If you have a little one of your own or have spent any time around babies, you probably know they can be quite unpredictable. One minute they’re napping like champs, eating on a perfect schedule, and as happy as a clam. And the next moment, they refuse to be laid down for even a minute, demand another feeding, and are as unpredictable as you were when you were riding the rollercoaster of pregnancy emotions. As little comfort as it is, that is totally normal, or at least I’ve come to realize it is.
When I first brought my little one home, I had very minimal experience with a newborn and had no idea what to expect. We’re still only five months in, but having been through a few sleepless nights and several growth spurts, I feel like I have a little more experience under my belt. Even with that, though, every time Grace heads into a growth spurt, it completely throws me for a loop, so I figured there are other new mamas out there going through the exact same thing. While I haven’t perfected my approach to getting through growth spurts, I have found a few things that help, so I thought I’d share. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or Mother’s Milk tea) and sit for a while. Remember, you’re not in this alone, mama.
What Is a Growth Spurt?
If you’ve been through one with your little, then I certainly don’t need to explain it for you. However, I’ve found that having that bit of extra information has really helped me cope during these periods of non-stop nursing, fussing through naps, and even more broken sleep. Anyway, a growth spurt is a period of rapid development – physical or mental/developmental. These periods of development are often characterized by baby being much hungrier than usual (needing to eat even as often as once an hour), fussier than is typical for the baby’s natural temperament, and sleepier or less sleepy than is usual.
Growth spurts are difficult for both mom and baby because baby is typically much needier than usual. This becomes particularly apparent during growth spurts that occur later in baby’s development. So far, we’ve had the hardest time struggling through the 4-month growth spurt because Grace had just gotten into a good routine of nighttime sleep, daytime napping, and less frequent eating. Nonetheless, we worked through it and both survived all the better for it.
In case you were wondering, growth spurts are common at around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 week, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 9 months. However, babies don’t follow calendars, so your little one may or may not experience growth spurts at this predictable pattern.
How Do I Survive a Growth Spurt?
Whew! I think we’ve all asked ourselves that question. Haha. But, in all reality, you and your little one will be able to push through a growth spurt, and it’ll be over before you even realize it. I’ve found a few things helpful, so I hope they make your baby’s next growth spurt just a little easier on baby and mom!
1. Offer Extra Feeds
So, through trial and error I’ve found that a lot of the added fussiness comes from actually being extra hungry, so by offering extra feeds, I’m able to “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak. Once I realize we’re in a growth spurt, I try to take note of when any fussiness starts and offer feeds much closer together. At 4 months, we had been spacing feeds at 4-5 hours, but when she hit her growth spurt, we went back to nursing every 2-3 hours.
2. Increase Physical Contact
Babies are cute and cuddly anyway, but having your hands full of baby can make it difficult to get anything else done. During growth spurts, forget about the to-do list (I need to get better at this), and increase your physical contact with your baby. Extra snuggles and cuddles are often just the reassurance that little one needs when he or she is going through a tumultuous growing experience. I’ve loved our Baby K’Tan wrap carrier for times like this because it lets me hold Grace but still have my hands free.
3. Put Aside the To-Do List
Okay, like I said, I need to work on this one myself, but one of the best things you can do for you and baby during a growth spurt is to quit worrying about getting everything done. Set aside your to-do list for a day or two, or at the very least only focus on what absolutely has to be done.
4. Increase Your Intake
Especially if you are a breastfeeding mama, this suggestion is essential. I have been following a relatively flexible nutrition plan since shortly after Grace was born, but during growth spurts I have to listen to my body just that much more and add in a few extra snacks here and there. During these periods, she is consuming more, so I take in just a little extra to help compensate, and it makes a world of difference for my energy level.
5. Be Patient
The best advice I can give you, though, is to just be patient with yourself and your baby. Growth spurts are tough. Your baby will be needier, and you won’t be able to get as much done. But, the spurt will be over in a few days, and you’ll be able to get back to “normal.” Plus, they’re only little and snuggly for such a short time, so take advantage of it before this stage is gone.
Growth spurts are exhausting for baby and mom, so use these tips to get through your baby’s next growth spurt as gracefully as possible. And, in the meantime, just enjoy your little one as babies don’t keep.