Do growth spurts really affect sleep in infants?
YES!!!!!!! Growth spurts Most definitely affect your babies sleep patterns.
Telling all your mommy friends how easy baby has been since day one, and then quickly swallowing your words wondering if there was a baby swap during 12 and 2am? From an easy breastfed baby, a champion eater to a grumpy little one? We have all experienced the dreaded growth spurts but we can be more prepared if we see the signs and know the timelines, better equipping us to cope!
Thankfully, baby growth spurts are usually short lived. The key is to know what to expect so you aren’t caught off guard! Here’s what you need to know, so you and baby can handle a growth spurt without it being too hard on the both of you.
WHEN CAN YOU ANTICIPATE A GROWTH SPURT?
In your baby’s first year she will gain, on average, three times her birth weight and between 20 to 25 centimetres in length.
Leaps of brain and body development is crammed into days or weeks during the first year. These days of rapid growth and development are sometimes accompanied by fussiness and disruptions in your baby’s sleeping and eating routines.
Baby growth spurts occur around about the following times:
- Day 2 (Usually night two into your baby’s new world is a big adjustment as the gut flora establishes preparing for the transition between colostrum and breast milk.)
- 2-3 weeks
- 4-6 Weeks
- 3 Months
- 6 Months
- 9 Months
- 12 Months
However, take note: All babies are different, so your personal experience may differ from the next mom you talk to. As your baby grows from being a busy toddler to childhood, growth spurts will continue but become longer and more spaced out. However, the same patterns of hunger, aches, pains and need for more sleep will continue.
HOW LONG DO GROWTH SPURTS LAST?
Baby growth spurts only last about three days. Thankfully!
RECOGNISING GROWTH SPURTS
Here are some key signs to look out for if you think baby is going through a growth spurt:
- Give me more food mamma!
Your baby wants to nurse more than usual, sometimes every 20 minutes (which might leave you worrying about your milk supply)! It might feel to you like she’s regularly cluster feeding, especially at night. Or it can be the complete opposite, she might lose her appetite, but demand a lot of comfort nursing. Good news? All that feeding will UP your milk supply!
This is the norm for babies going through a growth spurt. Along with being a little more clingy. Just wait it out and give your little one the attention they crave and within a few days, symptoms will subside.
- Sleep routine in disarray?
Just when you thought you finally have this sleeping routine under control, the frequent waking times during the night have you questioning your sanity. “Studies show that hormones responsible for bone growth are created during sleep, so a few days of increased napping might lead to a significant difference in their size, but it could also disrupt nighttime sleep routine.”
Is this my baby?
A once interested and cheerful baby wants to be with you all the time, she/he’s more hesitant and fearful of others, which you may interpret as a sign of developmental regression or an attachment issue. (It’s not!) Personality changes at this time are very normal.
COPING WITH BABY GROWTH SPURTS
- Acceptance! Clear your schedule
This is a time where your baby will be extra needy and if you have a lot to do, it will just be extra frustrating. If you can, clear your schedule, to make life easier for you and baby. For moms who work full time outside of the home, this probably isn’t feasible, but you could possibly tweak or rearrange appointments for more flexibility.
- Wear that baby
Baby-wearing has got many ‘a mom’ out of tough times. Baby easily falls asleep or nurses snuggled close to your body and you are hands-free, so you can get some things done. Going shirtless during this time is a good idea, so that you can get a nice oxytocin boost from the skin-to-skin contact, helping to boost both of your moods (not to mention mom’s breast milk supply).
- Don’t forget to care for yourself
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you are eating healthy meals and drinking plenty of fluids during your babies growth spurts. This is very important, as you’re in a “growth spurt” right along with your baby. Extra support from family and friends during this crucial time is important. Don’t hesitate to ask for help with housework, childcare, and meal prep when you need the extra rest.
- Feed when in need
Breastfed babies want to feed more during a growth spurt (a growing baby is a hungry baby!). Make sure you follow your baby’s cues for feeding, offer your baby the breast when she shows early signs of hunger. Give more frequent feeds rather than fewer feeds that last longer, so that your milk supply can respond naturally to any increased demand.
- Take care of your breasts (for breastfeeding moms)
So all the feeding that is required during a growth spurt can leave your breasts feeling tender and engorged. Treat full breasts by nursing or hand expressing. Do frequent breast massaging to keep your breast tissue soft (a warm shower or bath might help, too). More frequent feeding can also bring on sore nipples, so wear loose-fitting tops and use lanolin on nipples or soak your nipples in 1 part epsom salts and 3 parts water once a day to help.
- Let go of expectations
As sleep and feeding habits temporarily shift, keep an open mind, and remember that this phase won’t last forever. Keep in mind that increased fussiness and hunger is a positive sign that your baby is growing and developing well. Challenge yourself to appreciate these growing pains just as much as the amazing developmental milestones that they bring.
FORMULA-FED BABIES DURING GROWTH SPURTS
If your little one is on formula, try to increase the number of feeds, but do this gradually. Stick to the recommended number of bottles for your baby’s weight, and if you add an extra feeding, do so only for a few days. Know that if your baby spits up after a feeding, it probably means she’s getting too much formula and you can then readjust the amount.
Now you should have a good idea of what to expect and how to handle a growth spurt.
If you need any help with your babies sleep, feel free to contact me. We are happy to help!
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