Growth spurts in babies are part of their development process and are also known a ‘frequency days’. Baby growth spurts are characterised by frequent feeding for longer hours than earlier and sometimes becoming extremely fussy. The baby’s sleep pattern tends to fluctuate and can become erratic. The growth spurts usually occur in the second, third and sixth week and in the third and sixth month. Baby growth spurts can be exhaustive for both mother and child, but they usually end as soon as they begin. Newborn baby growth spurts occur because babies grow really fast and their tiny tummies cannot hold onto a lot of food.
Since their diet is mostly liquid, digestion occurs really fast and hence they have to be fed every four hours or so. During growth spurt days, feeding time may increase in frequency and the baby may have to be fed every two hours or so. The baby may therefore be up or keep the mother up for most of the night.
A full night of sleep for a baby is about five hours and during a growth spurt, this may not occur at all. Growth spurts in breastfed babies can throw any pattern that the mother and child have established haywire. In other words, the child is likely to keep the mother up all night with frequent feeding. Babies may engage in what is known as cluster feeding, where they will want to nurse every hour for several hours. This may worry young mothers as they usually wonder whether their milk supply is low and whether the baby is getting enough. One way to find out is to pay close attention to the child as s/he is feeding.
If the child gulps frequently after having latched on properly, it means that the child is feeding well and milk is sufficient. If the baby falls asleep while feeding, wake her up gently and try feeding her for another five minutes to ensure that she has a full belly. If the child does not wake up to feed, it means that it is full for the moment. Care must be taken to not mistake any signs that the baby is hungry. Crying is usually the child’s last resort and often the baby may lack the energy to cry out its hunger. It is also normal for a breast fed baby to lose some of the pregnancy weight, the weight is usually gained in about three weeks time or during one of the growth spurts.