Just when you think your baby has some sort of natural pattern of sleeping, waking, and eating – you may find yourself exhausted by a feeding marathon, or, more blissfully, you may find he has slept extra hours during the last day or so. Why the sudden break of patterns? Your baby may be undergoing an infant growth spurts!
Infant Growth Spurts, What does it mean? What to do?
While you should track a newborn’s patterns more closely with an infant growth spurts chart, to ensure that he is not getting dehydrated or otherwise in need of urgent care, sleeping an extra hour or two more before the next feeding may be just what your baby needs to grow and it is one on our infant growth spurts symptoms. (Of course, if your baby seems lethargic, or you are otherwise concerned, consult your doctor immediately. Also, unlike teething, a fever does not normally accompany a growth spurt, so this would be a clue that something else is going on.)
Infant growth spurts occur about 5 or 6 times before baby’s first birthday, and each growth spurt lasts a couple of days. Somewhere between 10 days and two weeks, the first one will occur. Other growth spurts occur around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months – but you will definitely recognize a growth spurt by your baby’s changes in behavior, even if he is on his own unique schedule.
Sometimes, in between growth spurts, your baby may feed more frequently for a day or two, without much noticeable gain – and these are called feeding spurts. But with a growth spurt, your baby may appear to outgrow her clothes and diapers overnight. Growth spurts usually have a period of eating more, and a period of changed sleep patterns. Other signs include restlessness, particularly clingy behavior, and dissatisfaction after feedings.
During sleep, the body produces a special hormone that helps babies grow. This hormone is simply called the human growth hormone (HGH). Your baby needs food and rest to grow – if you are wondering what you can do during a growth spurt to help your baby, follow her natural cues, and allow her to sleep when she needs to sleep, and eat when she is hungry. By the first growth spurt, you’ll probably know her feeding cues; if you’re thinking, you can’t possibly be hungry still / again, you may just be surprised! It won’t last for forever, though.
Especially if you are breastfeeding, the first few growth spurts can be extremely taxing physically for a mother and can lead to exhaustion both emotionally and physically for the new mom who tries to do everything herself. Allow yourself some grace! You’re still figuring all of this out, and it is perfectly normal to ask others around you to help out by giving you a break or taking care of a few tasks. You may also need more fluids, an extra snack, and to take advantage of napping while your baby is sleeping. Don’t be afraid to guard your time and communicate your needs.
How much does a baby grow in the first month/year?
You might be wondering exactly how much your baby might grow in first year of her life. Although each child will grow at her own rate, she could increase in length about 10 inches, and gain up to 3 times her birth weight. Growth charts are a tool used to track your child’s development, so that any issues can be addressed in a timely manner. Your child’s development, even during a growth spurt, should fairly closely follow a particular line, or percentile. A percentile tells you how your child measures compared to 100 other children his age. If you told 100 children to line up tallest to shortest, and your child was at the 45th percentile, then he would stand right after kid number 45 – he would be taller than 45 kids, and shorter than 55. Usually, length, weight, and head circumference are measured for infants. BMI is not used until the child is over 2 years of age.
Some breastfeeding mothers become worried that their supply is too low, and attribute their baby’s fussiness, associated with growth spurts, to their baby’s not getting enough milk. If this is your case, know that supplementing can actually interfere with your supply. To further relieve your fear of not making enough milk, keep in mind that more frequent feedings will actually increase your supply, as your body is being told to make more milk, more often.
If you’re newborn baby is fussy after a feeding, try swaddling her, and putting her in a swing, or, for any age, wearing her. Some babies will want to suck on something to soothe themselves, as well. If she calms down, she probably got enough to eat; hunger would overpower these soothing methods. Another good test that may be an option is to go for a walk with your baby after a feeding if she is particularly fussy. If she falls asleep, she was satisfied – and you get the benefit of a little fresh air and exercise.
Wearing your baby during a growth spurt may allow you to nurse more frequently while still being free to take care of yourself, if helping hands are limited, or you have multiple young children. This also keeps your baby feeling secure and reassured if they are not sleeping well during this part of the growth spurt.
Of course, another reassuring fact is if your baby is producing enough wet and soiled diapers, then he is getting enough milk. (Four or more bowel movements and six or more wet per 24 hours is normal for a breastfed baby.) During a growth spurt, you will most likely see more diapers than your baby’s average, as more milk is going through his system, whether formula fed or breastfed. It is potentially helpful to track feedings, diaper changings, etc. on a chart. There are several printable ones available online, as well as apps for smart phones that you may download for free.
Infant growth spurts our conclusion
Growth spurts can be a trying period of time for parents, but armed with information, patience, and most importantly – love – these time periods will pass, and your healthy baby will be him- or herself again!
For more video tutorials regarding infant milestones during the 0-3 month age range please click here, or 3-6 month age range please click here.
Which infant growth spurts did you observed in your baby? How did you handle these times? We will be happy to hear from you…