What on earth is happening? Relax ― you aren’t doing anything wrong, nor has bubba come down with some strange illness. These may be signs that your baby is going through a growth spurt, also known as periods of infant growth that happen in short, intense bursts between normal growth periods.
Elaborating on what a normal growth period is, Dr Rajeev Ramachandran, senior consultant, Division of General Ambulatory Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the National University Hospital, says, “Healthy babies grow in a predictable fashion, and the progression in weight, length and head circumference happen at a steady rate. Birthweight doubles around 5 months and triples by 1 year. Height doubles by around 4 years.”
Growth spurts typically occur at between 2 and 3 weeks (of birth), 4 and 6 weeks, and again at about 3 months, 6 months and 9 months of age. Babies are also likely to go through a few episodes of two- to four-day growth spurt periods, Dr. Ramachandran adds.
While babies may exhibit different behaviours during a growth spurt, several common features define this phenomenon. So, look out for the following signs:
“During a growth spurt, your baby may suddenly become insatiable and want to feed frequently by latching on to the breast at every given opportunity… He or she may also be dissatisfied even after the usual amount of feeds.”
1) Increased hunger
“During a growth spurt, your baby may suddenly become insatiable and want to feed frequently by latching on to the breast at every given opportunity,” notes Dr Ramachandran. “He or she may also be dissatisfied even after the usual amount of feeds.”
In fact, your baby may even go from feeding eight or nine times a day to as many as 12 to 14 times. During this period, it’s important to let your baby feed more often. Follow her lead, and breastfeed her when she appears hungry.
“Within a few days, your baby will go back to a more typical feeding pattern,” he assures. “I’d also recommend being more liberal with feedings during the day, but holding off on any extra night-time feeds.”
2) Disturbed sleep
“Your baby may have usually been a good sleeper, but she may now wake up very frequently, get restless and subsequently demand feeds,” Dr. Ramachandran notes.
Additionally, you may observe your bub taking shorter naps during the day. To keep up with her constant awakenings, be sure to take good care of yourself, so you’ll have the energy to tend to them. Eat regular meals, drink lots of water and don’t hesitate to let family and friends help with chores and errands.
3) Increased sleepiness
Thankfully, not all babies sleep less during growth spurts. In contrast, some babies may sleep a lot more than usual. They may wake up less during the night, fall asleep faster or take an increased number of naps.
While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this happens, increased sleepiness is a sign that your baby is channelling her energy towards growing. Sleep also plays a crucial role in the production of the human growth hormone (HGH), which ― as you can probably guess ― is essential for infant growth.
So, don’t be alarmed if your little one suddenly begins to sleep a couple of extra hours. Grab the opportunity to catch up on your own sleep as well, bearing in mind that they’ll be back to their usual self, before you know it!
“Some parents also observe that their baby becomes particularly irritable during the day,” notes Dr Ramachandran. “This is especially so for babies who don’t get a good stretch of sleep during this rapid growth period.”
Fussiness may be exhibited by your baby’s desire to be carried all the time, and crying whenever you attempt to lay her down. Even if your baby has a usually mild and quiet disposition, she may suddenly become cranky and restless. This is because she’s now more hungry and tired than usual because of the rapid growth that’s taking place in their tiny body.
“It’s also not necessary (or advised) to supplement your baby with formula or expressed milk during a growth spurt…and will prevent your body from getting the message to make more milk during the growth spurt.”
Ensuring your baby’s growth is on track
Dr Ramachandran explains, “To make sure a baby’s growth is on track, we usually use growth curves to plot height, weight and head circumference regularly, as an indication of whether babies are growing within the normal range. This should be done during regular clinic visits for health checks and vaccinations.”
Additionally, parents can also take note of other normal physical growth signs, including:
* A healthy appetite. To be sure that your baby is drinking enough breastmilk, check that she’s going through at least 8 to 10 wet diapers a day, and drinking around 60ml to 180ml of liquid per feeding (by 3 months).
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