Recognizing & Handling Growth Spurts in Babies

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Learn how to recognize and deal with growth spurts in babies. Babies grow on average 1 inch per month in the first 6 months of life. Learn when these growth spurts happen, and how to deal with them.

growth spurts in babies -example photo from month 1 to month 2. Baby is in the same day dreamer and is a couple of inches taller.

Growth Spurts in Babies

Find the following in this blog post:

  • How Much Is My Baby Growing?

  • When growth spurts happen

  • Recognizing  And Dealing With Growth Spurts

  • How long will a growth spurt last?

  • It may not be a growth spurt (what to look for)

How Much Is My Baby Growing?

Babies have a ton of physical growth in the first year. Most of this growth occurs during a growth spurt, and these growth spurts happen at predictable times. Obviously, babies don’t have a calendar out in front of them, but they can hit these marks give or take a week or two fairly consistently.

Notice how much Caroline has grown in just 2 months. This first picture is Caroline at 1 month of age:

growth spurts in babies -example photo from month 1

This photo is Caroline in her same day dreamer (which by the way is one of our favorite purchases – find it here at amazon), at 3 months of age. These photos are approximately 2 months apart. She grew 2 inches!

growth spurts in babies -example photo from month 3

How much babies grow in the first 6 months of life

In the first 6 months of life, babies can grow anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 inch every month. They can gain up to 7 ounces a week (this is about half a pound as there are 16 ounces in 1 pound).

Baby growth is just unreal!

These are big numbers if you think about it. Your baby could be 6 inches taller (half a ruler length) at their 6 month appointment. That’s a lot of growing!

Caroline was 20 inches when she was born, and at her 6 month appointment she was 26 inches long.  She was right on that 1 inch every month mark.

She was 7 lbs 6 oz at birth, and at her 6 month appointment she was 16 lbs 2 oz. At 6 months she was about 26 weeks old, and she had gained an average of 5.4 ounces per week. 

How much a baby grows in the second 6 months of life

In the second 6 months of life, babies can grow up to 3/8 of an inch each month. They can gain up to 5 ounces a week.

When growth spurts happen

Growth spurts happen around the same times for all babies give or take a week on either side. An easy way to remember it is 3-6-9. Growth spurts happen around the 3 week mark, the 6 week mark, and 9 week mark. There is also a 3 month growth spurt, a 6 month growth spurt, and a 9 month growth spurt.

growth spurts in babies- what to do and when to expect them

Remember these are guidelines. So, if at 2 weeks you think your baby might be in a growth spurt, you are probably right as that is only 1 week off of the 3 week mark!

Recognizing  And Dealing With Growth Spurts

There are some tell tale signs that your baby is in a growth spurt:

1- Waking in the middle of the night

You’ll notice this if it is out of the ordinary. In the younger weeks they may wake more frequently than you are used to. In the older months, you might be used to no night wakings and all of the sudden they are waking again.

If you need help with night wakings, start by getting your baby on a consistent schedule during the day. Use our schedules page to get started–> Schedule page.

What should you do?

Go ahead and feed your baby. You’ll probably notice that she is acting like you never feed her and is starving. Since this is likely not the case (LOL), you should assume it is a growth spurt. Go ahead and let her eat as she needs the strength to do all of this growing!

Don’t worry about starting a bad habit. Growth spurts are short lived, and you’ll recognize when she is no longer seemingly starving. Odds are your baby will go right back to sleeping through like they once were.

(Useful post alert) Click here to read about–> Growth Spurts while Breastfeeding

2- Waking early from naps

growth spurts in babies -example photo from month 1 to month 3

When babies are going through growth spurts they are extra hungry all the time. They may need to eat more frequently during the day, and as a result they may wake early.

What should you do?

Again, go ahead and feed your baby and adjust your schedule accordingly. This is normal behavior and will pass when the growth spurt is over.

Short naps?

Read this troubleshooting guide to the 45 minute intruder (short naps).

Short naps?

3- Baby is extra tired

You may find that when your baby wakes up they are still tired. Or perhaps they are wanting more naps or taking longer naps. This can happen during the growth spurt and/or directly afterwards.

What should you do?

They are exhausted from all that growing. Let them catch up a bit without getting too far off of schedule (my rule is no more than 30 minutes), so they don’t get too hungry.

4- Wanting more feeds

Did you just get done feeding your baby an hour ago and she seems to want more?

This could also be a sign of a growth spurt. She might be extra fussy, or sucking on her thumb, whining for food, etc.

Breastfeeding moms will often worry if this is a sign of a low breast milk supply or poor feeding.

How to rule out a breast milk supply issue:
  • Growth spurts are often almost over the minute you start fretting about the situation. They are temporary.
  • Low breast milk supply is not temporary. It will be like this until you take measures to fix it.
    • If you suspect supply issues, make sure you are in good health, hydrated and eating well. Taking care of mama is key!
    • Try stimulating your breasts with extra feedings, or pumping sessions to see if that increases your supply. Our bodies respond to this by making more milk.
What should you do if it’s a growth spurt?

You know your baby’s hunger signs. Try adjusting your feeding schedule to be 30 min earlier if this is the case. Be sure to continue with the eat wake sleep routines you have in place, however.

To read more about the eat wake sleep cycle, click here.

The great thing is that if you are following Babywise methods, routines and schedules with your baby, these growth spurts will be very easy to manage. You can make slight alterations to your schedule and still stay on point relatively easily.

ideal wake times
"Babywise schedules eat wake sleep sample schedules" Newborn baby, sitting baby, walking, and talking one year old.
how the babywise method helps babies sleep better

Maybe you add in an extra cycle each day for 1 week. This might help the overall flow of your day, but adding in an extra feeding and an extra nap. If your baby only seems to need an extra feeding, and no extra nap, just add one in.

It’s ok to make these alterations. With Babywise, you end up with a very flexible baby and your baby gets what she needs. It’s ok to have a temporary Babywise schedule!

How long will a growth spurt last?

Growth spurts typically last anywhere from 2 to 3 days. In some growth spurts can last an entire week. There may also be a couple of days after the growth spurt that they are very tired from all the growing they just did.

With all of these growth spurts, and the length of time that they take, it can feel like your baby is always in a growth spurt. Don’t worry, it’s not your imagination. Remember that 3-6-9 rule? It’s happening a lot.

This means you have a growth spurt at 3 weeks, then again at 6 weeks (just 3 weeks later), and again at 9 weeks (just 3 weeks later), then again at 3 months (again just 3 weeks later).

At that point it finally slows down to 3 months later, and then 3 months after that. In the first 6 months, however, there are 5 growth spurts! So yes, it’s happening a lot and not just your imagination.

It may not be a growth spurt

Has your baby been off for just 1 day and you’re not sure if it will continue? Is the timing a bit off, so you aren’t sure if it’s a growth spurt?

Perhaps it is not a growth spurt. Don’t forget to check for other things as well and don’t just assume it is a growth spurt affecting your little one.

If your baby having some of the above signs, but you think it might not be a growth spurt, consider these other factors first:

  • Gas
  • Reflux
  • Baby might be sick
  • Baby might be teething
  • Baby might be in a wonder week- read more about wonder weeks here
  • Low breast milk supply (issue will be long term unless measures are taken to fix supply)

The wonder weeks are a huge help to understanding a baby’s sudden fussiness. I always found it very fascinating to read about their developmental milestones, and how it was affecting their behavior.

Find all of our wonder week posts by clicking here –> Leaps and Development with Wonder Weeks

(Useful post alert) Click here to read about–> Growth Spurts while Breastfeeding

Wonder Weeks Posts

See specific wonder weeks posts on this page, along with other developmental milestones for each of our children.

Wonder Weeks Posts

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Hi there! I’m Katrina (aka Mama). I am a former engineer and chemistry teacher, turned stay at home mom and mom blogger. I have been blogging since 2015, and have taken my love of engineering and science, and tried to applied many of the same methods to my parenting adventure.

I have a huge passion for Babywise and prioritizing sleep for our children. I am mom to 3 (including one angel baby that had trisomy 13). A huge mission of mine is to share her story and legacy. I am a big believer in being real and doing what works for YOUClick here to subscribe to my weekly newsletter to follow our story. 

This blog is intended to be our story and our ideas- including successes and failures along the way. You can also find me published at Today Parenting, Her View From Home, VitamedMD, Love What Matters, and The Mirror. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for more parenting tips and to hear more about our journey!

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