With newborns, the unexpected is expected. As soon as you think you have their sleeping and feeding routine down pat, your baby might become a ravenous, irritable insomniac seemingly overnight. Then, they'll bounce back to normal after a few days. So, what gives?
The chances are that your baby is going through a growth spurt. Their first year of life comes with fast and furious growth. Baby growth spurts happen over short periods, and they literally put on inches and pounds overnight.
You might notice some changes during the growth spurts, so it's helpful if you can recognize when they happen and how to handle them. We've got you covered.
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When Do Babies Have Growth Spurts?
As you track your baby's progress, you'll probably wonder when to expect them to go through a growth spurt. Every baby is different, but there is a recognized timeline for growth spurts that most newborns tend to follow.
The first growth spurt occurs 7 to 10 days after birth, which is approximately the time when a breastfeeding mother's milk supply becomes established, and the baby begins to put on weight.
The second growth spurt happens between 3 and 6 weeks. And after that, your baby might experience additional spurts at 3, 6, and 9 months. Overall, your child will typically triple their weight while growing an average of 10 inches during their first year of life, thanks to their baby spurts.
How long does each baby's growth spurt last? They are fast, two to three days from start to finish. But, they happen so quickly that you might not realize your baby is going through one. Baby growth spurts are real, but they are very manageable. They are natural, there's nothing to fear, and many times, you might not even notice them.
Signs Your Baby Is Going Through A Growth Spurt
Now that you know when you can expect your baby to have a growth spurt, you can start looking for the signs. These bursts of growth might be over quickly, but there are some telltale signs. While every baby is unique and experiences growth spurts differently, here are some signals that you can count on seeing when they begin to grow:
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How Long Do Growth Spurts Last?
Luckily, baby and newborn growth spurts don't last too long. While your baby will undergo growth spurts frequently throughout their infancy and into toddlerhood, these spurts are short-lived. Lasting typically three days or less, you might not even notice it until the growth spurt is over and your little one's clothes no longer fit. While growth spurts can last up to a week, it's not common.
Once their growth spurt subsides, your baby should quickly get back to their regular eating and sleeping habits.
How To Handle Baby Growth Spurts
So, your baby is going through its first newborn growth spurt - now what? The baby will likely demand more attention during this time, so you should be prepared to provide extra cuddles and comfort. You'll probably have to feed them more often, and it can be difficult to remember to take care of yourself. Don't forget that you still need to eat healthily, get rest, and drink plenty of water. If possible, ask for help over the next few days.
There's no doubt that baby growth spurts can be difficult for parents. However, we recommend resisting your urge to attend to all of your baby's fussing with food. You can be more liberal with their feedings throughout the day, but try to hold off on extra meals late at night. Baby growth spurts usually affect their sleep, and your baby needs all the rest they can get.
However, more frequent feedings also mean an increase in your milk supply to provide for your extra hungry baby during their growth spurts. But soothing with food can quickly lead to overfeeding. So if your baby turns their head from your breast or bottle, they are done. Don't try to get them to finish.
You also want to alternate soothing methods during bedtime. If your baby is fussy at night, and they're at a healthy weight and fed recently, try putting on some white noise, changing their diaper, or swaddling them again. There are plenty of ways to try and settle your baby without feeding them unnecessarily.
Patience and perspective are crucial when your baby isn't consoled during their growth spurt. For example, think about how uncomfortable you would be if you needed to double your weight in a couple of months: you'd also need to eat a lot and would likely be cranky.
How To Tell If Your Baby Is Growing Well
Other than a weight that continues growing and a big stack of wet diapers, the best way to tell if your baby is growing well is by looking at a growth chart.
Your pediatrician will track their growth, but you don't have to wait for a visit to check on it. Refer to a baby growth chart regularly, and if you have any concerns, you can discuss them with your baby's doctor.
While a baby's growth spurt might come as a shock at first, it's a healthy part of their natural development and progress. And there's nothing more special than seeing your child get stronger and grow bigger right before your eyes.
Now that you understand your baby's growth spurts, it will be easier to handle them.
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