There are several ways that your newborn will signal to you that they are going through a growth spurt. At times, these signals will occasionally cause a parent to worry. Below is a cheat sheet to recognizing newborn growth spurts and dealing with them as smoothly as possible. Though the sources primarily discuss growth spurts in terms of breastfeeding, many of these points will also be valuable for formula-fed babies.
What Is A Growth Spurt?
A growth spurt is a spurt in development in a baby. Often times, we imagine this as physical changes, however this can also be developmental advances as well. The baby rolling, sitting, and learning to crawl require the brain to undergo some growth spurts, too.
First things first, here are the things you might notice when a newborn growth spurt is headed your way: the baby is hungry seemingly all the time, the baby has decided to wake in the night more often, and the baby is crankier.
Basically, the baby that was settling in to a routine may turn the world topsy turvy again when the growth spurt happens. The demands of food and sleep not being met fast enough will spiral the baby (not to mention the caretakers) into a cranky state. Being prepared is the only way you can fight this.
How To Deal
Follow your baby’s lead a little bit. Sometimes, we try very hard to keep a routine, and that is OK, but during these spurts you are going to find that “fighting” the growth spurts will not help. Baby is hungry for good reason — because he or she is using all of their nutrients to grow. They need to sleep to keep up energy for all the cellular processes that are activating for physical and mental growth. And finally, they are cranky because they feel like their needs are taking too long to be met.
When the baby is adjusting, sometimes as parents and caretakers we find it counterintuitive to take a minute and take care of ourselves. Don’t fall into that trap. If you are nursing, you will want to make sure that you are drinking enough water or eating enough calories. Get help from your partner or close friends for dishes or other household chores. This will give you the time for breastfeeding this little growing monster. The baby may want to nurse as much as once an hour during these growth spurts, so it’s nice to allow yourself the time.
During this time, many mothers worry that their supply isn’t high enough since their baby doesn’t ever seem to get full. They are tempted to move to formula in order to measure how much the baby is getting or to supplement with formula. If breastfeeding is important to you, please understand that this growth spurt feeding schedule isn’t forever and, in fact, the baby is feeding in order to raise your supply to accommodate it in the long haul. Things will go back to normal and you will not be feeding hourly for long.
When Do Growth Spurts Happen?
Per Kellymom.com, newborn growth spurts happen during the first few days home, at 7-10 days old, at 2-3 weeks, at 4-6 weeks, at 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, and at 9 months. Obviously, this is not something you are going to be able to set your watch by, but it gives an idea.
Growth spurts tend to last 2 to 3 days when they do occur. They can last as long as a week.
This link will take you to the What To Expect When You are Expecting site for more information on growth spurts.
This link is also an excellent source for parenting information (including growth spurts).
Featured photo credit: Smiling Baby -Coco Isabella Flikr via flickr.com