An experienced parent knows that a baby eating more than usual, sleeping more than usual, fussing more than usual usually means a growth spurt. Most babies follow a similar pattern: 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months mark large periods of growth. During this time a baby nurses for hours on end, many mothers incorrectly assume they don’t have a large enough milk supply for their baby. Many mothers unwittingly supplement. A baby nursing even after the breast is empty will be okay. They’ll feed more frequently, they’ll feed longer, they’ll increase the milk supply just by nursing more. It might take a day or two, but Mama’s body will catch up and baby will thrive and grow – without ever needing supplementation.
It sounds easy enough. Baby wants to nurse, let baby nurse. Baby wants to sleep, let baby sleep, baby needs extra cuddles, then cuddle your sweet baby.
But what about older children? What signs mark periods of growth after baby is walking and talking? Unfortunately, even though they have so much experience with it, children don’t automatically realize they’re growing. In fact they seldom know until one day they grab something that was a foot out of reach the day before.
Parents don’t usually realize their children are growing either, until they buy new clothes. The clothes come home from the store, slightly big. Daddy removes the tags, by nightfall the clothes don’t fit.
There are other clues that our children are growing. Some sweeter than others. At all ages and stages of growth children tend to eat and sleep more while they’re growing. But they also tend to upset more easily.
Recently we’ve been faced with a houseful of growing girls. One day the girls sang in harmony. The next day they insisted no one sing at all.
We see little girls that push each other, bite, kick, or hit more often. They have a more difficult time talking things through with each other. A little stumble creates giant tears, that last for hours. If one girl wants something, the other wants the opposite. No food is the right food, something we don’t have is always the preferred choice.
For us other signs of growing include:
loss of coordination, more likely to stumble
hand wringing or shaking
refusing to sleep
burping (think of the sound Gollum makes)
Chewing (on fingers, clothes, anything in reach)
Mostly we ignore the tics while they pass, but we also try to help the girls cope with them. We provide chew toys when needed, straws for drinking, bikes to ride rather than walking, a trampoline to bounce on, soft cushions to crash on. And most importantly we try to offer patience and love. These will pass, and they’ll pass faster if we offer support, rather than consequences.