Baby Growth Spurts: When They Happen, Signs And Tips To Manage

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Babies do grow overnight!

Mothers see their babies growing suddenly due to a growth spurt. While this is a happy thing, it could be nerve wrecking too, because during a growth spurt, the baby could be cranky and fussy.

Baby growth spurts can be confusing, which is why MomJunction tells you what happens during a growth spurt and how the baby is affected by it. Read on!

What Is Growth Spurt In Babies?

Growth spurt in babies is a considerable increase in their physical development such as the weight, height, and circumference of the head. The baby may achieve a developmental milestone during this phase as several layers of new cells add on in the body in a short duration.

When Do Babies Go Through Growth Spurts?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, growth spurts can occur at different ages (1). However, the specific ages are (2):

  • First growth spurt: Two weeks
  • Second growth spurt: Three weeks
  • Third growth spurt: Six weeks
  • Fourth growth spurt: Three months
  • Fifth growth spurt: Six months

In some babies, growth spurt can happen at a stage different from the above, and it may be faster or slower.

Therefore, look out for signs so that you can recognize your baby’s growth spurt.

[ Read: Baby Development Month By Month ]

What Are The Signs Of A Baby’s Growth Spurt?

Prominent life events occur when the baby is going through a growth spurt:

1. Rapid gain in height, weight, and head circumference:

  • Average height and weight growth (males and females):
Growth SpurtHeight GainWeight Gain
First, Second, Third, Fourth2.5 – 3.8cm (3)907g (4) (5)
Fifth1 – 2cm450 – 560g (6)
  • Average head circumference growth:
Growth SpurtMale Head Circumference Gain (7)Female Head Circumference Gain (8)
First, Second2.8cm2.6cm

The baby would gain more height and weight at the end of the sixth month (fifth growth spurt) than earlier and weighs double the birth weight (9).

Girls have more advanced skeletal maturation, but lower percentage increase in height than boys (10). The growth speed equalizes between both the genders after seven months.

2. Increase in hunger:

  • There is an increase in the baby’s appetite to meet the nutritional requirement of their body. This is referred to as feeding spurts.
  • Babies will demand extra food in their sixth month.
  • Babies who are still breastfeeding require feeds almost every waking hour.

3. Changes in sleep pattern:

  • Babies tend to sleep more during growth spurts. Research shows that sleep stimulates the production of human growth hormone, which facilitates the formation of additional body cells and thereby new tissue layers (11).
  • During a growth spurt, a baby can sleep four-and-a-half hours extra (on an average) every day (12).
  • The total sleeping hours will depend on what stage the infant is in. For example, an average three-month-old will sleep 14 hours a day (13), but during spurts of growth, he may sleep for 18.5 hours.

4. Behavioral changes:

  • Babies are usually fussy and clingy and may also throw tantrums frequently.
  • In many cases, fussiness could be the result of excessive hunger. When provided with food and comfort, the baby’s irritation may subside.
  • The causes of change in the baby’s behavior during the growth spurt are unknown. Some experts associate the cranky behavior to the temporary surge in the growth hormone of the body (14).

As growth spurt will last two to three days (15), you need to know how to deal with the situation.

[ Read: Important Milestones In Baby’s Life ]

How To Manage A Baby’s Growth Spurt?

Growth spurt in babies can be perplexing and tiring for a mother, but you can handle it by being prepared.

1. Feed the baby frequently:

  • Feeding at regular intervals to support the growth is called cluster feeding. Cluster feeding during growth spurt can be exhausting for the mother but the baby comes back to their regular nursing schedule after two to three days.
  • If the baby is formula-fed, then prepare a larger batch of formula milk.
  • If the infant is older than six months and fed on semi-solid food, then increase the number of meals he has in a day to meet his hunger demands.

2. Facilitate comfortable sleep for the baby:

  • A baby needs more sleep during growth spurts, which is why it is imperative to have a peaceful and undisturbed sleeping environment.
  • Newborns sleep for an equal number of hours during the day and night. However, from the third month, babies begin sleeping longer during the night (16).

3. Managing the baby’s behavior:

  • Stay calm when the baby is excessively fussy. Try feeding them, playing with their favorite toy, or doing something else to calm them. Cuddle with the baby for skin-to-skin contact.
  • Older infants tend to throw tantrums but understand basic commands and instructions. If the baby is cranky, show their favorite toy or food, and check if it helps them calm down.

Growth spurts can be tense moments for the parents but do not cause any problem to the baby, and some infants undergo a growth spurt without showing any visible signs. There is no need to fret about your little one in any case. However, there are some signs you must be watchful about during the days of a growth spurt.

[ Read: Baby girls growth chart ]

When To Be Concerned?

If your baby is showing these signs, then take him to a doctor for an expert opinion:

  1. Eats less and sleeps a lot: If baby is eating less and sleeping excessively, then it could be an indication of an underlying problem. Infants below 11 months must not sleep beyond 18 hours.
  1. Stays fussy mostly: If the baby is never happy no matter what you do, and has constant mood swings even after the three days of growth spurt, then you must consult a doctor.

Remember, each baby is different and grows differently, and it also depends on their gender. As long as the little one is healthy and happy, and attains his developmental milestones, you do not have to worry.

A few more feeding hours and attention will help you and the baby phase through the growth spurt days. So, cuddle up and experience the joy of a baby growth spurt.

How was the growth spurt of your baby? Do let us know by leaving a comment below.

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