Recognizing & Handling Growth Spurts in Babies

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It is important to 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. In this post you’ll 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.

Growth spurts in infants are relatively predictable, and due to this, we can know when to be on the lookout and what to do.

Notice how much our daughter grew in just 2 months. This first picture is our daughter at 1 month of age:

growth spurts in babies -example photo from month 1

This photo is of our daughter 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 than they were as a newborn. That’s a lot of growing!

Our daughter 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. 

Doctors use this information to make sure that your baby is eating well and on track with their expected growth. Our son, was an interesting example. He didn’t do much growing between his 2 month appointment and 4 month appointment. He was content after breastfeeding, and was sleeping well, so we had no idea that anything was wrong.

His growth told the doctors that he wasn’t getting enough food, however. We ended up switching him to formula, which worked wonders. You can read more on why we decided to make the switch from breastfeeding to formula, and how we got him back on the growth curve here.

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 in infants happen around the same time for all babies give or take a week on either side. An easy way to remember when growth spurts happen 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.

Again, your baby might be in the last week of his second month, or in the first week of his third month for the 3 month growth spurt. It doesn’t happen right on the day he turns 3 months, but within a couple of weeks.

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

On of the reasons I know how to deal with growth spurts and identify them so readily, is because my babies don’t get fussy for no reason.

As I write about in my new book, Baby Sleep Solutions (you can grab a copy here), I have a 6 step method that I use with our babies to get them sleeping through the night by 4 months of age.

This 6 step method ensures that they are well fed and getting the right amount of sleep. I use schedules and routines, along with a few other tactics.

When my babies cry, when they wake up early from naps, or wake up in the middle of the night, it’s because something is wrong. They could be teething, sick, or in a growth spurt.

These moments are EASY to identify because I’ve taken care of their needs before they ask for them. I have them fed before they are hungry and asking for food. I have them getting good sleep before they get overtired and fussy.

I’d highly recommend taking a look at this method so you will also know when something is out of the ordinary for your baby, and you can identify growth spurts easily! Get a copy on amazon today.

Once you have your baby’s basic feeding and sleeping needs met, 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. Read about my full method in my new book Baby Sleep Solutions.

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. Try squeezing in one more feeding when the schedule makes sense. Don’t just let your baby snack all day long, however. Be deliberate with your feedings.

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. Hunger and sleep are always a balance!

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 some of my basic 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 and trying to catch up on sleep and regain energy.

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

Has your baby’s behavior and fussiness been off for a few weeks? In that case it might not be a growth spurt, but rather your baby might be needing a schedule change!

You can check out some ideas for schedule changes on this page, and be sure to read up on ideal wake times for your baby here as well.

Tie it all together with scheduling, routine, and sleep insight from my book Baby Sleep Solutions. It’s my keep it real approach- because let’s face it- we don’t live in a bubble. There are all sorts of things that affect our babies. Some are in our control and some aren’t. We have to learn to be flexible but also direct our babies for idea sleeping and eating.

Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Growth Spurts

How do you know when your baby is going through a growth spurt?

Babies are extra irritable and fussy during growth spurts. They might wake at night when they don’t usually out of hunger. They are also extra tired.

Are babies fussy during growth spurts?

Yes. Babies are fussy during growth spurts. They are tired and hungry and needing more sleep and food than usual. If you adjust your schedule accordingly, you can help your baby get through the growth spurt with minimal fussiness, however.

Do babies sleep a lot during growth spurts?

Babies are extra tired during growth spurts. They are using a LOT of energy to grow their little bodies. This might mean an extra nap or longer naps. It might also result in your baby waking at odd times, however. You might be used to your baby sleeping through the night, but suddenly they are waking out of hunger.

How long does a baby growth spurt last?

Growth spurts last for about 2-3 days. The effects might be longer, however. Your baby might be tired for a couple days after the growth spurt as well. They just did a lot of hard work!

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MamasOrganizedChaos
MamasOrganizedChaos

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 am not only a hard working mom and blogger, I am the author of Baby Sleep Solutions, and have more books on the way!

I have a huge passion for Babywise and similar methods that prioritize 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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