Understanding Baby Growth Spurts

Stages of Increased Feedings Help Your Baby Grow and Increase Your Milk Supply

Mother holding baby by window.
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If you have noticed that after finding a comfortable rhythm for your baby's eating patterns, your baby suddenly seems to be hungry all the time, she might be going through a growth spurt. Growth spurts last for a few days, and babies are often hungry, sleepy, and fussy during that time, but shouldn't have signs of illness such as fevers or vomiting.

 

Periodic growth spurts are perfectly normal for babies, and that is the most likely explanation for what appears to be a ravenous baby. As new parents, when your baby becomes extra hungry, you might start to wonder if you are feeding your baby enough, if mommy is making enough breastmilk, or if your baby needs to start solids.

A Baby Growth Spurt

A baby growth spurt is a sudden burst in your infant's growth that is accompanied by a brief period of increased feeding. Sometimes, it may seem like your baby outgrew his cute little sleeper overnight- and that may be because he actually did.

In addition to eating non-stop, your baby might seem to be fussier than normal, waking up more frequently from naps or from nighttime sleep.

Growth spurts generally don't last for more than two to three days, but those days can certainly feel as if you are trapped in a never-ending feeding cycle during the hunger stretch.

What to Do During a Baby's Growth Spurt

The best thing you can do during a growth spurt is to increase your baby's feedings.

During the newborn period, it is best to feed your little one through these spurts if he is hungry. If your baby is older than 6 months, you may want to talk to your pediatrician about how to handle frequent night waking.

You may not need to feed your older baby frequently during the night if your baby has had consistent weight gain.

If you are breastfeeding, growth spurts will help ​increase your milk supply. So you don't need to give up on nursing during these periods if you are dedicated to breastfeeding your baby.

When Growth Spurts Happen

Breastfeeding mothers may notice a few intense feeding patterns in the early weeks. These are known as cluster feedings, and they are important in establishing your milk supply and helping your baby gain weight.

In your baby's first year, it is possible that you will see about five growth spurts, occurring sometime around 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months. These are typical ages when growth spurts occur, but all babies grow and develop uniquely. So don't necessarily expect that a growth spurt will happen exactly on the predicted timeline. 

When to Worry

If you still have the nagging sense of worry that your baby is not getting enough to eat or that something is wrong with your milk production, there are some things you can look for. Keep an eye on diaper count. What goes in must come out! After your baby is older than 5 days old, you should expect 5 to 6 soaking diapers a day.

If your baby is pooping enough, this is a good sign that she is getting enough to eat. 

You can also do a weight check. These can often be done as a quick nurse's visit to see if the numbers on the scale are going up, which is a good sign that your baby is growing.