Understanding Baby Growth Spurts

Increased Feedings Help Your Baby Grow and Boost Your Milk Supply

Mother holding baby by window.
Tara Moore/Taxi/Getty Images

Just when you thought you had gotten into a comfortable rhythm with your baby's feeding patterns, they suddenly seem to be hungry all the time! As a new parent, you might worry that you aren't feeding them enough or that your breast milk supply is inadequate. You might even wonder if your baby needs to start solids.

The most likely explanation for a ravenous baby is that your little one is going through a growth spurt. Periodic growth spurts (from a few days to a week) are perfectly normal for infants.

During a growth spurt, your baby might be especially hungry, sleepy, and fussy. However, they should not have signs of illness, such as fevers or vomiting.

What Is a Growth Spurt?

A growth spurt is a sudden burst in your infant's growth that is accompanied by a brief period of increased feeding. It might seem like your baby outgrew their cute little sleepers overnight—and it might be because they actually did.

In addition to eating non-stop, your baby might be fussier than usual and wake up more frequently from naps and nighttime sleep. For parents, a growth spurt can feel like a never-ending feeding cycle. Growth spurts often last a few days but can last up to one week.

When Do Growth Spurts Occur?

Breastfeeding mothers might notice intense feeding patterns in the early weeks of their baby's life. These are known as cluster feedings. These feedings are important for establishing your milk supply and helping your baby gain weight.

Babies go through many growth spurts during the first year of life. In the first month alone, growth spurts can happen every few days or even weekly. After that, they become more spread out.

You might notice growth spurts around certain ages. These are just a few of the typical ages when growth spurts can occur, but all babies grow and develop uniquely. A growth spurt will not necessarily happen exactly on a predicted timeline. 

  • 6 weeks
  • 8 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months

What to Do During a Growth Spurt

You will need to increase your baby's feedings when they are going through a growth spurt. While your baby is still a newborn, you can feed them whenever they seem to be hungry.

If your baby is older than 6 months, ask your pediatrician about the best way to handle night waking. An older baby might not need to be fed frequently during the night if they have had consistent weight gain.

If you are breastfeeding, rest assured that you don't need to give up nursing during these periods. In fact, your baby's growth spurts will help ​increase your milk supply.

When to Worry

If you have a nagging worry that your baby is not getting enough to eat, or that something is wrong with your milk production, keep an eye on your little one's diaper count. Remember: what goes in must come out!

Once your baby is five days old, you should see five to six soaking diapers each day. After day five, your baby will likely have three to four stools per day (though some babies poop less frequently).

You can also do a weight check. You can often schedule these as a quick nurse's visit to see if the numbers on the scale are going up—a good sign that your baby's growth is on track.

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.