Do Babies Have Growing Pains? A Pediatrician Explains
The sheer amount my baby has grown in just a few short months is nothing short of impressive... but, like, it also looks kind of painful? You wouldn't assume babies have growing pains, especially if you look at my happy-go-lucky 7-month-old, who is constantly smiling. But my son is growing so quickly it's hard to keep him in clothes that fit, so on days when he's fussy I've found myself worrying that all that growing is actually causing him physical pain.
But according to Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, MD, a board certified pediatrician, nationally renowned parenting expert, author, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, I have nothing to worry about. "There's no real evidence that babies have growing pains," she tell Romper via email. "Although they do grow rapidly within the first year and go through various growth spurts. In fact, babies grow exponentially during the first six months of life."
According to Dr. Trachtenberg, babies experience their most "intense" growth spurts at about 1 week, 3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 9 months of age. ("Basically quiet often!") Each baby is unique and different, though, so Dr. Trachtenberg says that the timing is never exactly the same for every single baby.
While growth spurts don't hurt babies, it's not uncommon for a baby to respond to the physical changes they're experiencing. These reactions, however, can help you determine whether or not your child is experiencing one of their many growth spurts.
"They may seem more fussy, cranky, cluster-feed, or feed more frequently, and sleep can be disrupted," Dr. Trachtenberg says. Your baby might also seem more unsettled, want more attention, want to be held more than normal, or eat more than usual, too. Again, these disruptions aren't the result of your child feeling any physical pain, as reported by BabyCenter's panel of health writers, but just a reaction to their rapid growth.
So, how do you help your baby during these growth spurts? While they won't be hurting, they may require a little more TLC than normal. "If your baby is fussy, hold and soothe baby, cuddle, sing, and play together," Dr. Trachtenberg says. "Also, feed on demand if they seem hungry. Just follow their cues and lead, instead of sticking to a strict schedule."
Swaddling your baby (if it's safe to do so), turning on a calming sound, offering your thumb or a pacifier, putting your baby in a body carrier, or simply rocking them are also ways to soothe them if they're fussy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Watching your baby be uncomfortable is never easy, especially if they're crying and/or requiring more of your time, attention, and patience than normal. But it's important to remember that while they are experiencing a lot of growth in a relatively short amount of time, that growth is not resulting in any physical pain. But, as always, trust your gut — if you think your baby is in pain, make an appointment for them to see a pediatrician or health care professional. They could be experiencing pain as a result of something other than the fact that they're growing out of their onesies at record speed.