Six Weeks to Four Months: Growth Spurts
Now many of the early feeding wrinkles are ironed out. Your baby is probably a bit more consistent, eating and sleeping better—unless of course she’s plagued by gastrointestinal problems or she’s very sensitive to her environment. In that case, hopefully you’ve learned to accept her temperament and are more tuned in to her cues by now. You also know the best way of feeding her and keeping her comfortable after meals, and you’re using your common sense to make life a little easier for her. At this stage, I get variations on the following two complaints: I can’t get my baby to sleep more than three or four hours during the night.
My baby was sleeping for five or six hours during the night hut now she’s waking up more frequently, but always at different times.
they’re calling me about a sleeping issue, but to their surprise, both problems are related to food at this stage. By eight weeks, many babies—my
babies—are sleeping at least five hours through the night, if not six. Naturally, it also depends on birth-weight and temperament, but after six weeks, we should at least be moving in that direction, encouraging them to sleep a good stretch at night. And with babies who have already started to sleep longer stretches, night—waking is commonly due to a growth spurt—a period, typically lasting a day or two, when your baby’s body demands more food.
The ol’ Baby Whisperer has a few little tricks up her sleeve just for either situation.
If your baby is average-sized or heavier and has never been able to get to sleep more than three or four hours, I first ask, How many naps and for how long is your baby sleeping during the day?
It could be that her daytime naps are robbing her nighttime sleep (an issue I cover on pages 177—178, where I advise you to never let your baby sleep for more than two) hours at a time during the day). But if her naps aren’t too long and she still can’t put more than three or four hours together at night, it probably means she needs to be eating more food during the day and to have a full tummy when you put her to bed. If you haven’t already done so, I would suggest tanking up (see page 93 and 195).
In the second situation, where a baby has been sleeping through for five or six hours and now starts waking at different times, it usually means that she’s going through a growth spurt. Growth spurts happen for the first time between six and eight weeks and recur thereafter about once a month or every six weeks. The one at five or six months is usually a signal that it’s time to introduce solid food.
Growth spurts can occur earlier in bigger babies, which can he confusing. A mum will call and say, “My baby is four months old, he’s 8.2 kg (eighteen pounds), and he’s eating 250 ml (eight ounces) at every feed, but he’s still waking up once or twice in the night. I’m not supposed to give him solid food in the night.” In that case, you have to use your judgment. You can’t give him more liquid and he obviously needs more to sustain him.
The question that helps me determine whether a baby is having a growth spurt is: Does she wake at the same hour every night, or is her waking pattern erratic?
If it’s erratic, it’s usually a growth spurt. This email illustrates a typical scenario: “I’ve just started my seven-week-old Olivia on E.A.S.Y., which she has taken to really well. But since we’ve started, her sleeping schedule at night has become more erratic. Before she would wake up at 2:45. But lately she seems to have no consistency despite her eating and sleeping at relatively the same time during the day. We have kept a log and we can’t really find anything that we are doing differently each night that would cause her to sometimes wake up at 1 and other times not until 4:30. Is there anything we can do to promote her to sleep until at least 2:45 like she used to?”
In a case like Olivia’s, I knew it was definitely a growth spurt, because she had been a pretty good eater and sleeper all along, and her parents seem to have instinctually had her on a routine. Another real tip-off was that although she usually woke at 2:45 A.M., her mum noted, “since we’ve started, her sleeping schedule at night has become more erratic
[emphasis mine].” Because her waking happened to coincide with the parents’ putting Olivia on E.A.S.Y., they naturally assumed her sudden sleep distur¬bances had something to do with the new routine. But in reality, their baby is just hungry. And the reason Mum and Dad can’t figure out anything they
are doing is that this is about what Olivia’s body is doing!
Let’s say that we’re talking about a baby who’s never slept well. She still wakes up twice a night. She, too, might be going through a growth spurt, but she also could be getting into a very bad sleep pattern, and Mum and Dad reinforce it by feeding her when she wakes. So how do you know the difference? One clue is the waking pattern: Generally, habitual wakers get up at almost the same time every night—you can almost set a clock by them. Babies who wake erratically are usually hungry. But the best clue is food intake: When Mum tries to feed her, if she’s
having a growth spurt, she will take a full feed because her body needs the extra food. If she doesn’t take more than a few ounces, it’s pretty conclu¬sive evidence that we’re dealing with a bad sleeping pattern, not a hungry baby (see pages 191—192 for more on habitual waking).
The prescription for a growth spurt is always the same: increase food during the day and, if you haven’t already started doing so, add a dreamfeed
(see Cluster & Dreamfeeding FAQ - http://www.babywhispererforums.com/index.php?topic=54662.0
) at night. With bottle-fed babies, we increase by 25 ml (one ounce) the amount of formula you give during the day. With breast-fed babies, it’s a little trickier, because you increase the feed time
rather than the amount.
So if your baby is on a three-hour routine, bump it up a hit to every 2 ½ hours. With an older baby Who’s on a “4/4” routine (page 33), you have to go back to feeding every three or 3 ½ hours. Some moms find this advice confusing, like Joanie, a mother in Florida, who told me, “That feels like we’re going backward. I finally got him on a four hour routine. I explained that this is just a temporary
measure. By feeding more often, she was letting her body know that it had to manufacture more milk for four—month—old Matthew, and in a few days, she would be producing enough milk to satisfy his new needs.
Growth spurts can disrupt your baby’s routine at bedtime, during the middle of the night, or when you put them down for a nap. Even parents Who are aware that growth spurts periodically occur may not realise that the so-called sleep issue or a bad case of cot-phobia is really about food. One mother, whose son David was six weeks old, had been working with the EASY. method for three days. The first two days, she wrote, worked like a charm. We followed the routine, and I was so proud that he was able to fall asleep in the cot consistently (with the help of a dummy). However, today (the third day), he has been crying pretty hard from the moment we enter his bedroom and begin our routine before his nap. He has been eating more frequently since last night, and I suspect he’s in a growth spurt. Can this resistance to his bedroom he related to growth spurt?
Absolutely. Little David is saying (through his tears), “ I don’t want to go to sleep. I want more food. So feed me.” If he isn’t fed, he’ll start to associate hunger with his bedroom. Babies are primal creatures, but they also very quickly learn by association. If you were sent to your room before you finished your dinner, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t want to go to your room, either! You’d see it as a bad place. taken from Secrets of the Baby Whisperer