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Understanding the Baby Growth Spurt

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Updated May 30, 2014

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 is feeding like a shark in fish-infested waters. Maybe you find yourself wondering if you are making enough breastmilk or if your baby needs to start solids. Chances are good that there is nothing wrong with your baby, he really is not starving (though it may seem like he is). All babies experience periodic growth baby growth spurts which 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 2 to 3 days, but can certainly make it feel like you are constantly feeding your baby during the hunger stretch. The best thing you can do during these periods is recruit some help and hunker down and snuggle your way through the increase of feedings.

If you are breastfeeding, growth spurts also serve the purpose of increasing your milk supply. So, particularly during the newborn period, it is important to breastfeed through these periods of growth.

When Do Growth Spurts Happen:

Though there are typical ages when growth spurts often appear, first thing you should know is that all babies grow and develop uniquely. Don't necessarily expect that a growth spurt will happen exactly on the predicted timeline. That being said, in your baby's first year it is possible that you will see about 5 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 as well. Cluster feeding is very common in breastfed newborns and are important in establishing milk supply and encouraging weight gain in your baby. Frequent feedings in the early weeks are completely normal and to be expected.

What are the Symptoms of a Growth Spurt:

In addition to filling up on the endless buffet and 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 is best to feed through these spurts. You may want to talk to your pediatrician on how to handle frequent night waking of your older baby. 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. Read here for tips to calm your fussy baby?

Still Worried?:

So you have read all this, but you still have the nagging sense of worry that your baby is not getting enough or, if your breastfeeding, that something is wrong with your milk production. A very easy way to get reassurance is to count your baby's wet diapers. 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.

If you are still bothered with concerns, 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 confidant in your baby's growth.

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