What are Growth Spurts? What can I expect during these times?
Most babies go through phases when they nurse more frequently than usual and for a longer duration. Sometimes they might nurse for hours together. Babies are also a little fussier during this time. Some people call it ‘frequency days’, some call it ‘wonder weeks’. It is more popularly referred to as – ‘Growth Spurts’.
Usually, a growth spurt lasts for 2 to 3 days. Sometimes, it may last for a week. As the baby nurses more frequently, it clearly indicates an increase in baby’s intake. In the early weeks, the baby’s intake increases at each growth spurt and remains at that increased level, increasing more at the time of the next spurt. This is because the baby’s appetite rises rapidly in the first month. This is why it is essential to keep nursing on demand for the mother to keep her supply up with the rising needs of her growing baby.
After the first month, the increase in intake during growth spurts is more or less temporary.
When the mother breastfeeds the baby on demand, no matter the frequency and/or the duration of nursing sessions, she can easily cope up with this temporary increase in the baby’s demand. Once the growth spurt is over, the baby usually goes back to her regular nursing cycle. However, the nursing patterns keep changing throughout, and the best way to meet the baby’s needs is to keep nursing on demand.
Why is it called ‘Growth Spurt’?
A theory suggests that babies grow in spurts. It means that there are particular days, around a particular age, when babies suddenly grow at a very fast rate as compared to any other day(s). Even though, only a few small studies have been done to test this theory, it is widely accepted as it is reflected very distinctly in most babies’ nursing patterns. According to this theory, it’s not just physical growth that occurs during the growth spurts. Babies reach developmental milestones too after going through a spurt e.g. rolling over,sitting up, crawling, walking, talking etc.
When do Growth Spurts occur?
Growth spurts are most noticeable in the first year of the baby’s life. A tentative reference table is given below to understand when to expect a growth spurt. Please know that each baby is different and there’s no set rule to how a baby grows.
Many mothers have observed that their babies nurse like a newborn around their birthdays. This is specifically observed by women who have continued to nurse their babies for 3 years and more.
How to cope with a baby going through a growth spurt?
It can be difficult to cope with a fussy baby wanting to nurse seemingly all the time. Some do’s and don’ts might help parents deal with this situation better.
Nurse the baby on demand
Nurse lying down to get some rest and sleep
Take help of partner and/or other family members
Have plenty of fluids and keep yourself hydrated
Don’t look at the clock (Don’t limit the nursing frequency or duration)
Don’t doubt your supply
Don’t offer formula thinking baby is staying hungry even after nursing (when in doubt, check the pee/poop count)
Don’t hesitate to eat to hunger as you may feel more hungry during spurts since you’re nursing more frequently.