In the first year with a baby, there’s so much to marvel at — their adorable little fingers and toes, their beautiful eyes, the amazing way they can produce a diaper blowout that coats every single inch of their clothing and car seat, and how much they grow right before your eyes. Some of these are clearly more fun than others.
It’s likely that your new arrival will double their birth weight by around 5 months and triple it by the end of the first year. That is a lot of growing to do in just one year!
In fact, some days it might feel like you can’t finish the laundry fast enough before they’ve outgrown their clothes. It’s not your imagination that they’re growing so fast — it’s probably just a growth spurt.
A growth spurt is a time during which your baby has a more intense period of growth. During this time, they may want to nurse more frequently, change their sleep patterns, and generally be fussier.
While some of these signs of a growth spurt may seem to last forever while you’re dealing with them, growth spurts usually only last a few days to a week.
Keep in mind that growth during the first year is not just about size, but also about development. During periods when babies are working on learning new skills you may see some of these same indicators.
While every baby is unique, it’s likely you’ll experience quite a few growth spurts during the first year. Here’s when you may see growth spurts in your baby:
- 1 to 3 weeks of age
- 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
Of course, there is a range, and some babies may have less dramatic or noticeable spurts. As long as your baby is eating frequently enough, producing wet and dirty diapers, and following their own curve on the growth chart you can be confident that they’re growing well.
As mentioned before, it’s likely that there will be some behavioral changes that suggest your little one is putting in extra work on growing. Seeing the following signs can mean that a burst of growth or development is in the works.
- Additional feedings. If your baby is suddenly very interested in cluster feeding or doesn’t seem as satisfied after finishing their bottle of breast milk or formula they may just have an increased appetite to match the demands of their growing body.
- Change in sleep. This can go hand in hand with the extra feedings (who doesn’t love a midnight snack?). This change can mean waking early from naps, more middle of the night wakings, or (if you’re one of the lucky ones!) longer or more frequent naps. In fact,
a 2011 studysuggested that increased sleep bouts were a predictor for an increase in length within 48 hours.
- Crankiness. Even the most cheerful babies can get a little grouchy during a growth spurt. Increased hunger, disturbed sleep patterns, and even growing pains could be the cause.
- Feed them when they’re hungry. If your breastfed little one is normally happy to go three hours between feeds but suddenly seems hungry after only 2 hours (or less), go ahead and feed on demand. This will typically only last a few days and the extra feeds will ensure that your supply meets their needs. If your little one is using formula or pumped milk you may want to offer an extra ounce during daytime feeds or between meals if they still seem hungry.
- Help them sleep. Do your best to follow their lead if they need additional rest. If you can’t seem to get them to sleep, call on your patience even if things are a bit more challenging at bedtime or with night wakings. It’s important to maintain your usual bedtime routine and schedule when possible through this brief interruption. It will make getting back on track easier once you’re through the growth spurt.
- Be patient and loving. Offer up extra cuddles and soothing time together. When they are fussy you can try skin-to-skin, bathing, reading, singing, rocking, walks outside, or whatever your baby enjoys.
- Take good care of yourself. It’s not just your baby going through these changes. They can be hard on you, too. Pay attention to your own needs for nourishment and rest. Let others who love your baby help with care so you can get breaks.
- Pay attention to baby’s overall health. Since babies can’t tell us how they’re feeling that first year it can hard to know for sure when things aren’t right. If your child is experiencing other symptoms beyond what is described above consider whether it may be something other than a growth spurt. If your baby shows signs of illness like a fever, rash, dehydration (fewer wet or dirty diapers), or other issues make sure to talk to your pediatrician.
Before you know it your tiny little newborn will be a (dare we say it?) toddler. They have a lot of growing to do to get there, and it won’t always be easy. Luckily they have you there to keep them fed, love them through the challenges, and celebrate their amazing growth.