Growth spurts are periods where your baby experiences a sudden increase in growth rate, often linked to increased feeding. Both breastfed and bottle-fed babies undergo growth spurts, and there are no definite time for growth spurts. Growth spurts last from a few days to a week, and can happen at 2 to 3 week, 4 to 6 week, 3 month, 4 month, 6 month and 9 month.
However, the timing of growth spurts vary and can therefore come unexpected. At times, growth spurts may disrupt your baby’s routine, as they frequently change the feeding and sleep patterns of your baby.
Here are four signs that your baby is experiencing a growth spurt!
#1 Your baby is hungry all the time
You may be following the baby’s routine that you have (finally) figured out; however, just as you thought that you have it figured out, your baby starts to feed longer or wants to be fed more frequently. If you are breastfeeding, your body will adjust to meet the demands of your baby. If you are bottle-feeding, try giving your baby slightly more at each feed or shorten the gap between feeding time.
#2 Your baby is cranky (or crankier than usual!)
Your baby may get crankier and act fussier than usual, mostly as he copes with hunger and growth. Some babies may also get more clingy, so holding your baby more often may help.
#3 Your baby is sleeping more (or less!)
Your baby may be sleeping longer as his body needs sleep to grow. During sleep, a hormone known as the human growth hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland and spurs growth. On the other hand, your baby may be more fussy and irritable as he is hungry and his night sleep may be disrupted. To help your baby sleep better at night, you can try to engage him in more activities during the day. Never force your baby to be awake, or wake him up when he is asleep.
#4 Your baby gains weight rapidly
Your baby gains weight and grows taller! You can weigh your baby monthly to see if he is growing well, and consults the pediatrician if your baby’s weight is persistently not within the normal range.
How can you meet your baby’s milk demand?
If you are bottle-feeding, it is more straight forward as you have to prepare more milk feeds. However, if you are breastfeeding, you can monitor your baby’s growth and prepare by expressing more milk for storage. You also have to take care of yourself by drinking enough fluids, eating well and resting. Rest is important for you, as well as your baby. Do not wake yourself or your baby up for feeding if he is sleeping well. This is especially true for night time as more growth hormones are released at night. Seek help with non-feeding chores, and also consider having your spouse or caregiver give your baby the expressed milk in a bottle.
What? It’s not a growth spurt after all?
While growth spurts are a likely reason for the change in feeding and sleep patterns, do not rule out other reasons. For instance, crankiness after one year old is much less likely to be attributed to growth spurt. Growth spurts usually do not last longer than a week, and therefore you should watch out for any discomfort or fussiness that last beyond a week. There are many varied reasons why babies may get cranky or not sleep well – from a change in his environment, the people caring for him to his own health conditions. Should the emotional and physical changes persist and do not appear to be transient, do speak with the pediatrician.