Signs That a Breastfed Baby Is Going Through a Growth Spurt

mother breastfeeding her baby

Babies go through many growth spurts in the first year that transform tiny, helpless newborns into active toddlers. Also known as frequency days, growth spurts typically occur between one and three weeks, between four and six weeks, three months, six months and nine months. They can last anywhere from two or three days up to a week. The signs that a breastfed baby is going through a growth spurt are typically different from the signs of a formula-fed baby.

Frequent Feeding

Most breastfed babies normally eat eight to 10 times a day. When they hit a growth spurt, their feeding schedules change, and they want to eat more often. For example, if your baby typically breastfed every three hours, he now may want to eat every two hours. When the newborn goes through growth spurts like this in the first month, it can help the mother build up her milk supply to meet the growing baby's nutritional needs. Older babies may want to feed on a newborn schedule and request more solid foods during feedings as well. After the growth spurt ends, your little darling will usually go back to the previous feeding schedule.

Increased Fussiness

If you have a crying baby on your hands and he's hungrier than usual, then he may be going through a growth spurt. Some breastfed babies react to the hunger pains with fussiness, while others act more restless than usual. Older babies may start waking up for midnight feedings again to accommodate their feeding needs. If you're still building your milk supply, you may notice your baby latching and unlatching fussily at the breast because he's not pleased with your current volume.

Pre-Growth Spurt Sleep

You may be able to predict when a growth spurt is about to hit by simply observing the sleeping patterns of your baby. Researchers at Emory University conducted a survey that related sleep with increased growth in infants. According to the study, most babies sleep more in the couple of days preceding a growth spurt. The increased sleep included both nighttime and naptimes. Breastfed babies were reported to take shorter, more frequent naps than formula-fed babies in the 48 hours before a growth spurt began.

Formula-Fed Growth Spurt Differences

The main difference between breastfed baby and formula-fed baby growth spurts is the frequency and amount of feedings. Mothers of formula-fed babies can simply increase the formula amount in each feeding to prevent having to feed the baby more often. This means that formula-fed babies may have less fussiness or interrupted sleep patterns.

Handling a Breastfed Baby's Growth Spurt

If your breastfed baby is going through a growth spurt, there are several things you can do to cope with the challenges. You'll probably want to drink more water to keep up with your body's milk production needs. Eat more often if you feel hungrier than usual yourself. If you nurse frequently, your milk supply will eventually catch up to your baby's needs.

Remember that growth spurts only last a few days. You and your baby will get back to normal -or whatever normal means to you now- soon enough. However, if you have any concerns about your baby's feeding schedule or extreme fussiness, contact her pediatrician and share your concerns. Your baby will reach many milestones and encounter many more changes as she grows and develops.

Signs That a Breastfed Baby Is Going Through a Growth Spurt