If your newborn is suddenly eating constantly, sleeping erratically, and seems to be fussy all the time, they might be going through a growth spurt. If those newborn diapers you stocked up on for your little one are no longer big enough and those adorable newborn sleepers are getting a bit snug, your baby is definitely going through a growth spurt!
Babies experience the most growth during their first year of life, so if you were hoping to establish any sort of routine for your newborn, you might be out of luck. But it’s helpful to recognize when your baby is experiencing changes. Here are five signs of newborn growth spurts.
Although newborns very rarely have any kind of set sleep schedule, babies will often sleep for a long stretch right before they experience a growth spurt. “There are important physiological changes that happen during sleep that are essential for growth,” Peter Nieman, a pediatrician and assistant clinical professor at the University of Calgary medical school told Today’s Parent. He also warns that unless your baby is a week old or otherwise advised by a doctor, you don’t need to wake the baby for a feed. “She needs her rest, and she’ll make up for milk or formula she missed at her next feeding,” he added.
While some babies sleep for long stretches before a growth spurt, the reverse can also be true. If you have a baby who was sleeping a lot, a growth spurt might cause them to wake during the night, oftentimes to feed due to increased hunger.
Another way to determine if your baby is experiencing a lot of growth is that they’ll constantly want to eat! If your baby is always hungry and doesn’t seem satiated even after feeding, their body might be preparing for a growth spurt. If your baby is breastfed, many mothers often worry they aren’t producing enough milk because their baby is nursing so much, but the body will typically respond to the increased feeds by producing enough milk to keep up with demand. “Everything is revved up in the first year of life. The metabolism is quick, the frequency of needing feeds is quick,” Dr. Joshua May, a pediatric endocrinologist at Los Angeles Medical Center at Kaiser Permanente told Parents. “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.”
Growth spurts can sometimes make for a fussy baby. This might be because they’re so hungry, they just want to eat all the time, and sometimes because their hunger is disrupting their sleep schedule. Adults know how sleep deprivation can affect their own mood, and the same is thought to be true for infants who are struggling to get restful sleep.
Growth spurts don’t only affect your child’s height and weight but their developmental skills as well. If your baby can suddenly roll over or they’re able to grasp an object, that might be thanks to a growth spurt.
Although growth spurts can throw your feeding and sleeping schedule out the window, the good news is they don’t tend to last very long at all. Most growth spurts will only last a few days to a week at most. Healthline notes that while all babies are different, the general guideline for growth spurts is as follows;
- 1 to 3 weeks of age
- 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
If your baby is experiencing a growth spurt, the best thing you can do is simply be there for them and try to listen to their cues. If they’re hungry, feed them, and if they’re fussy, try to cuddle them in a quiet space. Patience is key during a growth spurt, as your baby might experience a very erratic schedule for a few days.
Many newborns will sleep for long stretches leading up to a growth spurt, while others will experience restless sleep thanks to a suddenly insatiable appetite. There really isn’t a hard and fast rule, but there are many studies that link sleep to physical growth, so if you notice your newborn suddenly sleeping through a feed or napping more than usual, it could be a sign that they’re about to undergo a growth spurt.
Final thoughts on growth spurts
Although they can be a bit disruptive to your schedule, it’s exciting to see how much a growth spurt will impact your little one. Growth spurts can affect a lot of your baby’s behavior, but if you’re concerned that a change in your baby’s eating or sleeping patterns is out of the ordinary, you should always consult with a medical professional.
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