Baby Growth Spurts
You may hear many parents talking about their babies and children in reference to them having a ‘growth spurt’ and be thinking that sounds a bit painful!
But it isn’t at all, in face it’s a perfectly normal and painless part of your baby’s physical growth development.
A growth spurt is a rapid period of growth – either in height or weight – and typically happens consistently during the first 12 months of your baby’s growing time.
They will become less noticeable after this time, but may still occur and you may also know that many teenagers go through growth spurts during puberty as their body begins to react to different hormone levels in their body.
It’s good to know the different ways a growth spurt can affect your baby, and it’s also important to know that they are not painful!
Here are a few tips and advice to help you and your baby through this development stage.
What happens when my baby has a growth spurt?
Typically you will notice that your baby puts on weight, grows in height (or length) and their head size may also develop more quickly during a growth spurt.
During these periods you may also notice your baby picks up new skills or manages to achieve other developmental milestones they’ve been striving towards.
The biggest changes you may notice in your baby’s behaviour during a growth spurt are that they want to feed more and sleep more, so if you’re not sure if your baby is experiencing a growth spurt keep an eye out for these two signs.
How long does a growth spurt last for?
Each baby is different and some babies may seem to sail through a growth spurt without any acknowledgement, while some babies might seem a little clingier and unsettled than normal.
The same can be said for the duration of a growth spurt it all depends on the baby, and their age is also a big factor in this.
In young babies growth spurts can be more frequent and so tend to last a couple of days or so.
As your baby grows and their growth spurts happen further apart, you may notice that they last anywhere from 7 to 10 days.
Don’t worry if you don’t notice your baby’s growth spurts – they really can vary even for individual babies and you might notice some and not others.
What signs should i look out for if i think my baby is experiencing a growth spurt?
As mentioned above the main sign is that your baby will want to feed more.
This is because as they grow rapidly, they burn more energy and need more fuel (feeding!) to help support their continued development.
Some other signs to look out for include:
1. Sleep pattern changes
During and after a growth spurt you may notice that your baby wants to sleep more – which could be a blessing in itself!
You may notice that they sleep more continuously through the night, wake up later in the morning and get sleepier during the day.
This is all normal and is a sign that your baby is putting all their energy into growing rather than playing!
2. Behavioural changes
You may notice that your baby seems needier and clings to you more than they normally would when they go through a growth spurt.
They may also seem more emotional and cry more, seeking to be soothed by you.
This is usually a side effect of the tiredness they’re feeling from all their energy going into growing and is not something to be concerned about.
How can I help my baby through a growth spurt?
The most important way to support your baby through a growth spurt is to know their normal routine and behaviour patterns when it comes to sleep and feeding, so you can pick up on any changes and react accordingly.
1. Support their sleep
If your baby is sleeping for longer or needing an extra nap, just let them sleep.
It can be tempting when your baby breaks a sleep routine to try and make sure they stick to it – even if it means waking them up on purpose! But try not to.
Your baby is telling you what their body needs and will also tell you when they’re ready to wake up and play again!
2. Breastfeeding mums
Your baby may be more demanding and want more milk, and at first you might find this difficult and feel as though your baby is not getting enough!
Your body can take a little while to catch up with your baby’s needs but it will.
If you’re really concerned, a formula milk can help as a backup to make sure your baby is getting all the food they need.
3. Formula feeding mums
You might notice that the normal amount just isn’t enough during a growth spurt!
It’s fine to offer your baby another bottle during the day as an extra, or a little more during their normal feed.
Your baby will let you know how much they need.
4. Emotional support
If your baby is being clingy, or needing more soothing, make sure you give in to them.
Plenty of cuddles and soothing words can make all the difference, especially when your baby is probably unsure as to why they’re feeling this way themself!
Make sure you know the difference between growth spurt sleepiness and something else.
If your baby seems to be sleeping excessively, is difficult to wake up and seems extremely groggy even after being awake for a little while, make sure you speak with your doctor or midwife.
Growth spurts never normally come along with a fever, wheezing, rashes or general social disengagement – if you notice any of these or similar symptoms, again speak with your doctor or midwife.
As mentioned above – it’s important to know what’s ‘normal’ for your baby and respond accordingly, so you can make sure they are as healthy, happy and supported as they need to be as they continue to grow.