Growth Spurts in Babies

When you get your first child, one is never totally prepared for the changes that it entails. Every time that you feel like you are beginning to understand what the baby is going through, something else comes up and you are left clueless about what is happening. One of the things that cause consternation for parents is growth spurts in children. These changes cause parents to think that their baby is abnormal, since they occur very fast, and are accompanied by changes in the behavior of the child. It is therefore important for parents to know that this is a normal occurrence and that it will happen again during the first years of a child. The next time that your child will exhibit growth spurts is during their puberty. For boys, this will happen at the ages of 10 to 13, while for girls from the ages of 8 to 12.

How many times will growth spurts occur?

On average a newborn child will experience 5 to 7 growth spurts in the first year. The changes occur when the baby is about 1-2 weeks, and are common within the first two months of a child’s life. The same may happen every two or three months during the first year. There are signs that the child exhibits when he or she is going through a growth spurt. The signs will last for 2 to 3 days and then disappear.

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What are the signs of growth spurts?

The baby will want to breastfeed constantly – A growth spurt causes an increase in the demand for calories, so whatever the baby takes is quickly assimilated in the body and the child gets hungry again. This provides extra nutrition for the baby, and you also get an increase in your production of milk. Scientists say that short, but frequent, breast feeding increase the production of milk, as opposed to long and infrequent sessions. It is at this first growth spurt that the baby prepares your body for the increase in demand for milk. Your milk supply is balanced by the demand for milk by the baby. When you supplement milk, with formula, you interfere with this natural balance and you may not produce enough milk for the baby as the year goes on.

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The baby becomes irritable and cries a lot – If you notice that your baby, who is normally calm, has become irritable and wants to cry all the time then you should know that he or she is undergoing a growth spurt. This sees some mums driven to tears because the baby may cry even when they are given the breast to feed. At times the child will even refuse to feed, and a parent may think that there is not enough milk in their breasts. This will make the mum irritable too since she will not be able to sleep well and will be breastfeeding well into the night.

The child tends to sleep for long after the growth spurt – After a growth spurt period, the child will tend to sleep for long hours, since the child has a lot of nutrients in the body. The baby may sleep for long for a period of two to three days. Most parents get worried and may even force the baby to wake so as to feed. As a parent, you should not do this because you interfere with the resting phase after a growth spurt. It is similar to the resting phase that you would require after running a 50 km marathon. The endocrine system is releasing hormones at this time, and the baby may grow 1 cm in length every day, or add 1-4 Oz in a day

What should you do during a growth spurt?

The first thing that you should do is to eat well, and drink a lot of water. You should take good care of yourself given the nutritional demand that the increased feeding is causing to your body. You should keep healthy snacks in the home, and a lot of water, so you can easily grab one during the few minutes when the baby is not feeding.

This is the time when you need someone to help you with household tasks. You can ask the baby’s father to help with the household chores and if you are a single mother you can look for a friend. Alternatively you can get help from a maid service, or hire a stay-in maid. If the baby stresses you, and you have to struggle with housework, it will affect your production of milk, which will be detrimental to the baby.

This is a period in which you may feel overwhelmed, and you may not cope quite well. Lactating experts are priceless when it comes to drawing up ways in which you can manage during growth spurts.

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