In the first year of your baby’s life, you experience the wonder of watching your baby grow and change constantly. You bear witness to her first smile – and marvel at each new fat roll that emerges on those chunky thighs.
You delight in the magic of watching your baby change from a sleepy newborn to a giggling, watchful observer of the world.
But as your babe meets all these milestones, her patterns inevitably change. Just when you master your baby’s sleep schedule, she decides an afternoon nap isn’t on today’s agenda.
Could this be a growth spurt?
In the moment, it can be difficult to know if you r baby is experiencing a transitional phase. Let’s discuss what a growth spurt means and how you can support your baby with the right tools and resources.
Understanding Growth Spurts
Ahh, that fee ling of getting your baby down for a nap. You have a few minutes to scroll through your phone. Or eat. Or do laundry. The day is yours – if only for an hour.
Wait. Is that... a crying baby? You have got to be kidding me. You just got him down!
Before you speed - dial the pediatrician, let’s consider the possibility of your baby going through a growth spurt. We’ll have your baby back to dreaming and you back to scrolling very soon.
Do Babies Have Growth Spurts?
When you think of growth spurts, a grouchy teenager may come to mind. You know, the one who has doubled the grocery bill by drinking a gallon of milk per day? For babies, it may look a little cuter (and less expensive), but they experience a rapid change in growth, just like teenagers do.
A growth spurt means that your baby is experiencing physical changes quickly. During a growth spurt, your baby may show signs like:
- Increased appetite
- Sleep pattern changes
Even though your baby probably won’t experience growing pains (like a teenager might), it can be a confusing time for your little one. So, be ready to give a little extra TLC, here’s how.
Changes in Appetite
During a growth spurt, your baby may not be satisfied at mealtime. She may seem hungry after feeding or need to eat sooner than expected.
As you troubleshoot why your baby is moving away from the status quo, consider the ways she usually communicates her needs. She may be giving you signals called hunger cues to let you know she wants more food. Hunger cues include signs like putting hands to the mouth, chewing on fingers, or making sucking sounds.
It may be surprising to see hunger cue s after your baby just finished eating, but it may be your signal to add more milk to the next bottle or breastfeed a little longer. As you start to understand how your baby's growth spurt is affecting her, you’ll get in tune with her needs and understand what she’s asking for.
As a parent, you can probably tell the difference in your baby’s cries – from hunger to gas or even a wet diaper. There’s no specific cry that says, “Hey, I’m having a growth spurt.” So it’s best to follow a process of elimination. If you’ve ruled out all the typical problems, consider that your baby could be uncomfortable because he’s experiencing rapid growth.
Babies can be fussy or restless for a number of reasons. Remember to pay attention to any signs of illness, like a stuffy nose or fever. Lean into your mother's intuition and call your pediatrician if you feel there’s a medical concern.
Sleep Pattern Changes
During a growth spurt, your baby may be sleeping more or less than usual. Growing takes a lot of energy, s o your baby’s naps may be longer. On the other hand, an uncomfortable transition can cause restlessness – so your baby may have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
If you feel like your baby is taking “cat naps,” don’t pull your hair out just yet! We’l l discuss how you can support your baby during this restless time.
When Do Babies Experience the Most Growth?
During the first few months, your baby will grow steadily. A growth spurt can happen seemingly overnight for some babies and go unnoticed for others.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most common time periods for a growth spurt are during days 7-10 and between 3-6 weeks of age.
During the first 10 days of your baby’s life, it’s normal for your baby to lose weight and gain it back. Sometime in the first five days, baby will shed the extra fluid from being in the womb. When this happens, your baby will lose about one-tenth of her original birth weight. Then by day 10, your little one will gain it back.
After the initial growth spurt, baby may experience another at 3, 6, or 9 months. After the first year, your baby’s growth will slow down and feel more gradual. In fact, the next major growth spurt most likely won’t occur until adolescence. You’ll have plenty of time to star t saving up for those gallons of milk.
Keep in mind that every baby develops at his or her own pace. Some babies show signs of rapid growth – while others will surprise you with their subtle changes. Every baby is different. What’s most important is getting to know your baby’s patterns.
How to Help Your Baby Get Through a Growth Spurt
If your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, you’ll most likely need to give extra cuddles and support to get through the transition. It may be frustrating that a week ago you were able to get him down for a solid nap, and today he can’t seem to get comfortable.
Remember, everything is temporary. The better you two get to know each other, the more smoothly you’ll be able to work through growth transitions together. The first one is always the hardest, so hang in there momma.
If you’re having trouble getting your baby down for a nap, you can try:
- Offering more milk
- A bath
- Rocking and singing
As you get to know your baby’s likes, dislikes, and patterns, it’ll get easier to understand her needs and provide the support she needs.
You Can Follow Your Baby’s Growth From Home
During the first year, you’ll be taking your baby in for regular check - ups. At these appointments, the provider will be looking for progress – like how much baby has grown between visits.
But you don’t have to wait until you’re at the pediatrician’s office to follow your baby’s growth. With award - winning products from www.funtasticmedia.com like the See Me Grow Mat and the See Me Grow Cover, you can measure your baby’s length from home. The See Me Grow Mat and Cover function as a 3-in-one changing table cover, growth chart, and keepsake – allowing you to measure your baby’s length during a diaper change.
As a parent, you’ll become your baby’s number one health historian and advocate. Once you identify that your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, you’ll be able to give her the support she needs to get through it – celebrating all the exciting milestones as they come!
Check out the See Me Grow products here: seemegrowmat.com.
Watch here: A Growing Baby is a Healthy Baby!
Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN
Alexa is a freelance health writer and registered nurse with over a decade of experience in neonatal and pediatric cardiac intensive care. As a travel nurse, she worked her way from the Atlantic to the Pacific to take care of some of the most inspiring kid s in the country. When Alexa is not busy putting pen to paper, she can be found recreating dishes from her favorite restaurants at her home in Charleston, SC.