I’ll be honest—one of my good friends is a panicky new mom. She calls her baby’s pediatrician whenever she notices even the slightest change in his behavior or his habits. The doctor is used to it at this point, and there’s really nothing wrong with being cautious. However, during a recent visit, I was pretty curious what the doctor would say about her latest concern. She noticed that her baby boy was suddenly hungrier than ever. She would start feeding him on his normal schedule but he would be crying for food at least twice between every regular feeding. She immediately thought the worst and assumed it was a parasite or nutrient problem, but the pediatrician told her the variations in his hunger were completely normal, and this variation was right on schedule at six weeks after the birth. Her baby was actually going through a growth spurt.

Though babies seem to grow at a consistent, rapid pace, there are a few times when his or her body will be in overdrive and more food will be necessary. The best thing you can do is to follow your baby’s lead in these times of increased hunger. His body is craving more food to grow, so throw out the old feeding schedule for now and watch for his natural signs of hunger, which means don’t wait until he’s crying. Look for more subtle signs such as lip sucking, positioning for nursing, and sucking on hands. By looking out for these signs, especially during a growth spurt, you can avoid meltdowns when the true hunger sets in. It’s much harder to calm down a screaming baby for feeding than it is to feed a baby as soon as he or she seems slightly hungry.

If your baby seems to be eating a lot more than usual, there’s a good chance he or she is also experiencing a growth spurt. Think of it as an infant version of the teenage years and a preview of the moment when your teenage boy turns fifteen and you simply cannot keep the fridge full enough. It’s actually a good thing that your baby is so hungry, and the extra food will keep him or her growing strong and healthy. Just follow your baby’s lead through the growth spurt, and don’t worry too much about the old feeding schedule until his habits have returned to normal.

Source: Maria Noonan: Breastfeeding – Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk? British Journal of Midwifery Volume 19 Issue 2 pp. 82-89 February 2011