Just when you thought your baby was sleeping through the night, or your child finally stopped waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares, another sleep issue presents itself: growth spurts.
Growth spurts can be tricky to figure out. A lot of the same signs that tell you your child is having a growth spurt, can also be because of an issue with their schedule, or teething, or a feeding issue, or... I could go on and on. AND, sometimes the result of a growth spurt isn't more height/weight, but just the need for more energy to figure out a new skill such as rolling, walking, etc. So at the end of the growth spurt, you may not even think they really had one.
And these growth spurts affect each child differently--as does most of life, right? Your kid may be on the more positive end of things where they want to sleep FOREVER (thank you babies!), or they may be on the other side where just want to eat a bunch--forget about sleep (poor mama!)!
As babies, growth spurts happen more often. Some say they are predictable, while others say there's no rhyme or reason for them. Helpful, huh? If you want to try and predict them though, several sources will tell you these spurts happen when a baby is ten days, three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months old. So feel free to make a note in your phone that growth spurts may be happening then. However, don't be alarmed if your baby doesn't have one.
If a timetable doesn't work for you, there are several signs that can help you determine a growth spurt. Just be aware that there are other reasons for these signs as well, so if these signs don't end after a few days, the problem is most likely NOT a growth spurt.
What are those signs exactly?
- Wanting to eat more often than normal
- Taking longer naps than normal (again, some babies will choose to sleep less - poor mom!)
- Acting more fussy than usual
- Wanting to be held more often
However, older children usually act a bit different during their growth spurts. Why? They aren't growing as rapidly as when they were babies. In the first year, on average, they grow 10 inches, and triple their birth weights. Children grow steadily after that first year, usually about 2.5 inches a year until adolescence.
Older children may be hungrier, and you may been traveling to Costco four times a week trying to keep up with their hunger. Or, they may be going to bed earlier, and waking up later--can I have a growth spurt more often please?
Older children can experience growing pains as well. These happen in the muscles, rather than the joints. "Most kids report pains in the front of their thighs, in the calves, or behind the knees," WebMD reports. Pain usually happens in the late afternoon or early evening, but can also wake a sleeping child.
So what can you do for your baby or child when going through a growth spurt?
My first child was never affected negatively by growth spurts. My twins, on the other hand, would have times where you could tell they just needed more calories than normal. It didn't ruin our schedule too much, and wasn't the end of the world for any of us. And why? Growth spurts don't last that long, so the biggest thing to remember is to roll with it. Be flexible. Allow the extra food, allow the extra sleep, and try to get enough sleep yourself if they aren't sleeping! And if they just want the extra cuddles, snuggle up with their favorite blankie, and enjoy the extra closeness for the few days it lasts.
Even though you don't usually hear of a baby having growing pains, as they are programmed to grow VERY fast in the first year, I always liked to give my babies an infant massage because of their fast growth. I don't know if it helped them out more, or not, but I like to assume it did. :)