Growth spurts are a baby’s way of increasing your milk supply to fulfil his evolving needs. Babies feed a lot during growth spurts and this can become tiring. When you recognise a growth spurt let your baby feed as often as he wants. By giving unrestricted access you may find baby achieves increasing your milk supply and settles back to his normal feeding patterns.
Growth spurts happen at 2, 3 and 6 weeks and then at 3 and 6 months, but they may happen slightly earlier or later depending on when baby was born (premature, on time, or later than due date). A growth spurt helps your baby to grow and learn and will tend to disrupt baby’s normal feeding pattern. Babies are also more likely to have a change in sleep pattern during these times.
Breastfed babies tend to feed what seems like almost continually for 24-48 hours during a growth spurt. Your baby may feed for longer and/or more often. This is because they are changing the constitution of your breastmilk to meet their future needs and your body will adjust to this new demand in feeding by producing more milk so your baby won’t be getting less milk than he needs.
You will need to make sure you are taking in enough calories and drinking plenty of fluids. Think about keeping some snacking foods handy and a bottle of water close to you.
Your baby’s sleeping pattern may change. They may sleep more or considerably less or it may feel that way if your baby has had a calm settled period just before starting a growth spurt.
Growth spurts also help you baby to learn new things. If not already doing so you may find your baby is able to roll over. Try and encourage him to roll both ways. You can do this by holding their favourite toy just out of reach so they have to roll toward you.
A growth spurt and the feeding frenzy that goes with it is without doubt very exhausting for mum but it is worth considering just throwing yourself into it and let baby feed totally unrestricted. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with your milk or your supply-rather it is the way baby communicates with your body to increase the amount he needs in this growth phase.
Getting help from friends and family at this time so you can concentrate on feeding your baby and resting, having a wash maybe even have time to get dressed but asking for help with meals, other children, housework will take some pressure off you.
Think about using lying down positions when feeding – putting in place all the safety factors for you and baby. if you are happy with someone coming into your bedroom and putting baby into their Moses basket/cot after you have finished feeding then you can continue to relax and have a nap as well.
Your baby may also become unsettled during this time becoming clingy or fussy or unsettled especially around nap and bedtime. Try to keep routines as similar as possible and this is where having help can be invaluable to you.
Some babies – and don’t we all wish we had this baby – sail through growth spurts and the only way you know it has happened as they weigh more or clothes are suddenly very snug fitting.
Growth spurts are a reality and a big factor in your baby growing and thriving despite the demands that go with them. Take care, know this will pass and don’t hesitate to get some help from family and friends to make these time easier for you and to take some of the pressure off you.