It must be a growth spurt...
How many times have you heard that line?
"It be a growth spurt!"
Baby slept terribly last night. Growth spurt. Baby is sleeping lots today. Growth spurt. Huh? What's the truth about growth spurts and sleep? Is it all myth, or is there some truth to the way that sleep is affected? And do babies sleep more or less when they're having a spurt? Read on to see what we think!
What is a growth spurt?
A growth spurt is simply a short period of time in which your baby's brain and body undergo rapid developments. Your baby's weight and height will rise rapidly during a growth spurt, and chances are high that you will know when it's happening. The most noticeable growth spurts take place in the first twelve months of life, and like most things sleep most definitely is affected. Of course.
Your baby's brain will go through some amazing stages of development in the first 18 months of life, and when you think about it, it's little wonder that babies are affected by it all. So many things to learn and skills to master!
How is sleep affected?
Some babies sleep a lot during a growth spurt. And this makes sense, because sleep is when the body recharges, cells are renewed and the body and brain develops. So if the body needs to step up the pace for some serious growing, it makes sense that more sleep is needed. That said, some babies are a little more cranky than usual during a growth spurt, and of course this can affect sleep.
Some babies can also become quite clingy during a growth spurt, and want to spend most of the day (and night) being cuddled. All that brain development and learning new skills can be tiring but confusing too. So while your baby might want (and need) a little extra sleep during a growth spurt, she could well have a few problems getting to sleep for a few days or more.
How to cope during a growth spurt
Remember that it won't last forever. Growth spurts are usually short bursts and normal service is resumed quite quickly. So, take a deep breath and try these tips:
- No need to feed baby more than is necessary, but respond to hunger cues as normal. Your baby might want to feed a little more, and that's fine- but don't feel you need to feed her more than she demands.
- Get support from your partner, friends and family. A clingy, demanding baby is hard work!
- If you're breastfeeding, drink lots of water to help your supply keep up with demand.
- Try to rest as much as you can, so that you're more able to cope during the day (and night) when you're in demand,
- When baby does get to sleep, try to sleep then too. If she is sleeping more than usual, take advantage of it!
How to help baby sleep during a growth spurt
All you can really do for your baby is remain consistent. Keep your routine as regular as you can, and keep on top of naps throughout the day. Remember to watch for sleep cues (yawning, rubbing eyes, fussiness etc) and act on them as quickly as possible. Don't let your baby get too over tired and keep in mind that longer or extra sleeps might be on the agenda for a couple of weeks or so.