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Is it just your imagination, or did your newborn just outgrow his clothes overnight? Infant growth spurts happen in what feels like the blink of an eye, and it doesn’t just stop with the first one. If your baby is eating more than usual and outgrowing his clothes, chances are, he’s hit his first spurt.
When do babies have growth spurts? What signs should you be looking for? These are important questions asked by new parents.
Here are 10 important things you need to know about your little sprout’s spurts:
Baby Growth Spurts Timeline
1. Your Baby Will Have Five Spurts in His First Year
Babies have about five growth spurts in their first 12 months. That’s your little one’s job this year – to grow bigger. By the time he celebrates his first birthday, he will have tripled his weight and have grown 8-10 inches.
During each spurt, your little one will put on more weight, he’ll grow in length, and the circumference of his head will grow as well. When babies are born, their heads are one third the size of an adult’s. During those crucial first four months, his head will grow more than any other time in his life.
2. Spurts Are Spread Throughout the Year
When do babies go through growth spurts? Spurts can happen at any time, but they’re more likely to happen at:
- 2 weeks
- 3 weeks
- 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
These timeframes are just guidelines, so don’t worry if your baby doesn’t have a growth spurt at these times. As long as your baby is eating happily and still gaining weight, he’s growing just fine. Each baby has his or her own growth pattern.
3. The Length of the Spurt Varies
Your newborn’s appetite is unending and he’s suddenly outgrown all of his clothes. Yes, spurts do happen overnight. As a parent, you’re probably wondering how long these spurts last – and if you should be buying a lot of new clothes.
The good news is that spurts only last a few days in young babies. But when babies get a bit older, spurts can sometimes last a whole week.
Thankfully, most of the spurts your baby will go through will be short and sweet, which means you can get back to life as normal pretty quickly.
4. Your Baby Will Be Extra Hungry
If your baby has suddenly turned into a bottomless pit, it may be a sign that he’s going through a growth spurt.
If you typically feed every three hours, he may want to eat every hour or two. This is perfectly normal and nothing that you should be concerned about. Whenever he feeds, he’s actually stimulating milk production, which will help your body keep up with his ferocious appetite.
Older babies will want to breastfeed more often as well, or eat more baby food if he’s on solids.
5. Sleep Patterns Will Change
Just when you’ve settled into a routine and your baby has started sleeping through most of the night, he’s suddenly waking up in the middle of the night, crying for a midnight snack. He may be up every two hours wanting to feed. Older babies may also wake up early from naps.
But there are some babies that will sleep longer before and during spurts. He’s channeling all of his energy to growing, so he needs more rest than usual. One study suggests that babies can sleep as much as four and a half hours longer than usual during a spurt.
Why is your baby sleeping so much? Doctors aren’t sure, but it may have to do with the protein known as human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is critical for growth, but it can only be produced in the brain when you’re sleeping. Those extra naps may just be giving your baby the fuel he needs to grow big and strong.
6. Expect Baby to Be Cranky
Imagine how much energy it takes to carry out a major growth spurt. It’s no surprise that babies often get cranky when they go through these phases. Some research shows that babies are more fussy and clingy during growth spurts.
Part of the reason why baby is so cranky is because he needs to eat more, and he wants to eat more right now.
And if he’s up every two hours in the middle of the night, you’ll both be running on empty, which can make him even crankier.
7. Don’t Give Up on Breastfeeding
If you’re breastfeeding, you may feel like giving up when your baby hits a growth spurt – not because you’re tired, but because you’re worried he isn’t getting enough milk. Don’t worry, your breasts will produce more than enough milk for your baby’s growing appetite.
In fact, the more often you feed, the more milk you’ll produce. Keep in mind that it may take a few days for your body to adjust to your baby’s heightened appetite, which is why spurts can feel so overwhelming. It may seem like your baby isn’t getting enough milk, but he is.
Signs That Your Baby is Feeding Well
- He has five wet diapers per day.
- He’s having normal bowel movements.
- He’s gaining weight steadily.
8. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
There will be a lot of focus on your growing sprout during these tough phases, but it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, too. Make sure that you’re eating regularly and staying hydrated. Ask your loved ones to help you with the chores, like doing the dishes, so you can take a break (however short that may be).
While you may feel like a 24-hour milk buffet right now, take solace in knowing that spurts only last a few days. Things will be back to normal before you know it.
9. Know When to See a Doctor
It’s not unusual for babies to be extra cranky, extra hungry and extra sleepy during a growth spurt, but spurts aren’t the cause of all problems.
If your little one is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, see your doctor right away:
- Consistent, worrying cries
Your baby may spit up if she’s feeding more than normal, and that’s perfectly normal. But if she’s vomiting repeatedly over 12 hours, she needs to see a doctor.
When it comes to your baby’s cries, listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, do not hesitate to see your doctor.
10. This, Too, Will Pass
Growth spurts can be hard on parents and babies. Mom and baby are more irritable and hungry than ever, and regular feeding sessions may leave you feeling drained. This time period can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that this, too, will pass.
Typically, spurts only last a few days in younger babies. Look for the signs, and prepare yourself mentally for what’s ahead. It’s much easier to handle a growth spurt if you know what to expect. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and to enlist help from your partner or other family members to help with the chores.
With each passing growth spurt, your baby is taking a magical leap towards his next milestone, so do your best to give him what he needs and try to get through each phase.