Breastfeeding Tips: Growth Spurts

What Is It? When Does It Happen? What Can You Do?

Babies breastfeed more often during a growth spurt. Perkus/Getty Images

What Is A Growth Spurt?

Newborns and infants do not grow a consistent rate. They have periods when they slowly gain weight and increase in height, and then all of a sudden, they seem to just sprout up and experience a quick burst of growth. These sudden increases in growth are called growth spurts. Each child is different and goes through grow spurts at different times, however some of the common ages when growth spurts occur are: 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months.

What Happens During A Growth Spurt?

During a growth spurt, your baby is growing in size. As his body grows, he will need more breast milk. So, it may seem like your child wants to breastfeed continuously. You may see constant signs of hunger and you may even begin to wonder if you're making enough breast milk for your baby. But, don't get discouraged, just keep putting your baby to the breast. By breastfeeding very frequently for just a few days, your body will respond by increasing the production of breast milk to meet the nutritional needs of your growing child.

Is It Really A Growth Spurt?

Breastfeeding through a growth spurt should only last for a couple of days until your milk supply increases in response to your baby's demand. After a day of two of constant nursing, your baby should begin to settle back down into a routine and nurse less often. If your baby still needs to breastfeed constantly after 3 days, check with the doctor.

Constant hunger that is not associated with a growth spurt could indicate a low milk supply.

Tips For Breastfeeding Through A Growth Spurt

Breastfeed Very Often: It may seem like your baby wants to nurse constantly during a growth spurt, but stick with it. The frequent nursing will stimulate your body to make more breast milk to meet the needs of your growing child.

Get Enough Rest: It can be exhausting to breastfeed through a growth spurt. Besides constantly putting the baby to the breast, your body is using up energy to increase the amount of breast milk that you're making. Take this time to put your feet up and rest. It's OK to let the housework go for a few day and ask for a little help with other children or chores if you need it.

Eat A Healthy Diet and Drink Plenty of Fluids: A healthy breastfeeding diet along with an appropriate fluid intake can help to keep you energized and hydrated while your body is working overtime to increase milk production. This is also a good time to add some nutritious, milk-making foods, such as oatmeal and dark green vegetables, to your diet.

Avoid Formula or Supplementation: While your baby is going through a growth spurt, it may be tempting to give him or her a supplement to help satisfy his increased appetite and give you a break from nursing. This is really not a good idea. Breastfeeding through the growth spurt, allows your body to build up to the milk supply necessary to meet your baby's needs.

Supplementing can interfere with this process.



American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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