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How to Be Prepared for Baby Growth Spurts

So, you just had a new baby. And now, you want to know exactly how fast they grow up. Don’t worry, babies grow up fast. Soon, they will be running around and you’ll be chasing after them.

What are Growth Spurts in Babies?

Growth spurts are periods of growth that happened rapidly. They actually happen over the course of the entire life of your child, and your life as well. Some growth spurts are very obvious. While other are not so obvious.

Typical growth spurts for babies happen every couple of weeks and take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days. Rarely do growth spurts last more than a week. Most growth spurts do not hurt the baby and may pass on eventful. But, what happens during a growth spurt is anything but uneventful. Mental and physical changes abound.

Why do babies go through growth spurts? It’s kind of complicated. Advanced physiology and anatomy get tossed in. But, what you need to know is that your baby is growing fast and the growth spurts are a sign of good health.

You can expect many things during your baby’s growth spurts. Most babies do need to sleep more. So, you will find your baby doing not much more than eating and sleeping. They will also need more food, often breastfeeding more than what you expect.

Some people describe the sleep cycle as going back to having a newborn. To where parents find that they’re babies no longer sleep through the night. Because of the odd sleep schedule, your baby may be more fussy than normal.

But, don’t worry, growth spurts do not hurt your baby.

We also want to let you know that babies can go through growth spurts early and they can go through them late. Just because your baby doesn’t have their growth spurt exactly when we say, does not mean your baby is sick or not developing properly. All babies develop at their own pace. Your baby had growth spurts in the womb. And we’ll go through growth spurts the rest of our life.

If you feel like your baby is not developing as he or she should, talk to your doctor. They will be able to assess whether your baby is truly sticking to a good timeline or if there are other issues going on.

Important Milestones in Your Baby’s Growth Spurt Timeline

When your baby has growth spurts, it can be a trying time. We want you to know that it is perfectly normal to have a cranky and fussy baby. As your baby gets older, the growth spurts will space themselves out more.

Newborn Growth Spurt

When your baby is a newborn, they really aren’t able to differentiate anything. A face looks like a blob. The growth spurt in a newborn is mostly the development of their senses and their ability to differentiate different stimulus.

Many people will observe a pseudo-growth spurt. It’s not actually growth spurt at all. It’s the expansion of the joints, head, and other parts of the body now that your baby is not squished in your stomach. Your baby has room to move around and stretch out their limbs. As they stretch out, their body can grow and expand to a natural size.

6 Week Growth Spurt

Between 4 weeks and 6 weeks, your baby will go through a growth spurt where they are discovering their environment and you. This is a great time for connection with your baby. As your baby discovers sensations, they will start recognizing your face and their love of skin to skin contact. The warmth of you and your heart beat is something they very much enjoy.

As the mental facilities begin to develop, they will start learning how to use their voice for more than just crying. They will begin to use recognizable sounds, ums and ohs.

During this first growth spurt, your baby may suddenly change sleeping habits. If they had not slept well before, they may suddenly start to. Or, right after this growth spurt, they may suddenly start to sleep through the night.

What you will notice is an increase in feedings. Also, during feedings, your baby will also look to connect with you more, both visually and tactically.

8 Week Growth Spurt

Around this time, your baby will suddenly realize that they are a separate individual and that they are separate from their environment. Scientists are not sure what triggers this realization. You may experience this with your baby as an increase in clinginess and a desire to burrow into things. Child development experts think that this burrowing instinct is a desire to get back into the womb.

But far from shutting down your baby is expanding their senses at an exceptional rate. Their eyesight is vastly improving as is all of their senses. Around this time, they want to explore the world, they just are not physically able to, yet.

You may find your baby starting to suck their thumb or other digits. Objects will begin to migrate to their mouth your baby discovers the sense of taste. You definitely want to be careful of this time. Since taste is a sensation, your baby will try and put all objects into their mouth. They do not realize some of these objects can hurt them. It is up to you, the parents, to make sure that the objects remain safe and that your baby remains safe.

12 Week Growth Spurt

This is a growth spurt parents may have missed. It is characterized by your baby understanding more about how to move its limbs and what his or her limbs do. At this time they also gained great control over their fingers and hands. Before, your baby may have just grab things reflexively. Now, they are able to make a choice of what they want to grab.

Necklaces and hair at this time need to be taking care of when around a baby. They will choose to reach for the shiny objects. Since they are now getting a better control over their hands, they will be able to catch these smaller objects.

Parents also miss this growth spurt because it is one of the few that are actually categorized by a calming down of the baby. Parents may notice the baby sleeping more and being calmer when awake.

3 Month Growth Spurt

At three months, you’ll begin to recognize the beginnings of a personality. Some babies will be more social, while others will be shyer.

At the 3-month mark, they are also starting to support their own head and begin the first stages of crawling. Parents will be able to help their babies along by supporting the baby’s head and by encouraging them to try and crawl.

Their senses are becoming much more adept. The color is definitely distinguished at this point. Your baby is also able to begin sequencing events. They are able to see an object, choose to pick it up, and make the choice of what to do with it. For babies, they don’t have enough experience yet to do more than taste or throw the object. As play happens, your baby will begin to develop more choices.

Around this time, the game peekaboo * can start to be understood. Babies don’t yet have an ability to understand where somebody has gone when they hide behind their hands, but they can understand what you are doing is a game.

4 Month Growth Spurt

4 month old baby growth spurt

Your baby’s world is greatly expanding. They are now able to understand that things change, whether the change is small or large. Prior to this, babies are unable to understand change and simply accepted the world as it is.

They are now able to perceive cause and effect, on a very simple level. This is where you’ll start to see them throwing objects simply because you pick them up. You’ll start to see them do a task and only begin to laugh when you react.

Their eyesight has just developed enough to begin to perceive distances. Doctors believe before this time that your baby’s eyes have not fully filled out and the world appears to be two-dimensional. Now, as depth and distance have developed, your baby can start to understand when things are farther away.

At this point your baby will be exceptionally clingy. You may notice that in between growth spurts, the clinginess and the desire to always be around you decreases. But, at this time it changes. With the perception of distance comes their realization that you are leaving them. Since they desire to be around you all the time, this does not please them and they may start crying every time you put them down.

Around this time is also a phenomenon that is known as sleep regression. This is a very tough time on parents. Usually, a baby sleep pattern will change drastically. You will find that any disruption in the normal pattern causes your baby to be exceptionally cranky. It may take a week and up to 3 weeks before this sleep regression develops a new pattern of sleep for your baby.

6 Month Growth Spurt

At about 6 months of age, your baby can now start to distinguish relative distances. They are able to understand on top of, underneath and the next to. You may start to see them move objects just to see them being moved.

Buy now, their vocalizations have really started to expand. Between now and 1 year of age, they will be saying their first words. It’s hard to determine when a child will say their first word because there are so many factors involved. The more a child is talked to and is exposed to language, the faster a child will talk. Developmental doctors also believe that outgoing children begin speaking earlier than shy children.

9 Month Growth Spurt

Between 8 months and 10 months, your baby will go through another sleep regression phase. Where you will have developed a new sleeping pattern at 4 months, your baby will go through another change around this time. This one should be easier, however. You have anywhere from 1 week to 6 weeks of settling into a new pattern, usually, the new pattern is filled with a more satisfying sleep. Sleep becomes longer and less disturbed.

The two big things that come about this growth spurt are jealousy and order. Children at this time begin developing fierce attachments to their parents and objects. They begin to understand mine versus yours. It is a perfect time to start teaching them sharing and the beginning of empathy.

One of the jealous traits you will need to be prepared for is your child wanting you away from your spouse. Your baby might love you and your spouse equally but they don’t understand that they have to share. You will want to make sure that this does not cause conflict or harm.

Your child might line up objects in a certain order. You may not understand that order, but they do. They will start making piles with different objects in order to be able to categorize them.

Along with anything that encourages sharing, you want to encourage them to play games where they name objects / gather objects you have named.

Also, since children are becoming more mobile, you want to expose them to pets. Teach them how to ask permission to pet an animal and how to do it properly. Most accidents involving children being bitten by an animal are actually caused by the child harming the animal. By teaching them proper etiquette, you can avoid this problem altogether.

12 Month Growth Spurt and Beyond

From here on out, it’s a little bit more difficult to identify when growth spurts will happen. Children at this time begin to identify who is their family and who is a stranger. They will begin to be shy around strangers and want to be around their family all the time.

Motor skills will continue to develop as well as their ability to differentiate between different objects. They will begin to tell stories and create games and objects in their head. This is a good sign that they have developed the ability to sequence events. The sequencing of events is very important in the learning process, so they’re able to understand how one event will lead to the next.

Encouraging games and stories is very important at this time. As their understanding of events happened, they will go quickly gained the vocabulary to be able to relay it to you. The more you encourage this, the more their vocabulary will develop.

How to Deal with Your Baby’s Growth Spurts

Some parents may wonder how to survive their baby's growth spurts. Trust me, you will survive it.

One of the biggest things you could do to make sure your sanity and your health survive your baby’s growth spurts is to keep it in perspective. Your baby is doing a lot of growing and expanding their world. They are not doing this to harm you or to keep you from sleep.

Sharing the duties is one of the biggest things you can do. Allowing one person to sleep one night while the partner takes care of the baby is one of the biggest gifts you can give to a parent that’s not sleeping well. Growth spurts make you tired, so a great gift is a good night’s sleep.

Also, take turns with the feeding and cuddling of your baby. Yes, your baby wants the mother. But, allowing the father or another partner to take over will allow your baby to bond with that other person and will give the mother a break.

Make sure you eat well and keep well hydrated. That will give you the best chance to stay healthy so you can take care of your baby. If you get sick, the chances of your baby getting sick are high. If your baby gets sick, that’s a health emergency.

Growth Spurt Symptoms & Issues

Babies react many different ways so their growth spurts. Some may not notice the growth spurt at all. They take it in stride and do not have symptoms. Others are different.

There are three big signs for growth spurts. The first is your baby becomes more cranky. The second is they sleep more. And finally, they eat more.

When the growth spurt happens, your baby has a sudden change in their perception of the world. It can be startling. And sometimes the actual growth causes discomfort or pain. In the older days, people just called it Growing Pains.

During the growth spurt, your baby will sleep more than usual. The growth spurts take a lot of energy and that means your baby will want to sleep. You may find that your baby sleeps more erratically. Many parents find that their baby goes back to sleeping as if they were a newborn, up every 2 to 3 hours and difficult to put back down.

And you will definitely find they eat more. They need more nutrients going into the body in order to support the increased growth. Often times, they want breast milk more than they want any other kind of food. Even those that are currently eating solid food will choose the breast over solid food.

Normally, each of these growth spurts has a down time where the body readjusts to the growth. But, there are times where your baby can have two growth spurts in a very short period of time. It’s uncommon, but not unheard of.

Gender Differences – a Summary

There are very few gender differences when it comes to growth and development. Your baby will develop very similarly whether it’s a girl or a boy.

Growth Spurts in Girls

Girls tend to develop more of their intellectual skills before their physical skills. The growth spurts that focus more on mental development may have been slightly earlier than what would happen in a boy. Some doctors also believe that girls develop their emotional abilities before boys. In general, unless you are raising fraternal twins, you are not going to see much of a difference between girls and boys.

Growth Spurts in Boys

Like we said with the girls, you’re not going to see much difference. You may see physical development taking precedence over emotional or mental development. You may also find the physical development happening a little bit earlier than what you would for a girl. But, you’re not going to see the difference as a matter of weeks. At most, it may be a matter of days. As your child grows, the difference will not matter.

Once a child reaches the age of about 3, they begin to develop more gender specific traits. Because of the increased estrogen, girls tend not to grow as fast physically and developing mental and emotional maturity faster. Boys are the opposite because of testosterone. They tend to grow physically faster, but their mental and emotional maturity lags behind the girls.

Experiments in gender-neutral environments and households have not shown to disrupt this tendency. In the gender-neutral environments, boys develop a better sense of emotional maturity, it still tends to lag behind the girls.

Since the development of certain areas of the body is determined by hormones, there’s very little a parent can do to change this. We recommend you don’t worry about it at all. Raise your baby to be aware of their environment and social setting. Do not raise them to hate other people or to be violent. After that, you don’t have much to worry about.

Baby Height & Weight Charts

There are many baby height and weight charts out there, but we don’t actually find any that we truly like. There are standard ones for the doctor’s office and there’s one for general home use. There are ones for different ethnicities, different genders, and different areas of the world.

The one thing that we took away from looking at all these charts is that every baby is different. You’re not going to be able to fit your baby into anyone’s standard chart. We recommend you work with your doctor to make sure the that your baby is developing normally. There is no chart in the world that can tell you that.

Conclusion

During the first year of life, your baby will be developing in so many different ways. They will be exploring their environments, their own bodies and you. The one thing that remains consistent is that exploration. As your baby develops, you want to make sure that they see a doctor regularly and that they are developing on pace.

One of the best things you can do to help your baby is to play games. Start with very simple games *, just getting them to watch you, and then move on to more complex games * where they name objects, get you toys, and be able to recognize different people and objects.

We have some great tips on how to increase IQ for you and your baby. Check out this website for more information.

If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below for any thoughts and questions. Thank You!

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nadia Edwards March 7, 2017, 7:24 pm

    Hey Katia – great, detailed information, really helpful and I will share with the families I work with.

    • Katia March 9, 2017, 1:16 am

      Hi, Nadia!

      Thank you very much! Hope this information will help the families.

  • Nina March 11, 2017, 4:16 pm

    Such great information, Katia! Growth spurts is one of those things that can be so confusing because it’s not always so clear that they’re happening.

    • Katia March 12, 2017, 3:56 pm

      Hey, Nina!

      I’m glad you liked it! Yes, sometimes you see that the behavior of your baby has changed and you understand that it was a growth spurt. For example, after the day sleep, we saw that our 2 years old son behaves differently than before the sleep, like an older boy. Even his look has changed and became more mature. We understood that it was a growth spurt. Thank you!

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