Breastfeeding "frequency days" and growth spurts

During the first year of life, babies who had been breastfeeding on a regular schedule will suddenly want to feed much more often, leaving parents perplexed and overwhelmed. These times of increased demand for feeding, known as “frequency days,” could be caused by growth spurts.

What are growth spurts? 

Growth spurts are short periods of rapid increase in size. Growth has been shown to occur in bursts rather than at a steady rate.

When do growth spurts happen? 

Growth spurts in the first year of life have been observed to occur at around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age, although the timing may vary.

How long does frequent feeding last? 

Frequent feeding signaling a growth spurt usually lasts for about 2 or 3 days but can last for a week or more. Feedings may be longer during this time as well.

What should I do during frequency days? 

Because your baby may seem cranky, fussy, or out of sorts during frequency days, well-meaning friends and relatives may suggest that “your milk isn’t rich enough,” that “you’re not making enough milk,” that “you need to give your baby formula or solid food,” or that “it’s time to stop breastfeeding.”

In fact, just the opposite is true. It’s time to breastfeed more, although temporarily. Your body naturally regulates the amount of milk it produces in response to your baby’s needs. The more milk your baby takes from your breasts, the more milk you will make. There’s no reason to believe that you can’t or won’t make enough breast milk to meet the needs of your growing baby. Your body will respond to your baby’s frequency days by making more milk.

Be patient during growth spurts. Resist the temptation to offer supplements. Once your body gets the message, it will ramp up its supply to meet your baby’s needs. 

Last updated January 8, 2018

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