Breastfeeding Growth Spurts
Quick Page Links
- When do growth spurts occur?
- What to expect during a growth spurt.
- Coping with growth spurts.
- Do I have a low milk supply?
- The four-month fussies.
- The working mother who expresses milk.
- Weight gain during a growth spurt
Growth Spurts in Breastfed Babies
All babies will experience growth spurts, also called “frequency days." Mothers usually assume that they have low milk production during this time. Their babies may demand to be breastfed more often during the day and night and may become very fussy.
Growth spurts can be very frustrating, but keep in mind that they are temporary and essential for development.
When Are Infant Growth Spurts Most Commonly Seen?
Growth spurts occur most commonly during the first few days at home, at two, three and six weeks and then again at 3 and 6 months, and sometimes at 12 months again! These are just guidelines, as some babies may experience growth spurts during other times, too. Newborn growth spurts are common and sometimes confused with colic.
What to Expect During These Growth Spurts
Baby's First Year…
- Your baby might feed more frequently.
- Increase in overall fussiness, during the day.
- Changes in the baby's sleep pattern and he/she is perhaps not sleeping much at all.
- Infant growth spurts sleepiness: Some babies sleep a lot during a growth spurt. Do not worry about this. Allow your baby to sleep. Although babies that are younger than two weeks should be breastfed at least every two hours. More about keeping your baby awake during feedings.
Coping With Growth Spurts In Babies
- A mother may sometimes question whether her baby has had enough to drink. Take a walk after a feeding. If your baby is full, he/she will fall asleep after being taken for a walk outside. If your baby continues to cry, he/she is probably still hungry.
- Don’t panic if you still feel that the problem may be low milk supply. Weigh your baby before and after feedings. A nurse or lactation consultant will assist you with this at the clinic, or you can purchase a scale for use at home. Some mothers use a kitchen mixing bowl scale if their babies are small enough.
- Do not supplement! If you do this, your body will adjust to the lower demand and produce less milk. When is supplementation necessary?
- Carrying your little one in a sling will make things much easier for you. This will allow you to nurse hands-free and feed your baby on demand.
- Some mothers feel quite weak during infant growth spurts. This is because your body is producing more milk for your baby. Listen to your body, and drink and eat a little more during these times.
- Always remember that during a breastfeeding growth spurt, your supply is determined by demand - the more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk you will be producing.
- After a growth spurt, you might be left with fuller breasts that may take a few days to settle to their original output volume.
Do I Have a Low Milk Supply?
The best thing to do is to breastfeed your baby whenever he/she demands it; this way, your body will make sure that you produce enough milk; the more you breastfeed, the more milk your body will make.
A baby growth spurt also never really lasts longer than a few days. If the breastfeeding problems continue longer than a week, you should speak to a lactation consultant in connection with increasing your milk supply. Increasing milk supply.
If your baby is still producing enough wet and dirty diapers, then it is usually a sign of a growth spurt and not low milk supply.
Required dirty and wet diapers for different ages. (Bottle fed and breastfed)
The Developmental Four-Month Fussy Period
Usually, around the fourth month, your baby will become more aware of his/her surroundings. By four months your baby will have the capability to tune into things happening around them, but will struggle to do this while nursing sufficiently. Older babies may actually stop nursing every time they hear or see something. You might notice an increase in night feedings when things are less exciting. This stage does not last too long, fortunately.
A few suggestions:
- Nurse in a quiet room.
- Nurse in a darkened room.
- Minimize distractions.
- Use white noise while nursing, to block out other sounds.
Pumping During a Growth Spurt
A mother that works during the day will need to add a few extra pump sessions during the day to keep up with the baby's demands. You can also increase the amount of comfort nursing in the evenings. This should increase your supply so that you have extra milk to store in the mornings. You can also start adding a few pump sessions through the night if you are not already doing so.
Weight Gain During a Growth Spurt
All babies grow and gain weight differently. Many things need to be taken into consideration; a few include length, muscle tone, and cognitive development.
Some babies put on only a pound per month, some babies never manage to fit on the growth curve because they are small, but they are still healthy in every other way. If your baby seems happy, is putting out enough diapers and your doctor is satisfied with his/her cognitive development, don't worry too much about weight. Also, many times a baby will stop gaining for about a month and then the baby suddenly gains a few pounds in just a few days; this is normal too - especially during a growth spurt when cluster feedings are apparent (during these times, your baby will be drinking plenty.)