Last week I got to hold a 6-week-old baby. Baby S is alert and sweetand communicative and snuggly. And hungry. I walked into Baby S's parents' apartment and said "Hi" and his mom said "He's been clusterfeeding all day" in that tone of voice second-time mothers use. I got there around 6:30 pm, and he'd been nursing for five hours, more or less straight, and he nursed for most of the three hours I was there.
I know we're not supposed to overpraise kids, but Baby S is *really good* at having a growth spurt. (His mom is good at riding it out, too.)
Here are the growth spurt basics:
* They happen at around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.
* They happen in breastfed and bottlefed babies.
* You will recognize a growth spurt because the baby will eat more for anywhere from a few hours one day to all day for 3 or 4 days in a row. And it could be anything from eating a little bit more, to an all-out nursing almost constantly for hours at a time like Baby S (and both of my kids) did.
* Some babies hit all growth spurts hard. Some babies don't seem to hit growth spurts with any particular vigor. Some babies hit one or two of the growth spurts harder than the others. It's all normal.
* For breastfed babies, the point is to bring your milk supply up. So if you're nursing for hours and you feel tapped out, your baby may still keep nursing anyway. Then in a day or two you'll be making way more milk, which your baby will be more efficient at drinking (because of the growth part of the growth spurt) so feedings probably won't take any longer and might stretch out a lot.
* Lots of babies will sleep longer stretches after they come out of a growth spurt. (But not all, so don't hate me if yours doesn't.)
* If you're bottlefeeding, the growth spurt is your cue that your baby is going to start taking more formula at a feeding. But, as with breastfed babies, the feedings might stretch out a little once the spurt is over.
* If you think of it, take a picture of your baby as soon as you figure out it's a growth spurt. Then take another picture the next day. My kids grew visibly over the course of a day during their 6-week growth spurts. Hilarious.
* You're doing a good job. The growth spurts can make you feel out of control and inadequate, but they're normal and you're doing all the right things. Have a glass of water and some chocolate.
Anecdotes about growth spurts? One of my worst parenting moments was in day 1 of my older son's 3-week growth spurt, which happened when he was 17 days old. I'd nurse him, and he'd finish, and then start crying again like he was hungry, but I knew he couldn't be because I'd just nursed him. My mom had gone home the day before, and I had no one to troubleshoot with, and I'd checked everything and he just kept crying, and finally I screamed at him, "Why am I not good enough for you??" I can't remember ever feeling worse about being a mother, not even when the same child ate a piece of cat poop out of the litter box, drank from a puddle of rainwater at the playground, or licked the floor of the subway car during a tantrum.
Fortunately, I emailed my friend Lynne, mom of three, who said, "Oh, it's just the three-week-growth spurt" and explained it all. So let me just put some key search phrases in here for desperate parents on the internet: baby won't stop eating baby won't stop nursing baby won't stop crying baby won't stop breastfeeding baby wants more milk baby wants more formula three week 3 week 6 week six week I am a shitty mother please help.
Now you tell your growth spurt story, please.