Life with a baby is full of surprises and challenges. Despite the enormous joy of now being able to count a new family member among you, everyday life with a baby is not always all rosy.
Being informed about the growth spurt of babies helps you to understand your baby better. It will also make it easier for you to help both mother and baby through these challenging times.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about baby growth spurts.
What Is A Baby Growth Spurt?
A baby growth spurt is a limited period during which your baby’s development speed increases significantly. Of course, your baby is developing every day, but during this phase, the process is much faster.
The term growth spurt can be misleading because even though your baby gains some height and head circumference, especially the mental and motor development makes immense leaps during this period.
When Does A Growth Spurt Occur In Babies And How Long Does It Last?
Babies experience several growths or developmental spurts in the first few months of life. Every child is different, but usually, these spurts last one to two weeks. We list below the most important stages and new abilities of your baby after such spurts. For premature or late-born babies, the calendar may shift slightly.
1. Growth Spurt Around The 5th Week
Your baby is suddenly more attentive and interacts more directly with his environment. He smiles, gurgles with joy, and reacts to new objects and creatures. Physically, you can also notice new skills. Breathing becomes more regular and your baby doesn’t choke as often. Burping is also faster.
2. Growth Spurt Around The 8th Week
At two months, some babies start laughing out loud. They now even track objects and creatures with their eyes. Your baby plays with its little hands and tries to reach for things.
If he hears an unfamiliar sound, he turns his head and looks for the source of the sound. When your baby is lying on his stomach, he can hold his head up for a few seconds.
3. Growth Spurt Around Week 12
The twelfth week is probably the beginning of intense communication between you and your baby. He openly shows his enthusiasm, kicks with joy, reacts to greetings, and is increasingly interested in everything new in his environment.
In the prone position, he is now able to carry his head, and his little hands are strong enough to hold objects for a short time.
4. Growth Spurt Around The 19th Week
Around week 19, you will notice that this growth spurt gives the baby a lot of new mental and physical abilities.
It now focuses on things, animals, and people for much longer periods can watch others do things with a fascination for longer periods, looks for objects that are out of its field of vision, and responds to its reflection in a mirror.
In a prone position, it can now even stretch its arms forward. He understands simple, repetitive questions and phrases.
5. Growth Spurt Around The 26th Week
For many babies, the 5th growth spurt is a real milestone in their social development. They now respond to their name and consciously draw the attention of those around them, for example by throwing baby toys to the floor or by deliberately coughing.
Motor skills have also improved significantly. They can pick up the second object in the other hand without dropping the first one. In the prone position, babies lift their arms, legs, and head at the same time.
6. Growth Spurt Around The 37th Week
After the sixth growth spurt, the baby can crawl around the house, know the meaning of the word ‘no’, and presents its first tantrums to its astonished parents when it gets frustrating.
At this age, it is capable of learning from mistakes. For example, if it burns itself on a candle wick, it will respectfully give all candles in the house a wide berth afterward.
7. Growth Spurt Around The 46th Week
After this growth spurt, babies can say an average of five different words, even if their parents are the only ones who understand them. Crawling is now joined by the ability to climb.
It is not uncommon to find your baby outside its crib in the morning during this phase. To avoid accidents, it may be a good idea to pave his way out of bed and remove two or three crib rails.
8. Growth Spurt Around The 55th Week
The final growth spurt for babies happens around 55 weeks, a little after their 1st birthday. This growth spurt slowly but surely moves your baby into toddlerhood.
They learn to walk, are interested in picture books, imitate adults, and do all kinds of experiments that are essential for their development – like eating applesauce off the tablecloth! However, such experiments can be nerve-racking for parents in everyday life.
Increased Crying And Other Unpleasant Symptoms Of Growth Spurts
You see, growth spurts are indispensable for your child. They are part of his normal development. But, as mentioned above, these very positive developmental spurts are crowned by more or less pleasant accompanying symptoms.
Your baby cries more in the evening, seems nervous and constantly unhappy, has problems falling asleep, wakes up more often at night, wants to go to the breast more often, or needs a bottle more to get full.
He clings to you, is frightened by seemingly normal objects, and at the sight of new faces. These symptoms are completely normal and easy to explain: Your child is physically tired and hungrier because the new motor skills he or she is developing take a lot of energy.
In addition, it must now process all the new impressions it is gaining due to its mental maturity. Your child feels, just as you do, that things are changing in his perception. This new awareness makes him nervous and insecure. It now needs more of your attention and affection.
Helping The Baby And Yourself During The Growth Spurt
How can you help your baby if it doesn’t want to fall asleep at night or cries all the time? The most important thing is undoubtedly your understanding of his unusual condition.
Of course, you know that your baby is not intentionally exposing you to his mood swings. A whining baby is either tired, overwhelmed, sick, hungry, thirsty, in pain somewhere, or has a full diaper.
And during the growth spurt, babies are usually tired, mentally overwhelmed, and hungry. The calmer and more relaxed you are about your baby’s cranky behavior, the faster he or she will relax again.
Your child is closely connected to you and absorbs all your negative emotions like a sponge. Therefore, you should also pay special attention to yourself during this time and allow yourself the necessary relaxation.
Here are a few simple tips and tricks to help you maneuver your mother-child ship through the waves of growth spurts:
- Stay close to your body
- Time out for the mother
During the growth spurt, every baby is more affectionate. His discoveries and perceptions unsettle him, and your baby now demands physical closeness. Take him in your arms as often as possible and carry him around the house.
A baby sling is especially practical during push phases, so you can continue your usual activities at the same time. Your child will also feel more secure when you are out and about. Leave the stroller at home during this time or use it less often, only when your child is too heavy for you.
A baby’s growth spurt is also the right time to make an exception. Maybe your child normally sleeps in his room. Now, however, it wakes up constantly at night and cries for you.
Then it is neither a shame nor a parenting mistake to put a crib in the bedroom for a few days. This way he feels your closeness at night and does not wake up so often. It will also fall asleep faster, which is beneficial for all family members.
As you already know, a growth spurt is a time of uncertainty for babies. Their perception of the world changes and so does their relationship with the environment. Right now it is important for your baby to feel that it still has its place, that it exists in your consciousness.
Therefore, it will now want to draw your attention to itself more often. Respond positively to this need and you will see that your child will be calmer and more balanced throughout the day.
Sometimes a gentle look, a benevolent smile, or a kind word is enough to make your baby feel at ease again. Even a few simple finger games work great.
For your baby’s growth spurt to be as relaxed as possible, you should also remember that he or she now needs more food. For breastfeeding mothers, more frequent feedings can be a bit painful and energy-sapping at first.
Many mothers also feel that they do not have enough milk. However, the body usually adapts quickly to the baby’s new needs. By feeding more often, milk production increases all by itself.
For babies who take powdered milk or already more solid food, you should also trust the baby’s appetite. If it is dissatisfied after the usual amount and asks for more, this is most likely due to the growth spurt. After all, a baby never eats more than it needs.
Time Out For The Mother
During this stressful time, you must recharge your batteries regularly. Even the most patient mother will eventually be so worn down by all the crying, whining, and dissatisfaction of her baby that she needs time out.
Give your child to daddy or grandma in the evening and go to the movies or out to eat with friends. You don’t need to feel guilty about this. Being a good mother also means taking care of yourself from time to time so that you can be there for your child again with fresh energy.