A growth spurt is when your baby grows in height and weight, at a very rapid rate, in a short amount of time. In turn, requiring a lot more feedings to supply the demand of her rapidly growing body. During the first year growth spurts usually happen around 7 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months.
What does a typical growth spurt look like?
Well, up until you may have had a very predictable baby, who wakes to eat every 2-3 hours and goes right back to sleep. Now it seems you can't get her off the bottle or breast. She will feed on demand, and very often. She will be fussy and hard to put to sleep. You will find she is awake more than she is asleep, which will make her overtired and even more cranky. If you are breast-feeding, it may be a little more difficult for you, because your body will have to supply the sudden increase in demand of your baby's growing needs. It will seem as if your baby is on your breast all day.
But guess what? This is all NORMAL. Every baby goes through growth spurts and every mom gets through them. Growth spurts typically last about 3 days.
What to do
It's going to be a tough few days but the best way to keep baby happy is to feed her when she wants to eat, even if you just did it a half hour ago. If you are breast-feeding, don't give up just because you think you won't be able to keep up. Don't forget breast-feeding works on supply and demand. So if baby is emptying your breast, your breast will in turn produce more milk. Drink plenty of fluids, get rest when you can, and try your best to tough it out. And keep telling yourself that this will only last a few days. If this is going on for more than just a few days, then it could be a sleep regression. Take a look at my article on sleep regression here.
And if you need a little humor, here is a funny letter from a baby going through a growth spurt:
Dear Parents,I am your brand new, wonderful baby. I have very simple needs, but I cannot communicate them to you, therefore, I am a mystery. I also am changing very rapidly, and every day will be different. I promise you–DIFFERENT. Make no assumptions, there are no patterns, just when you think you know who I am and what I like, I will CHANGE. Oh, and let me tell you about my first growth spurt. It will happen sometime when I am 2-3 weeks old, and it will come out of nowhere, like a bolt of lightning. Up until my growth spurt, I may have been a good nurser. You may have been banking on me sleeping at least 2 hour stretches at a time. You may have thought you had figured out what kind of bouncing or rocking or swaying or singing I enjoyed. You may have been gaining some confidence with your new parenting skills. HAH! I am here to tell you that my growth spurt will throw all of this out the window. It won’t just throw it out the window, it will toss it up, spit on it, tear it to shreds, set fire to the shreds, and then throw the ashes out the window all done while laughing maniacally. During my growth spurt, I will DEMAND food every hour, on the hour, and when you offer me your breasts, I will flail at them and spit them out because they will be EMPTY and so inadequate for my growing needs. I will not just be fussier than usual, I will be INCONSOLABLE. I will introduce you to several of my more distressing cries which I have been saving for just this occasion: the high-pitched wail, the piercing shriek, the crying-so-hard-I-choke-and-stop-breathing-for-awhile, the so-red-in-the-face-you’ll-think-you-need-to-call-911—these and other specialty cries I prepared for you. I will not let you sleep. AT ALL. EVER. You might have thought other parents were just joking when they said they literally got NO sleep, but really, TRULY, you WILL NOT SLEEP. You will spend 24 hours trying to comfort me. You will pull your hair out. You will wonder where you can return me to. You will question the decision you made to have a baby. You will question whey you ever wanted to have sex, ever, in your life, instead of joining a convent at the tender age of 13. You will be forced to watch an all-night Hugh Grant movie marathon in bleary sleep-deprivation while I gnaw and masticate your nipples to a pulp in my unending demand for milk, of which you are so unable to provide for me. And then, finally, when I pass out from exhaustion after wailing for 8 hours, I will only sleep for 2 hours before beginning the cycle all over again. THIS IS MY GROWTH SPURT! BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!l