All doctors are of the opinion that growth spurts in babies commence just after birth. The first growth spurt generally occurs between the first and third weeks, while the second one falls between the sixth and eight weeks. After these initial two growth spurts in babies, parents can look forward to further growth spurts at 3, 6, and nine months. Some babies may also experience more growth spurts. The time and duration of growth spurts often varies between babies.
Typically, a baby experiences rapid growth during the first year. It may put on three times the birth weight before the first year gets completed. A majority of growth spurts in babies happen in short, powerful bursts. The drastic changes in weight and height can also effect the breastfeeding mother and other care givers. However, most growth spurts in babies only last for about 2 to 3 days and the situation then returns to routine.
One of the key symptoms of a growth spurt in babies is the radical increase in the regularity of meals. A baby experiencing a growth spurt will also become crankier and more irritable. Even if the baby is fully satiated with the milk meals, it will behave as if the meal was inadequate. It however does not indicate that the baby is malnourished or starving. Most babies typically experience around five growth spurts in the first year.
A few common signs and symptoms of growth spurts in babies are as follows:
- Altered appetite: Babies may have a continuous desire to keep eating. It may feel perpetually hungry and keep on eating insatiably. At the time of growth spurts in babies, mothers may need to keep altering their scheduled breastfeeding program. It is vital that parents cater to the elevated appetite needs of the baby. The breastfeeding sessions can be increased in number, or the ounces can be increased.
- Abnormal sleeping: Babies may sleep for long durations. Older babies have a tendency to wake up somewhat earlier from the naps. It is important to avoid disturbing babies when they are sleeping, for feeding or any other reason. Babies usually grow when they are sleeping. Adequate physical growth only happens when babies are able to get enough sleep.
- Behavioral changes:Babies experiencing a growth spurt may become very restless. They may become easily grouchy or irritated. The resting hours decrease along with changes in the sleeping pattern. Sometimes, babies may wake up at 1 or 2 AM and feel very hungry. Such cravings for nocturnal snacks may recur after every two hours. Late night awakenings may also lead to mood disturbances and increased crankiness.Mothers may also notice that the baby may perpetually clasp and unclasp onto a breast. This may occur due to its need for additional milk which does not get produced as per the speed of demand. Babies may want to feed for longer durations and on a more regular basis. Parents always need be on alert and gauge the baby’s various moods. The daily routine needs to be changed often to cater to the changing wants of the baby. Patience is required for just a few days. Hence, make sure that babies experiencing growth spurts are always kept comfortable during this period.
Things that parents can do when babies are undergoing growth spurts
Growth spurts in babies can be a very tiring time for both the parents, more so for the mother. It is however important to remember that even babies experience many difficulties trying to cope with all the sudden bodily changes. Parents should always keep alternative sources of milk at hand to compensate for the elevated appetites. It may also be noted that increase in breastfeeding activities causes the breasts to produce additional milk.
Parents also have to pay extra attention to the dietary needs of older babies who are eating solid foods. It is not mandatory to begin using milk formula because you think that the breast-milk flow is not enough. You can keep on breastfeeding and the breasts will commence producing more milk to meet the increased demands.
Babies will gain weight during the varied growth spurts. Diapers may need changing five to six times per day. The additional workload can have an adverse effect on mothers. It is therefore important for nursing mothers to take care of themselves as well. It is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet and keep the body sufficiently hydrated at all times.
Fathers should help with the household chores. This will allow the mother to get sufficient rest and happily take care of the baby and its needs. Mothers can reprogram the daily routine as per the baby’s schedule; you may also take naps when the baby is sleeping.If babies do not want food, but are just cranky, then a stroll in the park will soothe them and refresh its mood.
Most cases of growth spurts in babies continue for only 2 to 3 days. However, some babies may continue experiencing a growth spurt for nearly a week. Therefore, parents should be ready for all contingencies.