Baby Whisperer: Growth Spurts

All about growth spurts. How to hand a growth spurt with your baby’s schedule, when to expect growth spurts to happen, and how growth spurts work.

All about growth spurts. How to hand a growth spurt with your baby's schedule, when to expect growth spurts to happen, and how growth spurts work. 

Growth spurts are something that seem to cause a lot of problems for moms who follow a schedule. Some are afraid to feed more often and start a new habit. Some feed more often but don’t know when to stop or are afraid to stop. Growth spurts seem to be quite mysterious. Here is what Tracy Hogg has to say about the growth spurt in Secrets of a Baby Whisperer (found on page 116).

Growth spurts seem to be more of a “problem” for breastfeeding moms than bottlefeeding moms, but both have problems. If your baby has been eating well on your 2.5-3 hour schedule then suddenly seems to want to eat all day, there is a good chance it is a growth spurt. Hogg says this lasts a day or two. I want to add, though, that it will only last a day or two if you attend to the growth spurt. If you refuse to feed more often, then the need for calories for the growth is going to take longer to fulfill. Hogg says, if you feed your baby, it will last about 48 hours. Then your baby will go back to the schedule.

How Often are Growth Spurts

How often do growth spurts happen? They seem to happen constantly for the first four months. Hogg says they are around every 3-4 weeks. Hogg cautions against confusing a growth spurt with milk supply lessening. Be mindful of that.

How Does a Growth Spurt Work

How does a growth spurt work? Mom starts to produce more milk because she is receiving more stimulation. Your baby will eat more often (or possibly nurse longer periods) to produce more milk. Your body will then produce more milk for baby to drink. If you feed formula, you can increase the amount of formula eaten–that is assuming baby can take in more in one sitting. If not, you will have to add an extra feeding to your day by feeding more often.

If your baby is hungrier only at night, then it is most likely not a growth spurt. It is that your baby isn’t getting enough calories in the day. You would then need to add a feeding to your day. Another option would be to pump the extra milk your baby doesn’t drink after the first feeding of the day. Save that milk and give it to your baby at night in a bottle. I love that idea.

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Reader Questions:

  • The Traveling Turtle said…
    Does Hogg say what ages the spurts happen around for children a little older. I think our 6 month old may be going through one. She will eat like a horse for a few days and then on others it seems like it is a bother for her to eat. But yesterday she wolfed down a TON of formula AND food. Every time we fed her (4 hour schedule) it was as if she had never eaten.
    August 25, 2008 12:00 PM
    mmonfore said…
    Traveling Turtle (cute), I’ve heard/read that growth spurts happen at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months, so it definitely makes sense if your LO is 6 months.
    August 25, 2008 11:27 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Traveling Turtle, pretty much everyone agrees that there is a growth spurt at 6 months, so that is perfectly normal!
    August 28, 2008 9:19 PM

  • Ihave2boys said…
    First of all, congratulations on the pregnancy Plowmanators! I hope you are feeling well. I have a question about getting back into the schedule after a growth spurt. My 3 1/2 month old hit a growth spurt the beginning of the week. He was waking after 45 min, I let him cry for about 10 min., and then fed him and quickly figured out that’s what was going on. And so the pattern continued. This started Monday, now its Friday, and he’s still waking early. Last week he stretched his feedings out to 3.5 hours and sometimes 4. This morning when he woke early, he was definitely not hungry. I waited until the 3 hour mark to feed him, and he didn’t take a full feeding. I’m not sure what to do. He seems to not be hungry anymore, but hasn’t gone back to taking full naps. Is this common? He’s so fussy in the evening due to lack of rest during the day. He won’t fall asleep to finish his nap in the swing (he doesn’t fall asleep in it period). He’s still sleeping great at night (about 10 hours). My sweet 2 1/2 year old has had a hard time with all the extra attention little guy is getting this week. Sorry, I know that was long. Thanks in advance!
    October 10, 2008 12:08 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    Ihave2boys, Many babies have a hard time around the 4 month mark. See this post: 4 month Sleep Problems
    October 20, 2008 4:22 PM

  • abbie said…
    I am assuming this question falls under the category of growth spurt, but I’m not sure. About 2 weeks ago my daughter had a very obvious growth spurt. She started drinking 6oz (from 4.5) really quickly and got noticeably bigger it seemed. Her sleeping wasn’t effected much, except that it seemed to solidify her sleeping through the night (about 10:30-7:30). She is 3 months old exactly. But- in the last week, she has become not as interested in those 6 ounces–she seems uninterested in eating period after like 3.5 ounces! I have tried moving to a 3 1/2 hour schedule but it doesn’t seem to make much of

  • All about growth spurts. How to hand a growth spurt with your baby's schedule, when to expect growth spurts to happen, and how growth spurts work. 

     a difference. She just acts like she’s “full” even though it doesn’t make sense that she could be? Mainly I’m worried that she is not getting enough or that she has become suddenly averse to this formula. But I would think if it was the latter, she’d be more cranky–and she isn’t. She weighed 12lbs 6oz at her 2 mo. check up so I’m assuming she’s 13lbs+ by now? I just have that “at least 2 ounces for every pound they weigh” rule in my head so if she’s only having 5 feedings, in my mind she needs at least 5 1/2 ounces to be getting “enough.” Is this not a hard and fast rule and/or is this normal after a growth spurt? I am worried something might be wrong even though she doesn’t seem upset. She has also had some “pooping” problems in the past few days so I thought maybe constipation was causing a lack of interest in eating…but the problems have just turned out to be trouble going, and not so much not being able to go at all. And according to the nurse at my pediatrician’s office, her stool looks normal…so maybe she isn’t really that constipated at all…just transitioning to formula poop from breastmilk? (She’s been on formula 100% for about 2 or 3 weeks, I was doing some of BF and formula before… and originally exclusively BF.) Sorry this is so long– any ideas?? Thanks!
    October 16, 2008 6:11 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    abbie, I don’t have experience in feeding with a bottle, but I would say she would return to what she was eating before the growth spurt. She sounds like she is eating less. If she is happy and diaper output is normal, I would try to not worry about it. Also, babies grow at their own pace. They don’t steadily grown X number of ounces per week. It seems to be more of a burst, then not much, then burst, etc. When I look at Kaitlyn’s numbers over her life, she had visits where she was in 80% and visits she was less than 20%. She is currently about 60%. Her doctor has never shown concern over it. She has had visits where she was 20% one week, went in the next for whatever reason and had shot up to 50%. I am sure it is easy to stress when you see every ounce your baby is or isn’t taking in. I would try to just watch diaper output, sleep patterns, and disposition and go off of that.
    October 20, 2008 4:27 PM

Baby Growth Spurts Infographic