Pediatricians explain what’s going on, and how to get through it.
You put your baby to bed — and they wake up the next morning as a tween. Well, it’s not quite like that, but baby growth spurts do seem to make your child magically grow in what feels like a blink of an eye. And while you want your child to achieve their developmental milestones and be healthy, baby growth spurts (what with all of the cluster feeding and lack of sleep that often accompanies them) are not for the faint of heart. Here’s everything new parents need to know about what ages infant growth spurts typically happen, how long they last, and, most importantly, tips for how to survive them.
You may have barely adjusted to your newborn baby’s erratic sleep schedule when your little one starts their first growth spurt. At first, you might not even know what’s happening — sleep deprivation will do that to you — but if you understand the potential timing of a spurt, you can be better prepared when it starts to happen.
According to Dr. Joanna Perdomo, a pediatrician at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital explains to Romper, baby growth spurts can happen just about anytime, but commonly occur at these ages:
“Although these are the typical stages, keep in mind that they are not set times for every baby,” Perdomo adds.
Growth spurts can be really obvious, if you know the signs to look for. How do you know when my baby is having a growth spurt? Well, you know all those cute TikTok videos of babies rooting and looking to feed when they’ve just finished eating? That is what cluster feeding can look like and chances are that those babies might be experiencing a spurt.
“When babies go through growth spurts, they will often seem voracious, eating more frequently and/or in larger quantities than usual,” Perdomo says. “This may also mean they are waking up more frequently to feed, leading to disruptions in what may have been an established sleep pattern.”
So here’s the good news: Baby growth spurts don’t last too long. In fact, by the time you realize that your baby might be going through one, it’s probably almost ending. “As with everything when it comes to raising a child, remember that everything is a phase, and growth spurts are no exception,” says Perdomo. “They usually last about 1-3 days, so overall, they are relatively short-lived.”
When Baby is going through a growth spurt, your main goal can simply be to survive it. “The most important thing is mentality — accept that a baby’s growth and development is not a linear line, that every day is different, and not become too intensely focused on controlling how each day goes,” advises Dr. Amy Conrad, a pediatrician. “There are times, such as during growth spurts, where you can stick to the routine 100% and do everything ‘right,’ and still have a cranky unhappy baby.” In other words, go easy on yourself and just know that this spurt won’t last forever. Thankfully, baby growth spurts are very temporary, and give yourself some grace to get through it.
“Self-care is so important during growth spurts,” explains Dr. Alison Mitzner, a board-certified pediatrician. “It is important for moms to take the time for themselves and to get the rest they need.” For example, tap in your partner as often as you can to get a break from cluster feeding.
And even though Baby might be wrecking their normal routine, try to keep a steady schedule if you can. “Baby growth spurts can often affect sleep, so try to stick to your bedtime routine as much as possible to provide some predictability, which can help calm your baby,” says Dr. Stephanie Lee, a pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist. That said, if your little one wants to cluster feed, go ahead and let them eat. “During growth spurts, respond to the baby’s changing needs — if they want to feed more, respond and let them feed more,” says Conrad.
You were pretty impressed that your newborn was able to sleep a few hours at a stretch. But then, they started getting downright hangry at all hours of the day — and night. “During a growth spurt, your baby may want to eat more calories and that can lead to either increased feeding volumes or cluster feeding, where they feed in short amounts but more frequently,” Lee explains.
What about sleep — do babies sleep a lot during growth spurts or does sleep schedules go out the window? “Some babies tend to sleep longer during growth spurts, but others may actually sleep less as they are waking up to feed more,” adds Lee. As always, every baby is different.
During a growth spurt, what you should expect is the unexpected. “Your normal routines might be off, which doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the routine,” says Conrad. “Expect to be confused or feeling uncertain if you’re doing the right thing and remember to follow your instincts. You know your child best.”
Baby growth spurts aren’t easy, for either you or for Baby. But by practicing some extra patience, following your baby’s cues, and simply letting everything else go, you’ll be able to survive your baby’s growth spurt. And in just a few days, your baby will be back to their sweet self — and perhaps a little longer and bigger, too.
Dr. Joanna Perdomo, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital
Dr. Amy Conrad, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician
Dr. Stephanie Lee, M.D., MPH, FAAP, a pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist
Dr. Alison Mitzner, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician