Growth spurts are one of those unpredictable things that happen with your baby - often just as you think you've got everything sorted. Baby growth spurts are defined as a rapid rise in weight and height within a short period of time – usually a few days. In their first year, babies grow rapidly, gaining three times their birth weight, and growing, on average, between 8 and 10 inches.
During a growth spurt, your baby may suddenly be extremely hungry, drinking more milk than usual and more often. They may also sleep longer - or less! There are no hard and fast rules with growth spurts, except that your baby's likely to have them.
When do growth spurts normally happen?
There are often around 4-5 growth spurts in your baby's first year – but not always. These tend to occur at approximately:
- 1-3 weeks
- 4-6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
However, you'll find that different experts will predict growth spurts at slightly different times. If your baby seems to have a different pattern of growth spurts, don't worry. Every baby is unique and this is very normal.
What are the signs your baby is having a growth spurt?
1. Increased hunger
Expect more frequent feeding during baby growth spurts. Your little one's growing body needs those extra calories to support healthy development.
Signs your baby is feeding well
- You should be seeing five wet nappies a day.
- Healthy bowel movements can vary from a baby who poos a few times a day, to one who poos just once every few days.
- You should observe steady weight gain during your baby’s regular checks.
If your baby is not gaining weight, your health visitor will advise on what to do next.
2. Your baby needs more sleep during a growth spurt
Your baby’s usual sleep routine may be interrupted during a growth spurt, as they wake to feed during the night. However, more sleep is needed during baby growth spurts, and they will probably nap more. Your baby’s body does all the hard work of growing during shuteye because the growth hormone in young children is mainly secreted during sleep. Peak production of the growth hormone occurs in the early part of the night during stages of deep sleep. Babies really do grow overnight!
3. Your baby will become clingier during a growth spurt
There's a lot going on, and your baby will need extra reassurance from you during a growth spurt. Disrupted sleep may explain cranky behaviour and also, as your baby is developing and waking up to new experiences, they may be overwhelmed. Understanding this will help you deal with fussiness in your baby.
- Bond with your baby now. Giving your baby comfort, cuddles and reassurance will help them at this stage. Your baby may not show it, but they will appreciate your attention!
- Look after yourself. Remember, it's OK to ask your partner or family to help out if your baby is cranky and you've got your hands full. If your little one is up all night, try to sleep when they do in the daytime (easier said than done, we know, especially if you have older children). But if you can grab 40 winks, you'll feel all the better for it.
Remember - baby growth spurts mean progress!
It’s worth remembering that baby growth spurts are positive developments. Your baby may be demanding and unsettled – but they are making magical leaps forward!