WHAT IS A GROWTH SPURT?
"...a period, typically lasting a day or two, when your baby's body demands more food." (page 116)
I have to start by saying that I don't think it is a good idea to have a preconceived time table in mind for how long a growth spurt should last. When Kaitlyn was having her 6 week growth spurt, Brayden was having his 2 year old doctor appointment. I asked our pediatrician how long a growth spurt lasts. He replied that you can't put a timetable on it.
McKenna's growth spurts always lasted about 5-6 days. Yikes! That is a long time! Growth spurts are exhausting. She went from feeding every three hours to every 2.5. Toward the end of the growth spurt, she ate every 2 hours. Whoa. What a difference one hour makes. I was always happy to have the growth spurt end :) But they are a part of life.
I also read in another book (I believe Super Baby Food?) that baby's first year is really just one long growth spurt with faster sprints mingled in there. I think that is a great way of looking at it.
Also, I found that both Kaitlyn and McKenna had one day each week where they ate more often. Kaitlyn's day was Thursday and McKenna's was Friday. This lasted until somewhere between 2-3 months old.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT IS A GROWTH SPURT?
If your child is typically a good sleeper, it makes "diagnosing" a growth spurt much easier. If your child typically takes a full nap and has been sleeping X number of hours at night, but suddenly starts waking early, the it most likely is a growth spurt.
You can also look at the time table. This is tricky because just about every "expert" has a different timeline for growth spurts. Hogg says the first one happens at 6-8 weeks old (116). Not true for my children! The timetable I have found to be true for all of my children is that they happen every 3-4 weeks. So the first one will be somewhere around 3-4 weeks old. Basically it is once a month. In her first book, Hogg says they happen every 3-4 weeks.
Another hint Hogg uses is the type of waking if baby is waking in the night. If baby is waking at the same time every night, it might not be a hunger issue. If it is at different times every night, the it likely is a growth spurt (page 116).
Another good clue is how baby eats. If she eats well when you feed her earlier than usual, then it likely is a growth spurt. If not, then she might be waking for some other reason (page 117). I do have a word of caution with this, though. If your baby is a sleepy eater (common in the newborn stages, so very common at the 3/4 week growth spurt and 6/8 week growth spurt), she might still get sleepy at a feeding if she is going through a growth spurt. Watch for behavior that is different from normal.
WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT A GROWTH SPURT?
Feed baby. Feed baby. Feed baby. Did I mention feed baby?
Hogg says to increase food during the day (adding ounces to bottles or more feedings when breastfeeding) and/or adding a dreamfeed if you don't have one already (page 117). If you are breastfeeding and your baby will do it, you can also increase the amount of time baby spends nursing. So if baby typically takes 20 minutes to eat, you can increase nursing time to 30 minutes. This will increase stimulation which will increase milk supply. This is usually easier to do with the newborns than the 3/4 month olds. When they get older, they don't really want to sit and suck when not much is coming; they want to be looking at the world!
Many parents worry during a growth spurt. They feel like they are backtracking and worry they are starting new bad habits with short naps. Please don't worry about it--especially if it comes at the expense of feeding your baby the food she needs.
Ignoring a growth spurt will not make it go away. It will only prolong your short naps and/or night wakings. The best way to "fix" a growth spurt is to feed baby. Once baby's body has reached the growth needed, you will be able to tell and you can get baby back on her normal napping/sleeping schedule.
It is normal for a baby to have growth spurts. It is not cause for concern. Feed baby as she needs it. Doing so is following the rules of Babywise precisely. I know growth spurts are exhausting, but the are a necessity. Hang in there!
RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS
- Growth spurt (blog label)
- baby whisperer (blog label)
- Growth Spurts: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/12/growth-spurts.html
- Baby Whisperer: Growth Spurts