Understanding Baby Growth Spurts

Why these non-stop feedings are vital for your baby and your milk supply

Mother holding baby by window.
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Let me guess. You finally found a comfortable rhythm to your baby's eating patterns, when suddenly out of the blue he's feeding like a shark in fish-infested waters. Maybe you find yourself wondering if you're making enough breastmilk, or if your baby needs to start solids.

There's likely nothing wrong with your baby—he really isn't starving (though it may seem like he is). In fact, periodic baby growth spurts are perfectly normal, and likely explain this seemingly ravenous behavior.

What Is a Baby Growth Spurt?

A baby growth spurt is quite simply a sudden burst in your infant's growth that is accompanied by a brief period of increased feeding. It may seem like overnight your baby outgrew his cute little sleeper, and in fact, he really did!

Growth spurts generally don't last for more than two to three days, but can certainly feel like you are trapped in a never-ending feeding cycle during the hunger stretch. The best thing you can do during these periods is recruit some help and hunker down through the increase of feedings.

If you are breastfeeding, growth spurts will help increase your milk supply. So don't give up on nursing during these periods.

When Do Growth Spurts Happen?

Though there are typical ages when growth spurts often appear, all babies grow and develop uniquely. So don't necessarily expect that a growth spurt will happen exactly on the predicted timeline. That said, in your baby's first year it's possible that you'll see about five growth spurts sometime around 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.

Breastfeeding mothers may also notice a few more intense feeding patterns in the early weeks. These are known as cluster feedings and are important in establishing milk supply and encouraging weight gain in your baby.

Symptoms of a Growth Spurt

In addition to eating non-stop, your baby might seem to be fussier than normal.

Cranky behavior can be par for the course during growth spurts. He might wake more frequently from naps or nighttime sleep as well.

During the newborn period, it's best to feed your little sprout through these spurts. You may want to talk to your pediatrician on how to handle frequent night waking of your older baby, however. If your baby has had a solid weight gain pattern, you may not want to go back to return to feeding your older baby more frequently during the night.

Still Worried?

So you have read all this, but still have the nagging sense of worry that your baby is not getting enough or that something is wrong with your milk production. Keep an eye on diaper count. What goes in must come out! After your baby is older than 5 days old, you should expect 5 to 6 soaking diapers a day.

Or give a call to your pediatrician and see if you can come in for a weight check. These can often be done as a quick nurse's visit and  seeing the pointer on the scale go up can be just what you need to feel more confident in your baby's growth.

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