Growth Spurts

  • Posted by Cheryl Taylor, CBE

If there is a rule that would help moms survive growth spurts with a smile, it would have to be, “Don’t Watch The Clock!” Don’t watch the clock for how long baby has been nursing. Don’t watch the clock for how long it’s been since baby last wanted to nurse. Don’t watch the clock for how many times you’ve been awakened that night to nurse.

Growth spurts happen. They happen with all nursing dyads. Some babies protest more about them and others seem to sail through them with the greatest of ease. Some books will tell you they happen at so many weeks or months. They may tend to, but the truth is, they can happen anytime.

Signs of a Growth Spurt

  • Baby is nursing often or almost nonstop
  • A baby who was previously sleeping through the night is now waking to nurse several times
  • Baby will latch and unlatch, fussing in between

These signs are all signals to the mom’s body to “MAKE MORE MILK NOW!” Our bodies listen very well if we will merely respond to the baby’s needs. The extra suckling will stimulate your body to make more milk.

Often Observed After a Growth Spurt

  • Baby sleeps extra for a day or two
  • Mom is a bit fuller than usual for a day or so
  • Baby calms down at the breast
  • You may see an increase in wettings with the increased supply baby is drinking

Growth spurts seem to throw new moms for a loop. Just when they thought they were beginning to understand their baby’s signals, they abruptly changed. The frequent requests to nurse can be confusing as well as the frequency with which growth spurts happen within the first few months. The key is purely and simply to go with the flow (pun intended!) If you respond to your baby’s signals to nurse during a growth spurt and do not interfere with them in any manner, your body will quickly respond and increase supply. Typically it happens within 24 to 48 hours. Sometimes growth spurts seem to drag on for a week. This would be a good time to make sure you’re drinking plenty water.

Don’t allow a growth spurt to rob you of your confidence in nursing. Instead, allow it to instill confidence in your ability to read your baby’s cues. Your confidence will be further rewarded as your supply increases and your baby settles back down into a happy breastfeeding baby again, with a smart mommy who knew that sometimes baby really does know best and our job is to listen.

9 Comments

  1. marie

    do growth spurts happen only with breast fed babies? And can growth spurts

    occur with older babies, say young toddlers around 18 months of age. I would appreciate a little more information on this subject concerning the toddlers.

    thank you, marie rudert – infant/toddler teacher

    1. CherylTaylor

      Growth spurts happen in all children even into the teens (and in boys you'll often see it into college years!). There are significant growth spurts in the first year, particularly in the first 6 months (you'll almost think they are in a perpetual growth spurt for 6 mo!) They are particularly noticeable in breastfed children because with mom as the source of nutrition she notices quickly that seem to want to nurse very often. First instinct might be to doubt milk supply. Don't! As always, watch output for confirmation of intake. If wettings are still at least 6-8 per day then intake is still fine. The increased desire to nurse is a natural biological system to increase mom's supply to meet the child's "new" needs. With increased nursings mom's supply will typically surge in 24-48 hrs.

  2. marie

    In response to your reply to my question above, I am looking for additional information on growing spurts for non-breast fed babies that are now young toddlers. I am familiar with the infants but what would be an indication of a growing spurt in a toddler and how would I recognize it? I would appreciate a little more information on this subject or if you could direct me to a website that could assist me.

  3. Kelly

    I would also like to know about growth spurts in toddlers. Especiall around the age of 12 months to 2 years. Anyone know?

    1. Cheryl Taylor

      There are continued growth spurts in the 2nd year also. They are seen with a marked increase in nursing and eating for 24-48 hrs followed often by a day of extra sleeping. Children continue to have these growth spurts throughout their years of growing. In the first six months of live growth spurts can happen very often.

  4. Jacki Cole

    I usually let my 3 week old sleep as long as she wants at night and wake her every 1 1/2 to 2 hours during the day for feedings. Should I let her sleep longer during the day while she's going through a growth spurt or keep to the day schedule for feedings?

  5. cally

    Thank you for this post, it has made me feel SO relieved. My 10 week old has been fussing and delatching and not sucking properly for the last 2 days, making me fear the worst (that she is starting to reject my boobs!). But now believe she is just going through a growth spurt, will just persevere and hope she settles soon.

    1. Cheryl Taylor

      Growth spurts can be very unnerving, because a baby that was breastfeeding calmly can suddenly start acting fussy at the breast, latching on and off, and it can zap the confidence of mom! They also are very smart and can get annoyed when the fast initial flow of letdown begins to slow to a more steady flow. They are opinionated! Remember to continue to look to wettings for reassurance of intake.

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