During their first year, your baby will grow and develop every week. Most of the time this growth will be gradual, but at certain points, in their development, your baby will pass through growth spurts where they grow much quicker. These growth spurts are demanding, and you may see changes in your routine and your little one’s behaviour, but don’t worry our guide below is here to help you identify the signs and understand what you can do to help.
To help you understand your baby’s growth, here we’ll run through everything you need to know about baby growth spurts. We’ll explain what they are, the signs to look out for and what you can do to help your baby.
What is a baby growth spurt?
Growth spurts are short periods of very intense growth where your baby grows taller and puts on more weight.
Babies grow continuously and pretty dramatically during their first year. Most babies double their birth weight by five months and triple it by 12 months. Usually, this growth is gradual – a steady change week by week. However, at certain stages during your baby’s first year they’ll grow particularly quickly as they pass through a growth spurt.
How long do baby growth spurts last?
Most baby growth spurts are relatively short, lasting from three to seven days. All babies are unique however, so some can have shorter growth spurts and others a couple of days longer.
When do babies have growth spurts?
Most babies have multiple growth spurts during their first 12 months, usually:
- Between 1 to 3 weeks of age
- At 6 weeks
- At 3 months
- At 6 months
- At 9 months
But we all know that babies don’t stick to schedules, meaning your little one may have growth spurts at different times. Newborn growth spurts can be more frequent, and they may have a couple during their first month, sometimes at three or four days old and then again around three weeks.
Rather than using a calendar to try and predict baby growth spurts, it’s better to focus on your baby to watch out for the signs they’re passing through a growth spurt.
What are the signs of a baby growth spurt?
Even though your baby will be growing faster than usual during a growth spurt, you won’t visibly see any changes during this phase. To know when they are undergoing a growth spurt, look out for a combination of the following signs we’ve put together for you:
- Feeding more: Your baby will be putting in some serious work in the growth department and will need more food than usual. Watch out for your little one wanting to feed more often (this can be frustrating if they’ve stopped feeding at night but wake up at 3 am and demand milk). They may need more food during each feed too and may not be satisfied with the amount of milk they usually drink. Or the amount of food they usually eat if they’ve progressed to solid foods.
- Sleeping more: Growing is tough work, and as well as eating more your little one may need to sleep more often – this includes having more frequent naps – and they may need to sleep for longer (joy!).
- Sleeping less: Yes, the opposite of what we just said above. Some babies sleep more during growth spurts, but some sleep less as hunger disrupts their sleep. This means they may wake at night and earlier in the morning. Your baby may do both – sleeping more often but for shorter periods for example as he or she may wake faster to feed.
- Being fussier and grouchier: During growth spurts, babies grow at a rate that not even teenagers experience. It’s difficult for us to appreciate just how demanding and exhausting these periods can be but trust us they are. You may find your baby is fussier, more prone to anger and crying, and takes longer to settle and sleep during a growth spurt. Your little one is worn-out, and let’s face it none of us are at our best when we’re tired.
Each of the above signs of a growth spurt can have different causes that aren’t related to growth. Starting to crawl and walk can increase appetites, teething can disrupt sleep and make babies cranky, as can an illness. If the above signs happen in combination and you can’t detect any alternative causes, chances are your little one is going through a growth spurt.
What can I do to help with a baby growth spurt?
So, if you think your baby is in the midst of a growth spurt what can you do to help? Try the following:
- Feed your baby more: If your baby usually goes a certain amount of time between feeds but seems hungrier faster, don’t wait. Simply feed them earlier. If they normally drink a certain amount of milk or eat a certain amount of food but don’t seem satisfied, offer them more than you usually would.
- More naps: You’ve likely got a set routine of when and how often your little one naps throughout the day. But during a growth spurt, their needs may need change. It’s important to relax the routine and let them nap for longer or add another nap or two to the day if they need it.
- Try to avoid additional stress or activity: If your baby is going through a growth spurt, they’ll have less energy available for activities and play. So, if you were planning an all-day trip to the zoo, a long car journey to see family or other novel or strenuous activities, think about delaying them by a week or so.
- Pay attention to your baby’s health: As we previously mentioned, the above signs of a growth spurt can have other causes, like teething or an illness. Try to rule these out and look out for other symptoms – this could be a fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or skin rashes. If you’re in any doubt about your baby’s health, take them to see your doctor just to be on the safe side.
Watching your baby grow and develop into a walking, talking, laughing, food-hurling toddler is one of the greatest joys of being a parent. Knowing what baby growth spurts are, how to look out for them and what to do to help, can make sure your baby’s growth and development is as smooth and stress-free as it can be – for both your baby and you.