do Growth Spurts Last?

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

What Happens During Growth Spurts?

What Happens During Growth Spurts?

During a growth spurt, your baby’s weight, height, and circumference of his head increases. It is possible that your baby outgrows his 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 can make your baby demand more food, they are not necessarily the same. A feeding spurt is when your baby is hungrier than usual, and it does not constitute rapid growth within a few days.

Signs of Growth Spurts in Infants

Your baby may show the following signs if he 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 session. Ensure that you satiate your baby’s hunger with frequent or long feeding sessions during this time as his growing body will demand more food.

2. Change in 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. 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.

Change in Sleep Patterns

Studies show that a baby may sleep up to four and a half hours more than usual. However, some babies 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 neediness, may also be noticed during a growth spurt. He may want to be held all the time or may seem unsettled and cry 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 tired and may be overwhelming for his little self to bear.

It is also believed that your baby may see a developmental leap, which means that he 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

Tips to Deal with Infant Growth Spurts

If your baby is going through a growth spurt, it can be exhausting for you as well, especially 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’s breast milk needs might be draining your body of fluids! To keep your baby well-fed, you need to be well-hydrated too.
  • Your breasts produce milk based on a demand and supply equation.
  • If your baby is breastfeeding more, you will be producing more milk.
  • So, it may be wise not to supplement your baby’s breast milk with formula,to ensure a 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 match 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 help for chores around the house. Your body may get exhausted due to a frequent feeding pattern.

Your baby’s behaviour and changes in feeding and sleeping patterns can confuse you, and it’s also easy to mistake these signs for a growth spurt, while they may be actually indicating something else. Changes in a baby’s routine or environment, teething, and minor illnesses can also contribute to a sudden change in your baby’s behaviour or regular patterns. If you see that your baby is extremely irritated, restless, and seems to go on this way for a while, it’s best that you consult a doctor to rule out any problems.

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 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 you will be able to go back to your regular schedule soon enough.

Also Read: Growth Spurts in Toddlers