Baby Growth Spurts – Timeline & More

It’s inherently unfair, but all too common. Just when you’re finally getting the hang of a somewhat reasonable breastfeeding schedule, your newborn suddenly changes course and begins eating every hour. And even when he’s done, he still acts like he’s ready to hit the drive-through at McDonald’s, making you wonder if your baby’s getting enough milk.

If this sounds familiar, relax. Your little one is not starving (even though he’s acting like it). He’s just hit his first baby growth spurt — the first of about five he’ll have during the first year.

One of your baby’s most important jobs this year is to grow bigger, and he’ll probably triple his body weight by the time he’s 12 months. Surprisingly, though, a lot of that growth happens in short, intense bursts. (So, it’s not your imagination — your baby really did outgrow all his newborn outfits overnight!)

Although growth spurts can happen anytime during the first year, your baby will most likely have his initial spurt between 1 and 3 weeks; and another between 6 and 8 weeks. After that, you can expect more at 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. The good news: A baby’s growth spurts usually last only a couple days, so your baby (and your life) should get back to normal soon. 

How Big Should Baby Be?

Here’s how to recognize your little sprout’s spurt:

Your baby wants to eat nonstop. If you’ve been breastfeeding every three hours, your baby will now want to belly up to the milk bar every hour or two. That’s just fine. The more often your baby breastfeeds, the more he stimulates milk production to keep up with his growing appetite. Older babies will also want to nurse more and up their intake of the jarred stuff if they’re eating solids.

Your baby will be up more often at night. Even if your baby was sleeping for a blissful 5- or 6-hour stretch, during a growth spurt he’ll howl for a midnight snack, then one at 2 a.m., and 4 a.m., and so on. You may find your older baby waking up earlier from his naps, too.

Your baby will be crankier than usual. At the breast he’ll be extra fussy, latching and unlatching because he wants more milk right now, and your production might not be up to speed yet. Plus, all those late nights don’t help his mood (or yours!) either.

How to deal with baby growth spurts:

Since you were already struggling to get enough rest or do anything other than feed your baby, it’s extra-exhausting to have a newborn who suddenly treats breastfeeding like a 24-7 all-you-can-eat buffet. So make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, recruit help from your partner or a friend to do dishes and other household chores, and settle in for the long haul. (A DVD can help pass the time.)

Whatever you do, don’t give up on breastfeeding now. When your baby seems hungrier and crankier than normal, you may worry that he’s not getting enough to eat and think about abandoning breastfeeding altogether. But those temporary round-the-clock feedings are actually your baby’s way of boosting your milk supply to keep pace with his oh-so-healthy appetite. 

If you’re really concerned, keep an eye on two things: diapers and weight gain. If he’s packing on ounces (that adorable little T-shirt seem tighter today than it did two days ago, for example) and soaking five or six diapers a day, he’s doing just fine. Soon enough his hunger pangs will be over, the growth spurt will end, and things will settle back to normal. Until the next baby growth spurt hits, that is. 

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