Infant Growth Spurts

Usually right around the baby’s 2-3 week of life I receive a desperate call from a new momma, ” My baby is wanting to eat all the time, I can’t satisfy her, she must be starving and I must have no milk!” Well momma, never fear your lactation consultant is here! I can assure you your baby is probably NOT starving, and most likely you have PLENTY of milk, your little bundle is simply going through his/her first growth spurt. It is very rare for a woman to not be able to produce milk. Although there are many reasons why a woman may have a low milk supply, this is most likely not what is causing this sudden erratic behavior from your little one, especially if it was a sudden change and you have previously been able to produce plenty of milk.

Most babies will experience a 7-10% weight loss right after birth, which is normal. Their fat storage which they developed in the uterus helps to sustain them during those first few weeks after delivery. We call this their “Brown Fat”. Breast fed babies should regain their birth weight by the time they reach 10-14 days of life. Formula fed babies may reach that by 2 weeks. Once they have regained their birth weight is usually when that very first growth spurt kicks in. These little ones actually won’t experience their “spurt” till the 3 week marker, but they begin tanking up around the 2 week marker. So what happens you ask? Your baby wants to eat….ALL THE TIME! Their tiny little bodies are soaking in every last bit of your magical milk to help them grow. Not to mention that this frequent suckling is sending messages to your brain to tell your breasts to make more milk and make it fast. The “schedule” you may have had of feeding your baby round the clock every 3 hours, pretty much goes out the door during growth spurt time. These little people will seem insatiable, and the best thing you can do is feed your baby when he is asking for it. Feeding him on demand, is the very best advice you can follow.

Remember your breasts work by supply and demand, the more you feed the more milk you are going to make. If you are focused on being a “Clock Watcher” vs. a “Baby Watcher” you are going to find yourself very frustrated, with a screaming kid on your hands. For example, say you fed your baby at 8pm and all of a sudden 9pm or 9:30pm rolls around and you see your baby sucking on his hands, licking his lips, rooting towards mom, he is telling you he is hungry. You should feed your baby. If you look at your baby, giving you every feeding cue in the book but say, “Sorry honey, it hasn’t been 3 hours yet, your just going to half to wait” your little bundle is going to start screaming it’s precious little head off! Like I said before…be a baby watcher not a clock watcher.

Growth spurts are a normal and healthy part of development. The first one usually happens between 2-3weeks of age, again at 6 weeks, and 9 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months. A good rule of thumb is 3-6-9 usually means it is growing time! If your baby was born premature there is usually a catch up phase. Your little one will, depending on how early he/she was born, may need to catch up gestationally so that first growth spurt may be delayed. For example if you had a little 34 week gestation baby born, your baby may or may not experience that first growth spurt till he is 8 weeks old, because gestationally he would then be 2 weeks old. Eventually those early babies catch up, some sooner then later, but when they do they will be following the same growth pattern as all their little friends.

So to sum up when your baby is around 2 weeks,is rooting non-stop, wanting to be at the breast 24/7, eating every hour to hour and a half….let him be at the breast 24/7 and eat every hour and half. His or her little body needs it and all that feeding is going to boost your milk supply for when the actual growth spurt happens. Do not worry…this insatiable eating will not last forever, it lasts for about 4 days and then your “schedule” will return to normal…at least until the next growth spurt happens!

Copyright© 2013 Danielle Gauss,IBCLC – All Rights Reserved.

This entry was posted in Benefits to Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding Basics, Feeding Cues, Growth Spurts, Infant Weight Gain. Bookmark the permalink.