Growth spurt: what it is and how to deal with it serenely

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Growth spurt in children

La growth of children it is not regular, but it has peaks: «There is a moment in which from a phase of normality the child changes his habits, until then to find the balance that seemed lost. This phase is called "growth spurt".

The important thing in this phase is to get help from the pediatrician and follow his instructions ", emphasizes Dr. Serena Catania, specialist in Pediatrics, co-owner of the Ars Pediatrica studio in our city.

In this article


  • What is a growth spurt 
  • When growth spurts occur 
  • How to recognize a growth spurt 
  • How to handle a growth spurt if you are breastfeeding
  • How to handle a growth spurt if you are formula feeding
  • How to manage a growth spurt with mixed feeding
Read also: Newborn growth charts

What is a growth spurt

The growth spurt is a period in which the child grows faster than at other times in his life, it can be said that growth appears to be faster

Doctor Catania continues: «Parents must know that these phases are normal and happen to every child. Simply, in these moments the little ones they need to eat more, because they are increasing their growth and therefore their energy needs are increasing. It is important for parents to know that these exist stages of transition in the life of infants and children and therefore that they prepare to face them by implementing simple strategies ".

Read also: The growth of the baby, the stages from 0 to 12 months

When growth spurts occur

«The growth spurts begin from the first weeks of the baby's life, last throughout childhood and then end in puberty when you see the last shot that prepares the child for the transition to adult life. On average they last 2-3 days, but it can even go up to a week ».

In the first year of life of the child growth spurts occur more or less in these periods:

  • between the second and third week of life;
  • between the sixth and eighth week of life;
  • at 3 months;
  • at 6 months;
  • between 8 and 9 months.

How to recognize a growth spurt

According to Dr. Catania: "In most cases, when a child goes through these phases, change his behavior: becomes more irritable and nervous, especially at night. The little ones who are breastfed often do not want to move away from their mothers and require many times to latch on ".

Growth spurt and regurgitation: is there a link?

Yes, there is a link between growth spurts and regurgitation according to theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics. Rapid changes in body height and limb length can cause their center of gravity to change. These babies are more clumsy and prone to regurgitation. 

How to handle a growth spurt if you are breastfeeding

The mistake in these cases, when the child is irritable and insatiable, is to offer alternatives to the breast: "for example water or herbal teas, but also a pacifier or a supplement of artificial milk. In fact, at this moment, no additions are necessary, but it is essential to support the child: to be there, to console him and to attack him on request as much as possible to increase the production of breast milk and satisfy the new nutritional needs of the baby ».

In these delicate phases "it is important to follow the advice of the pediatrician and the support figures present in the counseling centers or breastfeeding consultants who sometimes offer a home counseling service may also be useful ".

How to handle a growth spurt if you are formula feeding

«If the infant's diet is based on artificial milk, managing a growth spurt is a little easier. This is because you know exactly how much milk your baby takes and therefore when you see him dissatisfied with the meal, you can gradually increase the dose, always following the instructions of the pediatrician, until his energy needs are met. All with the aim of avoiding increasing the number of feedings, but only the quantity of liquid ».

Read also: The baby's diary

How to manage a growth spurt with mixed feeding

«For the mothers who carry on theremixed breastfeeding, during a growth spurt, it's fine always favor breastfeeding, trying to offer the breast more often and at the end of the feeding integrate with the bottle, gradually increasing its supply, until the baby seems satisfied ».

«The advice is to try not to replace the entire feeding with artificial milk to avoid, since the breast is less stimulated by sucking, the decrease in the production of breast milk. Also in this case, it is good to proceed by asking for advice and following the instructions of the pediatrician ».

Questions and answers

How long do babies grow up in the first few months?  

Although the growth of the newborn is not linear, but rather occurs in spurts, on average it needs at least 125 grams per week in the first trimester and at least 80 grams per week thereafter. 

When should a baby sleep?  

Up to three months, babies sleep about 16-17 hours a day.

How much should a 3 month old baby eat?  

At 3 months, 5 meals are kept per day but the quantity is increased: about 160/180 ml per feeding. The breastfeeding woman 3 months after delivery produces about 800 ml of milk per day.

Read also: Artificial milk for the newborn: which one to choose. Doses and quantities, preparation

How many growth spurts are there?

The periods in which children have growth spurts are not the same for everyone, they may vary from child to child but in general there are times when they tend to occur more often and are more common. They are typical of the first year of life and occur: 

  • between the 1st and 3rd week
  • between the 6st and 8rd week
  • to 3 months
  • to 6 months
  • to 9 months
  • to 12 months

Always keep in mind that the shots can take place at different times or not correspond to those indicated, what is important is that the child continues to grow regularly.

When does the first growth spurt happen?

The growth spurt it is a period that manifests itself in the first year of life. It can last from a couple of days to a week. In this period the child grows suddenly with an increase in weight, length and head circumference.

Il first shot happens around the second / third week of life. Suddenly the baby appears insatiable, whiny and eager to suckle more often. All this is natural and physiological and should not cause concern. Within a few days, following his requests, the situation will return to normal.

Cognitive growth spurts

In the first 20 months of a baby's life, it also occurs cognitive growth spurts, those related to psychological, logical and cognitive development of child. These development spurts have been defined "Wonder Weeks", in English "prodigious weeks" by two Dutch researchers Frans Plooij and Hetty van de Rijt, who carried out a 35-year study.

Research has shown that in recent weeks some developments in the way of perceiving reality and the world that surrounds the newborn, leading him to manifest some discomfort due to the adaptation to the new. For this reason, each development step is preceded by a period of turbulence in which the baby seems to almost regress, with peaks of crying, difficulty sleeping or eating. The duration of the shots can vary from child to child and can last quite a long time because it is linked to the development of his nervous system.

The first spurts of development are quite short, but as the changes to be assimilated become more complex, the turbulent periods can last several weeks. 

There is no precise rule, every child has his own times and will arrive at the various stages of development of his peers, sometimes before, sometimes after, but in general seven different cognitive growth spurts are indicated that manifest themselves in the following periods:

  • 5 settimane
  • 7 - 9 weeks
  • 11 - 12 weeks
  • 14 - 19 weeks 
  • 22 - 26 weeks 
  • 33 - 37 weeks 
  • 41 - 46 weeks 

This calendar could be useful to get an idea of ​​the time frame in which the child could undergo a cognitive trigger without arousing particular anxiety in the parent.

Growth spikes at 3 months

Around 3 months of life, the baby sharpens the sense of sight. It's a big change because everything looks sharper and grabs his attention. 

Suddenly, he seems hungrier than usual, sucks vigorously, or his feedings are distracted to the point of not sucking enough. So, dissatisfied, he seems to want to always be on the breast. Especially in the evening, he appears inconsolable, nervous and restless. Consequently, the mother begins to be more anxious and worried thinking that her breasts are empty and that the milk is decreasing.

We are in front of the third month growth spurt. It is important to remain calm, even if it is very tiring and tiring, you have to think that everything will return to normal within a few days.

But in the meantime one wonders how to get through these days, how not to panic and reassure the little one. Password "patience"! It will be necessary to satisfy the requests of the child. The closeness with the mother will be fundamental and if he wants to stay on the breast continuously, he will try, as far as possible, to satisfy his request, both to regulate the milk production, and to reassure him and reassure him because the mother's arms are a port. safe. 

After a few days, when the growth spurt has passed, the child will calm down and everything will return to the way it was before. This is the signal that the production has adapted to the request and that the mother will be able to continue breastfeeding her baby without the need to intervene with additions of various kinds.

Growth spikes at 12 months

Around the year of life, another period of turbulence will occur due to motor development and the search for autonomy. During this time the child will acquire an upright position and begin to walk. All this will involve not only the motor field but also the neuronal one. Right around the year, the child will experience an important growth spurt that will last a few weeks. 

It will be a turbulent time when it comes to sleep, he will not want to fall asleep and he will be looking forward to waking up. During these weeks it will be important to remain calm, trying to maintain the usual rhythms of sleep and wakefulness, avoiding incorrect habits. A lot of patience and even this important phase will pass.

Read also: How much do babies grow in the first months. The most important phases

Updated on 30.06.2022

  • child growth
  • breastfeeding
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