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 remember 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, then again at 3 and 6 months, and sometimes at 12 months again! These are just guidelines, as some babies may also experience growth spurts during other times. 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 they are 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. However, babies 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, they will fall asleep after being taken for a walk outside. If your baby continues to cry, they are probably still hungry.
- Don't panic if you still feel the problem may be a 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 relatively weak during infant growth spurts. This is because your body produces more milk for your baby. Listen to your body, and drink and eat a little more during these times.
- Remember that during a breastfeeding growth spurt, your supply is determined by demand - the more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk you will produce.
- 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 they demand it; this way, your body will ensure 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 to increase your milk supply.
If your baby is still producing enough wet and dirty diapers, it is usually a sign of a growth spurt and not a low milk supply.
Required dirty and wet diapers for different ages. (Bottle-fed and breastfed)
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The Developmental Four-Month Fussy Period
Usually, your baby will become more aware of their surroundings around the fourth month. By four months, your baby will be able to tune into things happening around them but struggle to do this while nursing sufficiently. Older babies may 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 working during the day will need to add a few extra pump sessions 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 you have extra milk to store in the mornings. You can also add a few pump sessions throughout 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 considered; a few include length, muscle tone, and cognitive development.
Some babies put on only a pound per month, and some 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 their 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.)