How Your Baby’s Growth Spurts May Affect Feedings

0-12 Months

During the first year of your baby’s life, you are both going to experience a lot of changes. You’ve probably seen everyone’s hashtags about how they want their kids to #stopgrowing because time really does fly with a little one. But that doesn’t mean the days aren’t going to be long, especially when your little one is going through a growth spurt. Find out what to expect when growth spurts happen and get tips for how to deal.

When do growth spurts occur?

Growth spurts (both physical and developmental) can occur at any time during your baby’s first year, but some common ages are: 2 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months.

While these growth spurts can be challenging for Mom, Dad and baby, the good news is that they’re generally short-lived. A typical growth spurt only lasts for about 2 to 3 days.

What are the signs of a growth spurt?

Once your baby has had his first growth spurt, you’ll pick up on the signs of the next one much more easily. In the meantime, watch out for:

  • Frequent feedings—possibly every hour—in both breastfed and formula-fed babies. Breastfeeding moms: Your body gets the message and will produce more milk for your growing baby. You may be tempted to offer formula to supplement these nursing sessions, but that can actually disrupt your milk production, causing you to produce less than what your baby needs.
  • Increased fussiness.
  • Older babies who have slept for longer periods may begin to wake again to nurse, so even if it disrupts your routine, know that it’s for a good cause.

5 tips for dealing with growth spurts

While growth spurts don’t last very long, they can take a toll on everyone. Here are some tips to help you get through these challenging times:

  1. Ask for extra help. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, let someone bring you the baby when he’s hungry and then take him away for burping, a diaper change or to lay him back to sleep.
  2. Rest whenever you can. You’re going to need it!
  3. Feed your baby on demand during growth spurts. He needs the extra nutrition, so it’s best to not schedule feedings or to try and lengthen the time between feedings with a pacifier. (A pacifier is still great for soothing, but not when your baby is showing signs he’s hungry.)
  4. Know that your routine may be thrown off for a few days, but trust that either you’ll be able to get back to it once the growth spurt is over or that maybe you and your baby will create a new one.
  5. Don’t let a growth spurt affect your confidence. This happens to every baby, so it’s completely out of your control and has nothing to do with your abilities as a parent. The best thing you can do is comfort your baby and (again) rest whenever you can. You’re both going through a lot.