Growth Spurts: When Do They Happen?
Ever find yourself saying, “It’s as if he grew overnight” or “She’s feeding all the time and just can’t seem to stop.” Well, he probably did grow overnight and there is a reason she’s feeding all the time.
How many growth spurts will my baby have?
During the first year, your baby will triple his body weight and will have grown eight to ten inches. Your baby’s head will also grow faster during the first four months than at any other time in his life. As you’ve probably noticed, or heard from mothers before you, all this growth happens in short bursts, which can last two or three days. Unfortunately for you, you’ve probably just happily settled into a feeding, waking, sleeping rhythm just in time for your baby to experience a growth spurt.
And not only are there physical growth spurts, but Vanderijt and Plooij in their book “The Wonder Weeks” say that there are also neurological growth spurts. If you think about it, this makes sense. Your baby is not only growing and learning physically, but also developing his/her senses and motor skills and awareness of colors and sounds and tastes. These happen around 5, 8, 12, 15, 23, 34, 42 and 51 weeks.
Physically, your baby will have five growth spurts during his first year: usually between one and three weeks, between six and eight weeks, at three months, six months and nine months. One doctor has reported seeing babies grain one to three ounces and grow almost a centimeter in 24 hours.
What are the signs of a growth spurt?
You will begin to notice the following signs that usually indicate a growth spurt is coming:
1) Increased feeding – Whether breastfeeding or formula feeding, expect that your baby will want to feed more often. Some infants have been known to nurse 15 or 16 times a day. Formula-fed babies will also want to eat more.
2) More wakeful at night – You may find your baby waking up more during the night to feed, or an older child might wake up earlier from a nap. Lack of sleep will contribute to moodiness for both mom and baby.
3) Sleeping longer – After this feeding frenzy, you may find that your baby may sleep longer and more soundly than usual. Research has shown that the body releases 80% of growth hormones are released during sleep.
How to Cope with Growth Spurts
1) Go with the flow #1 – Don’t worry about your milk production and don’t give up breastfeeding now. She’s not demanding more food because she’s not getting enough from you; she just needs more of what you offer, more often. Shorter breastfeeding bursts actually stimulate milk production better than longer, infrequent feedings. (Kathy Lebbing, La Leche League International via Parents.com) Regardless of whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed your baby needs calories to grow. Feed her as much and as often as she demands.
2) Go with the flow #2 – “Never force a baby to stay awake or adhere to her normal sleep schedule—you’ll only make her cranky.” (Joan DiMartino-Nardi, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, the Bronx, NY via Parents.com) It can be really tempting to try to wrench a baby back into a “normal” sleep cycle or habit, but this goes completely against what his body is telling him and what his body needs to cope with the growth. On average a baby will sleep 4.5 hours more over the course of the day during a growth spurt, and there is a physiological reason why she needs so much sleep. A study out in May 2011 reported that according to sleep records obtained for 23 newborns, “the chances of a growth spurt increased by a median of 43% for each nap and…increased by 20% for each additional hour of sleep…and the [g]rowth hormone is produced during the deeper stages of sleep.”
Take heart that these growth spurts only last a couple of days, and know that you’re not crazy if your baby seems to outgrow clothes between laundry loads.
As a precaution—to make sure that it is “just a growth spurt” and not something else—keep monitoring weight gain and soiled diapers. As long as your baby is gaining weight and needing five or six diaper changes a day, he’s doing fine.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Baby Growth Spurts. Whattoexpect.com. Web. June 28, 2012.
Grow Baby Grow. Ogden, Clara. Parents.com. Web. June 28, 2012.
The Wonder of Growth Spurts. Barefoot Mother. Web. June 28, 2012.
Study Shows Link Between Amount of Sleep and Growth in Babies. Mann, Denise. WebMD. Web. June 28, 2012.
Feeding Your Infant: Ages 0 to 4 Months.
Eating solid foods early doesn’t affect baby growth.
Premature Babies and Developmental Delays. Smith, Jody.