Are you noticing changes in your baby’s eating, sleeping, and mood patterns? It seems that your little one is growing and changing rapidly! Infants’ growth appears to be exceptionally fast during their first year of life and sometimes, everything looks as though you’re on a roller coaster ride. In line with this, have you heard about a baby growth spurt? What do you think is a growth spurt?
Just when you feel like you’re having a regular feeding and sleeping routine with your baby, your newborn can sometimes suddenly change course.
He clamors for food most of the time and acts as if he’s insatiable even when he’s done. He becomes so irritable and an insomniac at times.
Then just as quickly, everything seems to be back to normal. Did someone give you a heads-up regarding these changes? Are you up for this roller-coaster ride to baby growth spurts? But what is a growth spurt in babies? Do toddlers also experience a growth spurt?
What happens during a baby’s growth spurt? When does this happen? And how will you know if your child is experiencing its signs? Read more to know everything about baby growth spurt and be equipped in dealing with these changes.
Baby growth spurt meaning
Let’s begin by knowing what a growth spurt really means.
To give answers to all our questions above, let’s begin by knowing the meaning of a baby growth spurt.
A growth spurt means a time during which a baby experiences short bursts of a rapid increase in height and weight. Babies tend to gain triple their birth weight and increase an average of 10 inches (25 centimeters) in height.
Before infants undergo a growth spurt, it is noticeable that they are slowly gaining weight and eventually, this shoots up after growth spurt.
During this short period of time of intense and rapid growth, it is noticeable that your baby really did outgrow all his newborn outfits over the night. You are not imagining things, moms and dads! It is normal during this phase.
When do baby growth spurts happen?
These developmental leaps, or baby growth spurts, occur with relative frequency according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For instance, most young babies experience growth spurts every few weeks, or months.
But take note that every child is different. Clare Bush, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center says that it is impossible to say if or when these growth spurts will occur.
Baby growth spurts may happen at any time during his or her first year. Even so, some experts believe that baby growth spurts are more likely to occur at certain points such as:
- 1 to 3 weeks
- 6 to 8 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
Baby growth spurt signs
Here are the most common signs of a baby growth spurt:
1. Your baby is hungry more often
“Everything is revved up in the first year of life. The metabolism is quick, the frequency of needing feeds is quick,” says Dr. Joshua May, a pediatric endocrinologist at Los Angeles Medical Center at Kaiser Permanente.
“Those calories are going toward growth, whether it be building reserves of fat cells or building muscle or—with the help of hormones—actually physically changing the structure of bones.”
During your baby’s growth spurt, you might notice that he’s turning into an insatiable creature—wanting to be fed around the clock. He may show signs of increased hunger by appearing restless, crying a lot, sucking on his hands, or sticking out his tongue.
For breastfed infants, this could mean nursing him more often, up to 18 times in 24 hours. For babies who are formula-fed, he might ask for another bottle after finishing one.
From nursing him eight times a day, he may now go for 12 to 14 times a day. Older babies will also want to be nursed more and increase their intake of solid foods if they are eating such.
Image from Shutterstock
2. Your baby’s sleeping pattern change
Sleep has an important role in the production of growth hormones. Before and during baby growth spurt, you will notice that he sleeps more than usual.
It’s a sign that your baby channels his energy into growing. Although some parents claim that their babies wake up more often at night, wake up earlier, or have a shorter nap time. This may be due to the fact that infants are hungrier more often during this period and are waking up clamoring for food.
These changes might wear you out especially when your child sleeps less but cheer up! Baby growth spurt typically lasts for a few days. Your baby’s sleeping pattern will be back to normal.
3. Your baby becomes unusually cranky
You may find your little one clingier and more restless than usual. Your baby wants to be held most of the time and cries, getting cranky when you put him down.
Sometimes, you might find him unsettled and fussy when normally he’s calm and relaxed. There’s no clear cause for these changes in your baby’s behavior.
We can only assume that this might be due to their changing sleeping pattern, increased hunger, or growing pains. Dr. Joshua May explained that tendons and muscles are being stretched in the body and that might be associated with some pain.
How to deal with baby growth spurts
So now you think that your child might be going through a baby growth spurt—now what?
Feed your baby whenever he’s hungry
During this phase in your baby’s growth, make sure that he’s getting enough nourishment to support his overall development. Nurse your newborn more often if he’s breastfed.
Frequent feedings will help you stimulate more milk supply. If your child is formula-fed, give him an extra ounce or two of formula to his bottles. It’s also fine to give him an extra bottle if he wants more.
Soothing your baby with food most of the time might lead to overfeeding. Avoid this possibility by looking for hunger cues before giving another bottle or offering your breast.
See if your child likes to root around for a breast or bottle. If he is turning his head away from the bottle or breast, take it as if he’s done and full.
Image from Pexels
Keep the lights low and still try your best to build a routine before bedtime. These things can help you establish a good sleeping environment for your child.
If you notice that he seems to nap more during the daytime and you’re worried if he can still get enough rest during nighttime, you can wake him up and play with him.
Comfort your baby when he’s fussy
Babies tend to demand more attention during this time of growth. It is inevitable to spend more time and attention soothing your baby.
Dr. Ian M. Paul recommends alternating soothing methods during bedtime. You may do other things to get your baby to settle down aside from feeding him.
Try re-swaddling your child, changing his diaper, singing to him, or putting on white noise. You may also talk to your child, cuddle him, or do other things that have a calming effect on him.
Your baby will be needing more of your time and attention at this phase. Surely, you’ll be feeding your child more frequently too. That’s why you should really take good care of yourself.
Eat healthy foods, and drink lots of water. and get enough rest if possible. If handling your baby becomes more challenging, ask for help from your partner or a friend.
Baby growth spurt and leaps
Growth isn’t just about having an increase in height and weight. Keep in mind that this is also connected to your baby’s development. Aside from being unusually fussy and cranky, these behavioral changes might also indicate that a developmental leap is coming.
It can happen during baby’s growth spurt or at a different time. So if your little one appears to be unsettled and fussy, get ready to witness a new skill unveiling before your eyes!
Maybe sooner or later, you will see him rolling over or crawling in the bed. Maybe you’re about to see your child being able to clap or grasp a toy while on a growth spurt. Now, your baby has mastered new tricks!
At one point in your baby’s growth spurt, a physical enlargement occurs on his brain along with the rest of his body, causing his skull to also grow and fuse in turn. It explains why by the age of one, the baby’s “soft spot” or fontanelle is closed or nearly closed according to Dr. May.
Developmental milestones vs growth spurts
It’s easy to differentiate a growth spurt from a developmental milestone. A growth spurt refers to the physical changes the child may experience as they age, for example, the increase in their height and weight.
On the other hand, the developmental milestone is about the growth in the actions and skills of your child.
Those actions and skills development indicate the child’s growing maturity as they age. Developmental milestones involve developments and improvements in the cognitive ability of your child.
In addition, developments in the social, emotional, and motor skills of your child are all part of their developmental milestones.
It’s normal for your child to experience growth spurts. It occurs at different stages of a child’s development.
Growth spurt baby
From infancy up to two years old, you should expect your baby to experience significant growth in height and weight. Usually, babies grow 25 centimeters longer and weigh triple their original weight during the first year of their life.
After this significant growth, a growth spurt will also occur during toddler ages. The growth spurt will continue as the toddler ages between preschool and puberty. At this time, your child may experience changes in their eating habits. That may lead to slow and steady growth.
Typically, the height of your child is expected to become double their height from birth by the age of five. This growth spurt continues until adolescence. During adolescence, each year, you can expect a regular increase in your child’s height and weight.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels
Growth spurt adolescent
The growth spurt during puberty reaches the age of sexual maturation. Their growth differs depending on their assigned sex at birth.
If your child is assigned female at birth, you can expect that she will experience a growth spurt between nine years old and 15 years old.
On the other hand, if your child is male assigned at birth, you can expect his adolescent growth spurt between ages 12 and 17.
However, remember mommies and daddies, the age where the growth spurts usually occur varies from child to child. Each child has their own pace when it comes to growth, and it’s totally normal. You shouldn’t pressure their growth.
Effects of growth spurts on children
The changes in your child’s physical body may lead to trouble sleeping or changes in their sleeping patterns. These changes may result in an emotional toll on them. They may become fussier than normal. But you have to remember that those are part of their growth. What you can do to help is offer them support and love while they experience all these signs of growth.
How to support your child during a growth spurt period?
You can support your kid by providing them additional meals to satisfy their increased hunger. Since a growth spurt may cause changes in appetite, additional food may give them satisfaction and avoid being fussier.
In addition, you can encourage them to have a regular bedtime. That may help in developing a positive sleeping habit for your child. And most importantly, be patient with their changing emotions. Bear with them and understand that the changes in their emotions are part of their growth. You need to be there for them to help them understand their emotions.
Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels
Is it still a growth spurt or could it be something else?
Like teething, baby growth spurt might be confused with other issues. If you are observing baby growth spurt signs in your newborn but these signs go on beyond a few days to a week, this might be an indication that there are other conditions involved. Your baby might be feeling unwell so consult with your pediatrician right away.
Every parent desires to see their little one grow and develop. A growth spurt is a normal and natural part of every infant’s first year of life. This won’t always be easy but they are lucky to have parents who will stick to them, love them, and celebrate with them through the changes and challenges.
How about you? What challenges did you encounter during your baby’s growth spurt? Do you have tips you would like to share? We’d love to know! Go and share it in the comment section!
Additional information written by Jobelle Macayan
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