Baby growth spurts and breastfeeding

Baby concentrating on breastfeedingOnce you get the hang of breastfeeding, you may find that you fall into a routine as your baby's feeding habits begin to follow a familiar pattern. But this can all go out of the window when your baby has a growth spurt.

During a growth spurt your baby may become ravenous, wanting more and more milk and wanting feeds more frequently which can be a bit alarming and also exhausting.

Try not to worry - your baby has got a lot of growing to do and it doesn't always happen gradually. In fact, babies often have intense growth bursts that last two to four days. They have about five in their first year - roughly (very roughly) at between one and three weeks, another between six and eight weeks and then at around three months, six months and nine months.

All babies are different though, so don't go ringing any dates on the calendar: it's just not that predictable.

How can I tell if my baby is having a growth spurt?

They have a seemingly insatiable hunger, sometimes feeding every hour night and day. They may seem a bit more fussy or out of sorts and less easy to settle even directly after a feed.

Sleep patterns may become erratic, with your baby sleeping much more than usual or, indeed, much less (who could sleep when there's all that drinking to be done?).

Sometimes your baby will be very calm and settled before a period of rapid growth and may actually eat less and sleep a bit more. They are just having a bit of a rest before their feeding frenzy.

A similar sort of thing may happen when your baby is growing developmentally and learning new skills, such as sitting up or crawling. These developmental shifts can also cause your baby to want more food than usual, or to have a change to their sleeping patterns.

How can I cope with the constant feeding and how can I tell my baby is getting enough milk?

The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will supply, so follow your baby's lead and feed them whenever they want.

You may find the whole growth-spurt feeding-frenzy business quite exhausting and it may seem like your baby is feeding constantly, but go with it because it will pass. It's the sudden ravenousness that makes many women think they've 'run out' of milk when, in fact, all their babies are doing by suckling more is stimulating their breasts to produce more milk.

A growth spurt should only last a few days so if your baby is seemingly insatiable for longer than this and you are worried about it, ask your midwife or GP about it. Meanwhile keep your nerve, bag yourself a comfy place on the sofa and stick with it.

What Mumsnetters say about baby growth spurts and constant feeding

  • It's like putting a note out for the milkman, saying 'Extra pint tomorrow please!' jamila169
  • Just keep feeding on demand. Don't be tempted to introduce formula because it'll only mean your breasts produce less milk. Growth spurts are tiring but they don't last long. MarsLady
  • It will pass! All this cluster feeding is so important for establishing a good supply. I found it worse if I kept willing my daughter to stop feeding so I could get some sleep, better to just accept that this is what they need to do and you'll catch up on sleep some time. Try not to be tempted to give formula as it will mess with your supply. junemami 

 

Image: Shutterstock

Last updated: 16-Dec-2013 at 12:55 PM