Dossier: Our baby

Growth spurts – it’s just a phase

There’s no need to worry if your baby is suddenly restless, clingy and starts to cry a lot. It’s probably just one of eight growth phases in which children come on in leaps and bounds in the first few months. What are the signs of a growth spurt?

Text: Julie Freudiger; photo: Sanitas

Until recently, your baby was happy, slept well and rarely cried. And now he’s grouchy, restless, wakes up a lot and is shy with strangers. Don’t panic! In most cases, it’s simply a sign that your baby is undergoing one of eight stages of development that occur in the first 14 months.

In these phases babies learn new mental and motor skills and their perception changes. This can be disturbing and frightening for them. Imagine that you suddenly see everything from a different perspective, or can suddenly hear and smell much better. Your world would be turned on its head. It’s no wonder then that babies are initially overwhelmed by the new situation and look for support and closeness from their trusted carers.

What can parents do?

Growth spurts can also be a challenging time for parents. What babies need most now is calmness, love and attention. Make time for your baby and be patient, knowing that the phase won’t last forever! Most of these phases only usually last a week.

During this time babies usually also want to eat more. After all, learning, discovering and handling new emotions takes a lot of energy. This means that breastfeeding mums will have to feed their babies more often and stimulate their milk production.

No fixed schedule

Don’t worry if your child doesn’t keep to the exact timetable predicted by apps and guides. Some children learn to walk as early as ten months, while others only start four months later. Both are normal. And: For children who are born prematurely or past the due date, the calculation doesn’t start from birth, but from the originally calculated date. For example, a baby who was born three weeks early won’t enter the first phase five weeks after the birth, but more like eight.