Do Toddlers Sleep More When Growing? And Other Questions About Toddler Growth Spurts

Do Toddlers Sleep More When Growing? And Other Questions About Toddler Growth Spurts - Header Image

Key Points

  • Toddlers going through a growth spurt are likely to feel extra sleepy and need additional naps or longer sleep times.
  • Other common signs of a growth spurt include increased hunger, night-time leg pain, clumsiness, and clinginess.
  • Bring your child's bedtime forward and allow for extra naps during a growth spurt.
  • Activities to keep your child physically and mentally busy can help ease them through a period of rapid growth.
  • Growth spurts are short-lived and it won't take long before your toddler is back to their usual temperament and routine.

Everything changes once your baby starts moving around on their own. Not only is your once-stationary child now busy exploring the world (and keeping you on your toes!), they're also entering their toddler years. If you thought your baby grew a lot during their first year, be prepared for toddlerhood and the rapid growth spurts that come with it.

Do toddlers sleep more when growing? They sure do, infact research shows that extra sleep can indicate a growth spurt with an approximate likelihood of 40%. Extra sleepiness is just one of the many physical and behavioural changes you'll notice in your toddler during a growth spurt.

Why Sleepiness Goes Hand In Hand With Extra Growth

If your toddler is sleeping more than usual, you may be wondering - do toddlers sleep more when growing? The answer is a resounding yes - and there's a very good reason why.

Individual-level analyses identified that saltatory growth in body length was significantly associated with increases in both total daily sleep hours as well as the number of sleep bouts

It takes a lot of work for a little body to grow and change so much in such a short time. All this energy expenditure can understandably leave your toddler feeling extra sleepy, which can either translate to longer sleeps, more frequent naps, or – worst-case scenario - extra grumpiness.

Toddler in a grumpy mood

To ward off the grumpiness, make it as easy as possible for your toddler to get the sleep they so desperately need. Bring their bedtime forward as much as possible, let them sleep in in the mornings, and set the scene with a quiet video, car drive, or relaxing activity to encourage extra naps.

Other Common Signs Of A Toddler Growth Spurt

You now know to look out for extra sleepiness as a sign of a toddler growth spurt, but what else should you be on the lookout for? All children are different, but the following factors are fairly common among toddlers all around the world as they navigate one growth spurt after another.

Hunger

Even the fussiest eater may temporarily turn into a food-eating machine during a growth spurt. Hungriness and a tendency to eat everything in sight is a sign that your child's body is crying out for extra nutrition to fuel all that growing, so it's important to keep the food coming, and even more important to ensure you're offering healthy options during this time.

Concentrate on protein and fibre, and don't let your child fill up on sugary drinks at the expense of healthy meals. Remember to bring plenty of pre-prepared snacks with you every time you leave the house so you're not tempted to splurge on snacks filled with empty calories.

Growing Pains

Growing pains are a controversial area. While some doctors remain convinced that growth spurts can cause muscles and bones to ache - particularly in the legs - there is no actual medical evidence that proves this to be true.

Toddler in over sized Shoes

Perhaps more likely is that growing muscles are more likely to spasm or feel tight following a lot of physical activity.

If your child is going through a growth spurt and was particularly active during the day, they may wake up during the night complaining of sore, aching, or spasming legs. Such pains should be short-lived and respond well to massage, gentle stretches, and warm compresses. Pains lasting longer than 24 hours should be seen by a doctor.

Clumsiness

Toddlers tend to be clumsy in general as they navigate the world while still learning depth perception and understanding how to take control of their bodies.

A child undergoing a growth spurt is likely to be extra clumsy as they once again learn how to control their extra-longer arms and legs.

Imagine wearing high platform shoes for the first time and notice how the world would look and feel slightly different from your new height - this is the same sort of feeling your child is experiencing during a period of rapid growth.

Clinginess

Extra clinginess from even your most independent toddler can be another clear sign of a growth spurt. There are several reasons why a child may need extra reassurance or attention from their caregivers during a growth spurt.

Growing pains can be exhausting and even scary for little bodies, requiring extra comfort. Alternatively, hormonal changes that take place during a growth spurt can leave your little one feeling out of sorts.

Regardless of the reason, toddlers need to feel loved and cared for during a growth spurt - after which they'll go back to their usual independent selves.

Average Growth During The Toddler Years

Between One And Two Years Of Age

Your baby's second year of life marks the time when they transition from baby to toddler. Most will lose their baby face and chubby features as they turn into taller, leaner toddlers.

While they won't grow as quickly as they did in-utero or during their first twelve months, growth will still be significant and noticeable.

Expect your toddler to gain between 2 and 2.5 kilograms in weight and between 10 and 12 centimetres in height between ages one and two.

Between Two And Three Years Of Age

The third year of life is when toddlers typically start to tackle the next wave of gross motor skills, including running, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking a ball, and using a balance bike or tricycle.

During ages two and three, your toddler will gain between 1.5 and 2 kilograms in weight and between 5 and 8 centimetres in height.

Supporting Your Toddler Through A Growth Spurt

Early Bedtimes

How can you encourage your toddler to get the extra sleep they so desperately need during a growth spurt? The easiest way is to bring your toddler's bedtime forward as much as possible .

You may feel reluctant to send your child to bed early, fearing that an early bedtime will make it harder for them to fall asleep.

In fact, the opposite is true. Studies have shown that the later children go to bed, the longer it takes them to fall asleep, and the earlier they will wake in the morning .

Another study on childhood sleep proved something parents have long understood - sleep is vital for brain health .

When your child sleeps, everything they learned throughout the day is solidified and stored away for long-term use.

Healthy Fats

We've discussed the importance of offering plenty of healthy snacks filled with fibre and protein during a growth spurt. Just as important is to include healthy fats in your toddler's diet, in addition to iron and Omega 3s. Look to avocados, bananas, fruit smoothies, nut butter, beans, and flax seeds in porridge.

Engage The Body

Possibly the easiest way to avoid crankiness and encourage the extra sleep your toddler needs during a growth spurt is to give them plenty of opportunities to exercise and move their major muscle groups - preferably outdoors in the fresh air if the weather allows.

Engage The Mind

Growth spurts don't just affect your child's body, it affects their mind too. Many parents have found that focusing on engaging your child's mind with sensory or intellectual activities can help ease your child through a growth spurt and ward off crankiness.

Indoor activities like drawing, painting, playing with slime, and building with blocks or construction toys are always winners, while outdoor activities like playing in a sandpit or with a water table can keep little minds busy for hours.

For quiet times, enjoying books, stories, and puzzles together will engage your child and provide some much-needed comfort.

Do toddlers sleep more when growing? Yes, and that's not all you'll notice during a toddler growth spurt. From sleepiness to a sometimes insatiable hunger, growing pains, moodiness, and clinginess - growth spurts are a difficult time for your little one.

There are plenty of ways to support them during times of growth, but the most important is to be patient, loving, and considerate. Remember that growth spurt phases are just that - phases - and will be over before you know it.

Be gentle with yourself and your little one during a growth spurt - then restock the closet with larger clothes and get ready for the next one!

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