Kids grow up so fast! This is even more true for babies - especially in the first few months after they’re born, one growth spurt seems to follow the next. But babies don’t just get bigger during these growth spurts; rather, their brains develop significantly during these periods, as well. In their first fourteen months of life, babies go through a whole eight growth spurts, each of which are accompanied by different signs and behaviors.
In this article, we’ll explain what each baby development stage entails, what signs you should look out for, and what exactly happens during these stages. In each stage, your child starts to get the hang of important new skills for the very first time. It’s therefore completely normal for your baby to demand more closeness and attention from you during these times.
What exactly is a growth or development spurt?
A growth spurt refers to different stages in a baby's development during which they grow and develop new skills. At each stage, babies begin to make new discoveries or learn to perceive their environment differently; this has to do with improved neural connectivity in their little brains. It should be noted, however, that every baby develops differently and at his or her own pace, so there’s no need to worry if your baby makes their milestones a little earlier or later than expected.
These spurts actually occur in very small steps and can give you an idea of how your child is developing in the first few months. In reality, your baby's body is preparing each day to learn and implement a new skill. Some babies take more time or others even skip some of the growth spurts.
Your baby will be able to navigate the world better by the end of these growth spurts. Their movements are more purposeful and the foundation for language acquisition and development will have been built.
How can I recognize a growth spurt?
As a general rule, each growth spurt requires a lot of strength and hard work from your baby. As such, it’s perfectly normal for your baby to fuss or become restless more frequently during these times; likewise, your baby may wake up constantly at night. When a growth spurt takes place, babies typically become more sensitive to their environment because they are first beginning to develop and process their new abilities.
Once the growth spurt has been completed, a calmer and more harmonious phase sets in - until the next spurt announces itself, of course. Babies then try out their newly learned skills again and learn to manage and cope with them. With each growth spurt, your baby learns to become more independent, and even though these periods can be stressful, they eventually pass.
What does my baby need when it's time for a growth spurt?
What your baby most needs during this time is closeness and attention from you. When babies go through a growth spurt or any major change, they feel insecure and need their parents’ support. So, be sure to frequently snuggle your baby and let them hear your voice as much as possible to give them a feeling of security.
In addition, babies often need more food than usual during this time. As such, be prepared to nurse your baby more often than you would otherwise. However, needs may vary from baby to baby, so some babies may actually find that they have less of an appetite.
To support their newly-acquired skills, you can give your baby toys or everyday materials that encourage their use of the latter.
When do growth spurts occur?
In the first fourteen months, babies go through about eight growth spurts that last for about a week. For babies born on their due date, these spurts usually occur in a timely manner, whereas growth spurts may be delayed accordingly in babies born early or late.
The first growth spurt - Week 5
In their fifth week of life, babies become more aware of their environment and begin to take more interest in what is happening around them. At this stage, many parents notice their little one's first smile. Likewise, the baby's tear gland also develops fully.
During this time, your baby will cry frequently and need more of your attention. Try to carry your baby in your arms as often as possible and give them a lot of physical contact. Your baby’s becoming more aware of their environment will also leave them exhausted more quickly during this time. So, try to go at your baby's pace and pay attention to the cues your baby gives when they need a nap.
The second growth spurt - Week 8
Your baby’s senses become more refined during their second growth spurt. For example, they begin to see and hear much better during this phase. The senses of smell and taste also become sharper. Around this time, babies also develop a sense of boredom for the first time and want to be kept busy during waking hours.
Now that your baby can see better, you can use baby mobiles, snuggle cloths or music boxes to give them more stimulation. Since babies can now recognize faces better at this time, they will also experience the feeling of unfamiliarity for the first time. You can expect your baby to react to new faces with skepticism and mistrust.
The third growth spurt - From the third month onwards
Big changes take place in the third month as babies develop more social behaviors. Your baby will begin to respond to voices and can move around more than before. At this point, they lift their heads and may even be able to roll onto their stomachs. They also kick more. They make more use of their sense of touch, grasping at everything within their reach and trying to put all kinds of objects in their little mouths. This is why snuggle cloths made from organic materials are so useful for babies of this age.
Once you’ve reached the third month, it’s a good idea to start establishing a set routine for your baby. A more fixed schedule or way of doing things gives your baby a sense of security and can even help them fall asleep faster at night.
The fourth growth spurt - Between the third and fourth month
In the third to fourth month, babies go through a very long growth spurt that can last several weeks. Babies become more aware of movement which takes place in their range of vision and the oral phase begins. At this time, they can become quite restless at night and can cry more often than was previously typical.
The fifth growth spurt - between the sixth and seventh month
During the fifth growth spurt, babies start to move around more and begin to babble frequently. They feel a wider variety of feelings and start to learn to express them more precisely. During this phase, it’s important that you talk to your baby often and show him or her picture books. In addition, the home should be childproofed by this time at the latest.
The sixth growth spurt - From the ninth month onwards
Once they’re around ninth months old, many babies start crawling and are now able to turn onto their stomachs on their own. Due to all this increased movement, you will often have a very hungry baby on your hands! It's best to try to expose your baby to new food flavors at this time, as part of feeding them a healthy and balanced diet. Babies also begin to learn to categorize objects and animals at this time.
The seventh growth spurt - At the end of the ninth month
Once they’ve started crawling, many children look for new activities: for example, climbing. In addition, babies become more sensitive to time and scheduling, which is why repetition and scheduling become more important at this point. It is best to repeat certain activities in the same order so that babies get used to them as quickly as possible.
The eighth growth spurt - From the thirteenth to fourteenth month
During this stage, your baby will turn into a toddler and begin walking. As part of learning to walk, babies increasingly pull themselves up on furniture and feel their way around the house. As your child becomes capable of more, you’ll begin to do more interesting things with them. As a consequence of their daily routine becoming more exciting, you can expect problems to occur at bedtime. Be prepared for your child to put up more of a protest when it’s time to go to sleep. Certain bedtime rituals to help your baby get to sleep faster are especially useful at this time.
Zizzz products for babies and toddlers
Snuggle cloths are great to train babies' sense of touch. Our bunny snuggle cloth is made from 100% natural materials and completely free from any harmful substances. Since we're from Switzerland, we also offer a cow snuggle cloth, also made from pure organic cotton.
We recommend our baby sleeping bags, as these allow babies and toddlers to move and kick around in their sleep to their hearts’ content. These products are made from soft organic cotton and pure virgin sheep’s wool. They’re breathable and help to regulate your baby’s body temperature.