Understanding Baby Growth Spurts

How to know what causes growth spurts and when to expect them.

An important rule to remember when following On Becoming Babywise is to always feed baby when hungry. No matter the reason your baby is hungry, if baby is hungry, baby should be fed. This is stated over and over again in the books. Feed first, then figure out why there is hunger happening when you do not expect it.

A common reason for hunger is a growth spurt. Growth spurts happen frequently and almost seem to be a constant thing in those first few months! They typically happen about every 3-4 weeks initially. The exact ages can vary, but they typically happen around 2-4 weeks, then 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months.

During a growth spurt, your baby grows very quickly in both height and weight. We all know about teenagers and how much they eat and how fast they grow. Babies are like teenagers in that way.

A great benefit of following On Becoming Babywise is that it is easy to identify a growth spurt is happening. When your baby eats at predictable times each day, then suddenly is waking early from naps and acting hungry, you know there is a good chance a growth spurt is happening. You have less guess-work going on than you would if every day were different from the previous one.

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How To Know If It Is a Growth Spurt

A common reason for hunger is a growth spurt, but it isn't the only one. Some common signs that point to a growth spurt are increased hunger (either eating more per feeding or eating more often to get more in throughout the day), sleep pattern changes, crankiness, and seeming out of sorts. It is always safe to assume it is a growth spurt, treat it like one, and feed baby more and see what happens.

How Long Will a Growth Spurt Last

This can vary and some doctors say you can't put a timeline on it. Others say your baby will have the change in eating, sleeping, and behavior patterns for 2-3 days. As a mom of four children, I have had 2-3 day disruptions, but I have also had it last closer to a week.

When the need to eat more frequently is over, the baby will often sleep longer than usual (this can happen before a growth spurt, also). During a growth spurt, it is easy to worry all of your efforts to establish a great routine will have been for naught, but rest assured baby will return to those established sleeping habits.

How Often Are Growth Spurts

As stated above, growth spurts typically happen every 3-4 weeks. There can also be on around age 10-14 days old. The exact ages can vary, but they typically happen around 2-4 weeks, then 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months.

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Growth spurts can be concerning. You don't know for certain that it is a growth spurt until it is really over. During the growth spurt, you worry sleep will never be the same. Growth spurts are never convenient; they take a lot of extra time from the parents as feedings need to be more frequent and/or longer.

This can make family life overall disrupted. Take a deep breath and hang in there. Give yourself permission to take some days off from normal life. Do what you have to do with older children to keep them occupied while baby takes more time and energy than usual. You can read more about my experience with growth spurts from a Babywise mom perspective here.

Valerie Plowman

Valerie Plowman

Valerie Plowman is a Babywise Mom of four children and blogs at www.BabyWiseMom.com. Read her latest book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, for help on getting perfect naps.

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