Everything you need to know about growth spurt in your baby
A tiny seed can grow into a big, majestic tree only with the proper care. Your baby is just like the seed, requiring good nutrition and a caring environment. The first 2 years of your baby lays a foundation for a good brain, immune and digestive health.1 Nature knows the best, breast milk which is a dominant source of food for your baby has many vitamins, minerals and a unique fibre. This fibre helps your baby achieve many growth and developmental milestones. Let us learn more about this fibre.
Developments during the growth spurt in brief.
The time your baby is in your womb to their 2nd birthday is when there is a major growth spurt. Your baby’s major organs such as their brain, immune system, digestive organs like tummy, even their body develops during this time. So much so, this period is called the window of opportunity.2 We will look at each of them briefly
Figure 1: The tree of development. This image shows the growth and development happening in the first 1000 days of a baby’s life 3
Physical growth: Every day your baby seems to be growing taller and able to achieve many tasks. That is because your baby typically grows about 10 inches (25 cms) during the first year, and by 5 years, they are already double in length than what they were at birth! Such is the miracle of growth that your baby doubles his/her weight by 5 months and by 1 year they are 3x their birth weight. 3
Brain: From crying, to babbling to finally expressing themselves with words and action; your baby undergoes quite a journey. This is indicative of their brain development. The foundations for all this – memory, listening, speaking and even eye development is laid during this growth spurt.4
Immune system: Did you know, only by 8 years your baby’s immunity is as strong as an adult! Until then, their tender immune system is being trained by the food and the environment. All the important steps for a strong immune system is laid down until your child’s 2nd birthday.5
Tummy health: This is where it gets interesting. Apart from sensory organs, your baby’s body systems meet the outside world in the tummy. Here your baby gets exposed to both good and bad bacteria. The first 2 years are an important time to decide whether good or the bad bacteria increase in number. We all know, good bacteria are really good for your baby’s growth.2
Food that is rich in fibre helps to increase the numbers of good bacteria in your baby’s tummy. Not just any fibre, but the one present in breast milk called prebiotic human milk oligosaccharides (oh-lee-go-sack-a-rides) or HMOs. Once in the tummy, only the good bacteria can ferment it and hence increase in number.
The Good Gang: Good fibre and good bacteria.
Prebiotic HMOs are ABUNDANT in breast milk. If breast milk had a nutrition label, prebiotic HMOs would come 3rd (after milk sugar and milk fat).6 Prebiotics HMOs are not like one single ingredient – there are more than 1000 of them. But among the thousands of prebiotic HMOs, 2’-Fucosyllactose or 2’-FL is the most common one.7 This means it is present in almost every mother’s milk.
Higher levels of good bacteria due to prebiotic HMOs means your baby is free from infections, their tummy is problem free, he/she is happy and sleeps well. The overall effect is that your baby & their organs grow well! Isnt that what every parent wishes?
So you know, breastfeeding is the best for your baby. Always check with your paediatrician to understand how you could optimize nutrition for your baby during the growth spurt.
- UNICEF. First 1000 Days the critical WinDoW to ensure that babyren survive anD thrive. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/southafrica/media/551/file/ZAF-First-1000-days-brief-2017.pdf. Accessed on: 05 October 2022.
- Robertson RC, Manges AR, Finlay BB, et al. The Human Microbiome and Baby Growth - First 1000 Days and Beyond. Trends Microbiol. 2019;27(2):131-147.
- MSD Manual. Physical growth of infants and children. Available from: https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-in/home/children-s-health-issues/growth-and-development/physical-growth-of-infants-and-children. Accessed on: 20 November 2022
- Schwarzenberg SJ, Georgieff MK; COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION. Advocacy for improving nutrition in the first 1000 days to support babyhood development and adult health. Pediatrics. 2018;141(2):e20173716. (p4)
- Martin R, Nauta A.J, Amor KB. et al. Early life: gut microbiota and immune development in infancy. Beneficial Microbes. December 2010; 1(4): 367-382.
- Milani C, Duranti S, Bottacini F, et al. The First Microbial Colonizers of the Human Gut: Composition, Activities, and Health Implications of the Infant Gut Microbiota. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2017;81(4):e00036-17.
- Reverri EJ, Devitt AA, Kajzer JA, et al. Review of the Clinical Experiences of Feeding Infants Formula Containing the Human Milk Oligosaccharide 2'-Fucosyllactose. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1346.