Your baby suddenly wants to feed all the time, is more irritated and fuzzy, cries, seems to want to feed constantly, but is struggling at the breast… And maybe you are thinking: Am I running out of milk?
But wait… maybe your baby is going through a growth spurt!
Babies usually go through several growth spurts (some call them frequency days, in Spanish we even call them breastfeeding crisis) during the first 12 months of life, when their demand for milk typically increases. This can cause them to wake up more often and want to breastfeed all the time. In addition, babies may cry more, be fussy, fight when breastfeeding, stretch their legs and back while feeding…
As if that was not enough, at certain moments you may notice that your breasts are softer… This is perfectly normal. Remember, milk does not disappear all of a sudden!
Growing up is not the only possible reason why a baby may need to suck more for a while or be more fussy. He may show the same type of behavior when he is experiencing developmental advances: when he learns to roll over, crawl, or when he starts walking or talking.
When do growth spurts occur?
Growth spurts usually appear on the second day of birth and around 15-20 days, at 6 or 7 weeks, at 3 months, and at many other times: at 4 and 8 months of age, at 1 year, at 2 years… Actually, at any important time of the baby’s development. However, keep in mind that each baby has its own pace and the dates are always indicative, your baby can experience them at any time of its growth.
How long do they last?
Growth spurts usually last between 2 or 3 days, but sometimes they can last a week or more, as in the 3-month spurt.
What should I do?
Follow your baby’s lead and feed as often as he or she needs to: breastfeeding more often will automatically bring in more milk, and will cause your milk supply to increase in a short time. It is not necessary or advisable to supplement your baby with formula or pumped milk as supplements and bottles can interfere with your production, preventing your body from receiving the message that more milk should be produced, and in some cases, it may result in your baby no longer wanting to be breastfed. Above all, tons of patience and love…nothing lasts forever!
How do I know if my baby is going through a growth spurt or there is any other problem?
If your baby is gaining weight normally, the higher demand and the increased fussiness are probably just due to a growth spurt.
But if your baby has difficulty gaining weight properly or is showing signs of pain or discomfort, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor.