growth spurts in babies

Baby’s growth spurt survival guide

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Growth spurts in babies are a necessary evil. It sounds harsh to call them evil, I know. But anyone in the throes of a baby’s growth spurt doesn’t think that’s a harsh description. Trust me, it can be overwhelming!

Growth spurts in babies are a necessary evil. It sounds harsh to call them evil, I know. But anyone in the throes of a baby’s growth spurt doesn’t think that’s a harsh description. Trust me, it can be overwhelming!

And if you’ve ever experienced a rough growth spurt, you’re nodding your head right now and saying “Yaaaas girl! Growth spurts are the devil!”

growth spurts in babies

Of course, we know they’re necessary and we want our wee dumpling to grow. But does it have to be so awful? I don’t think so. There are a few things you can do to not only survive this growth spurt but THRIVE in the midst of it.

How to recognize growth spurts in babies

First things first, is your baby actually having a growth spurt? The best way to tell is by checking your baby’s actions.

Is she drinking more than usual?

Has she been unusually fussy or clingy?

Is she sleeping differently than she normally does?

Does it seem like she’s craving more body contact with you?

Two or three of these symptoms together would make a very strong case for a growth spurt. Read this Quick Guide to Growth Spurts for a full list of symptoms you and baby may experience during a growth spurt.

Focus on the Basics

While your baby is going through a growth spurt it’s really important to remember two things:

  1. Just because it’s out of the ordinary doesn’t mean this situation needs to be “fixed.”
  2. This is tempory. It’s not your new normal!

The best thing you can do during a growth spurt is to embrace it! Don’t fight a single thing. Does baby want to nurse more? Let her have it. Does she crave contact? Skin-to-skin contact is amazing for both of you, so whip off those shirts and snuggle up. (Yeah, even if you have a really cool nursing shirt like this one!)

In a day or two, this will all be behind you. In the meantime, just go with the flow. Give your baby whatever she seems to need right now because her needs are legitimate. Don’t worry about spoiling the baby. That won’t happen. When this growth spurt passes, she won’t crave quite so much attention.

The next best thing you can do is to get back down to the basics of eating and sleeping.

Eating during a growth spurt

During a growth spurt, your baby may seem like a very literal bottomless pit. How can anyone so small gulp down so much milk???

She may start cluster feeding and not be the least bit interested in ever breaking her latch. Ever.

As much as you might feel like a prisoner, you’re not! The constant nursing serves three purposes:

  1. It calms your baby. She feels different right now and may be nervous about what’s going on. The contact and familiarity of you – the most important person in her world – soothes her nerves and helps her to stay calm.
  2. It pumps extra nutrition into her rapidly-growing body.
  3. It increases your milk supply to accomodate a bigger baby.

So see? You’re NOT a prisoner! For 2 or 3 days it’ll seem like you’re stuck in that chair with a hungry, hungry hippo; but soon enough this growth spurt will be over and you’ll be back to your usual routine.

Once again, don’t fight it. Instead, USE IT for your own purposes. Like binge-watching your favorite show? Because if baby needs you there, how can you say no? 😉

Sleep during a growth spurt

In my experience, the single worst thing about growth spurts is that it messes up the sleep. Parent’s and baby’s. They somehow managed to sleep more and less all at the same time! They napped more during the day. Then they kept waking at night, so we got less night-time sleep. It felt totally catastrophic to me. And that’s completely normal sleep behavior in a growth spurt.

You may also notice that when your little lovely is sleeping, she’s sleeping muuuuch deeper. She’s probably drooling, snoring, and hard to wake.

sleep during growth spurt in babies

By the way, don’t even try to wake her. Let her sleep, because that’s when she’s doing her best growing! The more rest she has, the faster this growth spurt will pass. (I don’t actually have scientific data to back that up, but I fully believe it. Let’s just call it a mom’s intuition.)

How to Make It Easier (for both of you!)

So yes, growth spurts can be painful. Fortunately, you don’t have to just suffer through it. There are a few things you can do right now to make this experience easier for you both. And anyone else in the house.

  • Feed on demand. Give your baby her nutrition and boost your milk supply all at the same time!
  • Give baby lots of skin-to-skin contact. It’ll soothe her nerves and yours too. Bonus: it also increases milk supply so she won’t have to nurse so much to increase it!
  • Realize that your baby isn’t being difficult on purpose. She really does need more milk and more comfort.
  • Make sure your baby is putting out 5-6 wet diapers a day so you know she’s not dehydrated. It’ll also reassure your mom brain that your milk supply isn’t low and you’re not starving the baby.
  • Wear your baby in a wrap or a baby carrier. Babywearing will give her the closeness she craves and still allows you to get some things accomplished.
  • Realize that babies cry because they have a need they can’t express. Try to stay patient. I know that’s hard sometimes.
  • Don’t overlook your feelings. If you feel stressed, touched-out, or victimized by a squawling infant, get someone else to snuggle them for a while.
  • Since one purpose of more frequent nursing is to increase your milk supply, avoid using supplements or pumped milk if at all possible.
  • Caring doesn’t equal spoiling. I repeat, CARING DOESN’T EQUAL SPOILING. No matter what anyone says.

This too shall pass

After a tumultuous 2 or 3 days, your baby’s growth spurt will leave. She’ll go back to eating the way she did before. You’ll be producing more milk, even if it doesn’t feel like you are. And hopefully she’ll sleep better than ever.

As overwhelming as a growth spurt with its sleep disruptions/cluster feedings/crying jags can feel in the moment, the best thing you can do in the midst of overwhelm is to simply be. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.

Struggling against your baby’s needs only makes everything harder. So drop your expectations and don’t try to do anything that isn’t strictly necessary. Focus on the basics of feeding and sleeping.

So what if that means you and baby spend 2 days topless on the couch? You probably won’t need to do that, but if you do need to then make those 2 topless days the best ever.

Wrap your little sweetie in a baby carrier to keep her close when you need to be up and about. Try not to feed her anything but milk directly from the breast. And give your baby everything she wants during this time. Before you know it, you won’t recognize your little munchkin. They really do grow too fast!

Have you ever had a growth spurt rock your world for a few days? Tell me about it in the comments! How did you survive?

survival guide growth spurts in babies

Resources

https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/cluster-feeding-and-growth-spurts
https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/ask-heidi/baby-growth-spurts.aspx
http://drjaygordon.com/breastfeeding/growthspurts.html

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