Could It Be a Growth Spurt?
Just when you thought you had it all figured out…. Your child grows!
Are you used to nights where your little one sleeps all the way through the night or for at least 5-6 hour blocks? Have those nights suddenly disappeared and been replaced with nights where your baby is awake constantly and crying for seemingly no reason? There could be several reasons but if your 3-month-old baby or 5-month-old baby or even 7-month-old-baby is waking regularly after being a consistent sleeper. This change in their sleep pattern could be caused by a growth spurt.
Babies have normal growth spurts particularly in the first 12 months. During this time, they tend to put on plenty of weight as they prepare to grow taller, to crawl and then walk. Every child is unique and they adapt to these growth spurts differently but most often parents report their little ones waking frequently, becoming increasingly clingy, being irritable and crying a lot more.
Growing isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires a lot of energy and resources and it can create a great deal of discomfort both physically and emotionally. During a growth spurt your baby’s perception of the world usually changes dramatically and for some little ones it can be confusing and even frightening. During this time you may need to adjust your child’s sleep and feeding routine if you have one. Or if you don’t have a sleep schedule, now might be the time to implement one to give your child some consistency during these big changes.
If you think your baby is going through a growth spurt and they seems really unsettled, be sure to give extra comfort and cuddles, clear your own schedule if possible and make the time to be fully present with your baby during this change. If it takes longer for your baby to settle to sleep, you may need to be more flexible and let them sleep later or for longer. Even though they’re waking more frequently they usually have an increased need for sleep and food to help them adapt to this next stage of their life.
Although a growth spurt is normal, I always find it helpful to think of it as a healing period. Just like when our children are sick, they need a little extra time and energy from us (or sometimes a lot). So be sure to set up the appropriate support system in case you need to rely more on your partner, friends and family members to help you out.
I know it’s hard, as mothers we’re programmed to put our children’s needs first and take care of them at all costs but its important they have your loving, healthy, consistent presence, so that means taking care of yourself and getting plenty of rest and good nutrition yourself. Mums often have a funny habit of putting themselves last, we tell ourselves all sorts of stories and reasons why there’s no time for us but there are always small things we can do to support ourselves like asking for help, asking a family member or a friend to prepare a meal, taking some time to nap when your partner is home with the baby, watching a TV show you enjoy or simply stepping out into the sunshine for 5 minutes and breathing it into your whole body. Whatever you choose, your child will thank you for it.
Don’t be discouraged. Growth spurts, although disruptive to a baby’s sleep schedule or routine, are an important part of their development. The biggest challenge is to recognise them when they come and adapt to them as you go. There are a lot things that will interrupt your baby’s sleep routine and your own schedule, this is just one of many but remember it wont last forever.
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