Signs your baby is having a growth spurt

Just when you feel like you’re finally getting the hang of a somewhat reasonable feeding rhythm, your newborn suddenly wants to mix things up and begin feeding every hour. You might have even noticed that your baby appeared to fit that sweet little onesie one day, but is bursting at the seams the next. But, don’t worry, it’s not your sleep-deprived eyes playing tricks on you. Your baby is probably going through a growth spurt.

Incredibly, your baby will most likely triple their birth weight by their first birthday, but their growth won’t happen at a smooth and steady rate. A lot of it occurs in short, intense bursts. They can even sprout as much as 9 mm in one day, so your baby could literally outgrow their onesies overnight!

Although growth spurts can happen anytime during the first year, your baby will most likely have their initial spurt between 1 and 3 weeks, and then another between 6 and 8 weeks. After that, you can expect them to happen at 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months.

Growth spurts aren’t just about their little bodies growing; there’s also a lot of brain and developmental growth going on, so the signs that your baby is going through a growth spurt are much more than simply hunger. Wondering if your little one is in the midst of one? Here’s what you might notice.

Signs your baby is having a growth spurt

1. Your baby wants to feed more

If your baby was eating every 3 hours, but suddenly wants to feed every 2 hours or even every hour, this cluster feeding is normal. If you’re breastfeeding, feeds may take longer, but the more your baby feeds, the more your milk supply is stimulated to keep up with their growing appetites. If your baby is formula-fed, they may still seem hungry at the end of a bottle. Older babies might want to increase their feeds, and also up their intake of solids.

2. Your baby wants to sleep more…or less!

Just before and during a growth spurt, your baby may be sleepier than usual. It makes sense that your baby would sleep more: growing takes a lot of energy! Research has shown that that our bodies produce growth hormone when we sleep, which is essential for growth. But, on the flipside, you might also be finding that your baby is waking more at night for feeds, or taking shorter naps. It’s a baby’s job to keep you on your toes like that!

3. Your baby is cranky and clingy

You might find that your baby wants to be held all the time, and then cries when you put them down. He or she might be fussing at the breast because that milk can’t come fast enough! Plus, all of those disrupted nights don’t help with their moods. If your baby is usually relatively calm and laid-back, and is suddenly unsettled, it could also be a sign that a developmental leap is coming. This means that your baby may be ready to reveal a new skill they’ve been working on, such as rolling or sitting.

How long do growth spurts last?

In young babies, they usually last for a day or two, and for older babies, they can last up to a week before things settle back down to normal again.

How to deal with your baby’s growth spurts

Growth spurts can make life as a parent even more exhausting, frustrating, confusing, and possibly make you second-guess everything you’re doing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that a growth spurt is normal and temporary. Here are some ways to help you cope during this period:

  • If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Ask friends or family members for help, or just to be there to support you.
  • Respond to your baby’s cues, whether it’s extra feeds, cuddles, quiet time, or sleep.
  • You might think you haven’t got enough milk, but your baby is working hard to build up your supply. Don’t be tempted to stop breastfeeding, or ‘top up’ with formula as it could reduce your supply.
  • You might be tempted to start your baby on solids, but it’s recommended that you wait until they’re 6 months old (but you should discuss this with your maternal and child health nurse if you’d like to start solids earlier).
  • If your baby is formula-fed and they seem hungry after a feed, it’s okay to offer some more milk. There’s no need to change brands or to a ‘second stage milk’ unless you’ve been advised by your nurse or GP.
  • Take care of yourself by eating regular meals, and asking for help so you can (try to) sleep.
  • Lots of cuddles and reassurance will help!



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