When Can I Expect My Baby to Have Growth Spurts?

When Can I Expect My Baby to Have Growth Spurts? | Baby Chick

By Aimee Ketchum

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

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Ketchum is a pediatric occupational therapist practicing in the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric out-patient at Central Pennsylvania Rehab Services (CPRS) at the Heart of Lancaster Hospital. Also certified in newborn massage and instructing yoga to children with special needs, Ketchum is the owner/operator of Aimee’s Babies LLC, a child development company. Through Aimee’s Babies, Ketchum has published 3 DVDs and 9 apps which have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show and Iphone Essentials Magazine. Ketchum is one of the five finalists in the National Word Gap Challenge through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She will compete against 4 other large organizations and Universities in March 2017 in the finals of the Word Gap Challenge.

Ketchum has been working in pediatrics for 18 years and is currently pursuing her doctorate at Philadelphia University. Ketchum lives in Lititz, PA with her husband and two daughters and enjoys running marathons and half-marathons and directing elementary school musicals in her spare time.

Baby Growth Spurts

You just bought the three-month-old onesie and it already fits your baby like a body stocking! Another growth spurt?…probably. Babies grow at very different rates, typically losing 10% of their body weight in the days immediately after they are born, then gaining weight at an average rate of  2⁄3 of an ounce (20–30 grams) per day. Babies typically grow between 1 1⁄2 and 2 inches during the first month. Boys tend to weigh slightly more than girls. Boys also tend to be slightly longer than girls at this age according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  This baby growth does not happen in a smooth, gradual manner. Growth occurs in “spurts” throughout the first year of life and after. It has been reported in Sleep that infant growth in length does follow prolonged sleep and more frequent naps. As you might expect, babies grow so much throughout the first 12 months that their weight typically triples during the first year of life. Believe it or not, there usually is a way to predict when these growth spurts will occur.

Growth spurts usually last for one to two days for babies under six months and up to a week for older babies. They may be very noticeable with weight gain and tight little onesies, or you may not notice at all. 

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Growth Spurt Signs

What are the tell-tale signs that a growth spurt is imminent? Your baby may require additional sleep. Research show that babies may sleep up to four additional hours in one to two days before or during a growth spurt. You may notice deeper, more restful sleep during the night and longer naps during the day. Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced in the brain during sleep and it is a critical component of your baby’s healthy growth pattern. It is also possible, although far rarer for some babies to sleep less during a growth spurt. They may be more restless than usual and take shorter naps.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that growth spurts are related to more frequent bursts of sleep, peaks in total daily sleep duration, and number of sleep episodes throughout the day. They also found that the probability of a growth spurt increases by a median of 43% for each additional sleep episode throughout the day and 20% for each additional hour of sleep.

You may also notice that your baby’s behavior changes during a growth spurt, leaving them a little bit more irritable and clingy. This could be due to less sleep or just the exhaustion from the energy required for growing. You may also find that during breast-feeding and bottle feeding your baby will latch, then unlatch while fussing in between.

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Change in eating habits can also be a sign of a growth spurt. Some studies show that feeding spurts when your baby wants to eat more often and for longer periods are associated with growth spurts and other studies show no correlation. Some babies will want to breastfeed up to 16 times in one day or every hour while awake. This is also called “frequency days”.

Your baby may wake up more frequently during the night, looking for food during a growth spurt. He may also wake up earlier from naps during a growth spurt because he is feeling a little bit restless.

Do Growth Spurts Hurt Your Baby?

 Though your baby may be irritable and even act like she is in pain, growth spurts do not hurt your baby. Your baby may feel unsettled, extra tired and dissatisfied during a growth spurt, but this does not affect their general health.

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If you suspect that there is a secondary issue going on, such as teething or an ear infection, it is important to trust your instinct and get advice from your child’s healthcare provider.

There is some research that shows that babies have a higher incidence of getting sick during or immediately after a growth spurt secondary to lowered immunity associated with a growth spurt. Pediatricians believe that maintaining your baby’s schedule as much as possible, and providing healthy formula, breastmilk and nutrient-rich food can help protect your child against getting sick.

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Typical Baby Growth Spurt Timeline

Some babies have growth spurts randomly at any time, but research shows that most babies fit their rapid periods of growth into certain points in their development.

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  • Between one and three weeks
  • Between six and eight weeks
  • Three months
  • Six months
  • Nine months
  • Twelve months 

How to care for yourself during your baby’s growth spurt.

Baby growth spurts can be exhausting for mom and dad, especially nursing mommas! As always, take care of yourself first. If your baby is extra fussy or clingy, try to bring in some help for an hour or two so you can get a shower, hit the gym or go for a walk. That fresh air will do you a world of good! If your baby is wanting to feed constantly, maybe take turns. Daddy can bottle feed in between breast-feedings with expressed milk if your baby will allow it. There is no need to supplement with formula. Your body will produce extra milk supply if your baby is demonstrating a demand for it. Whether you are breast-feeding or not, try to drink plenty of water and eat plenty of nutrient-dense meals. The vitamins and minerals found in whole foods will help you and your little one get through this transition time.  Try to sleep when your baby sleeps or at least lie down during her nap time so you are well-rested and ready for the next day.

The good news is that baby is growing and developing exactly the way she is supposed to and the growth spurt only lasts a few days, and then they are usually back to their normal selves. Of course you will need to buy a few new onesies!

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