Understanding Infant Growth Spurts
Raising a newborn has never been a cakewalk because of the sheer unpredictability of it. Just when you begin to feel you have mastered it, a spanner is thrown in the wheel. Their sleeping and feeding routine, essential for creating a daily routine for infants, will suddenly change, and your smiling infant suddenly becomes cranky and irritable.And by the time you feel you are able to cope with it, they are suddenly back to being as sweet and cheerful. Well we have the answer to this erratic behaviour now — growth spurts.
If you are wondering when infants have growth spurts, they are the fastest during your infant’s first year where they can gain 5 to 7 ounces every week and grow half to one inch every month during the first 6 months. They have usually doubled their birth weight in the first 5 months and tripled it by their first birthday. They usually also gain an average of 10 inches of height by the end of their first year. Sometimes it almost feels as if the changes happened overnight. This kind of growth is tiring work which is what changes your baby’s moods and sleep patterns. We will equip you with the information that you require regarding your infant’s growth spurts so that you can tackle the issue better for the benefit of both you and your baby.
Growth Spurts – What Are They?
A growth spurt is a period when a baby experiences an increase in weight and height. A baby’s growth spurt lasts only for a few days and in that period they tend to feed for longer and more often as their body needs more energy for the concentrated growth. They may also display changed and disturbed sleep patterns and be fussier than usual.
When Do Growth Spurts Happen?
By and far, the infant growth spurt schedule is fixed with a few individual variations. The first common infant growth spurt usually happens between 7 to 10 days after their birth. This is when a breastfeeding mother’s milk supply has stabilised and babies start putting on weight.
The second growth spurt happens between 3 and 6 weeks and the next growth spurts are between 3, 6 and 9 months of age. Usually, a growth spurt lasts just 2 to 3 days and it’s often over even before you realise they are having one. In some cases, they may go on for a week. By and far, they are very manageable and are a completely natural phenomenon.
Signs of Infant Growth Spurt
- There are some telltale signs that indicate common infant growth spurts. Sometimes they are over in no time and before you even realise it. One fine day you might just notice that their clothes are too small for them. Also, every infant is different but there are a few common signs.
- Increased feeds. You may suddenly notice that your baby wants to feed all the time and may continue to be hungry even after a full feed.
- General fussiness. Your baby may be cranky or irritable through the day, probably because they aren’t getting a solid stretch of sleep at night.
- Fitful sleep. They may suddenly stop sleeping through the night and wake up several times, be generally restless and may want to feed. Some babies might start sleeping more during a growth spurt.
- In some cases, mothers have reported that their own body signals that their baby is going through a growth spurt as they start feeling more thirsty and hungry than usual to accommodate feeding their baby more often.
What To Do During A Baby Growth Spurt?
- The first thing to do is stay calm and resign yourself to the fact that your baby will require more of your attention during the growth spurt for comfort and cuddles. As they will most likely demand more feeding, make sure that you yourself eat healthy, keep yourself hydrated and take rest whenever you can.
- Experts advise parents to resist feeding your baby every time it cries. You can feed them on demand during the day but it’s best to avoid extra night feeds as they should be getting adequate sleep.
- Frequent feedings will increase milk supply, which is good for your hungry growing baby. But soothing them with a feed every time can lead to overfeeding, so check for hunger cues, like nuzzling or rooting for the bottle or breast. Some parents try to force their baby to feed, which is never a good idea.
- Sometimes, alternate soothing methods can be used. If your baby is fussing at night, and it has been less than 3 hours since their last feed, you can try swaddling them again, check their diaper, sing to them or put on white noise. Feeding them is not always necessary.
- Basically, you need loads of patience and perspective rather than getting frantic during a baby growth spurt. One way to look at it is to imagine the discomfort and hunger pangs you would feel if you had to double your body weight in a couple of months.
How Do You Know If Baby’s Growth Is on Track
- The infant growth spurt schedule is pretty well defined and a steady weight gain is quite indicative that your infant is doing well. But the best way to determine this is by maintaining a growth chart.
- Your paediatrician is sure to weigh and measure your baby on every visit to keep track of its weight and height and look for trends and patterns. If your baby’s growth veers sharply from the norm, it could be an indicator of an illness or disease.
- It’s always best to follow your instincts as a parent when it comes to your baby’s growth. If you have any concerns about growth spurts or other issues, you can always discuss them with your paediatrician.
While your infant’s growth spurt may initially come as a shock with you wondering what you did wrong for your baby to be so cranky and irritable, do remember, it’s just a natural part of their development. There are sure to be good days and bad days and the realisation that this is completely normal makes it a bit easier to handle. Now that you have a better idea of growth spurts, you’ll be better prepared to recognise the signs of infant growth spurts and how to handle them. This too will pass and you can visit the EuroKids website for more pointers on how to recognise and manage infant growth spurts.