Sometimes you might swear your child grew an inch overnight. Children hit several growth spurts throughout their early years, and there are often definite signs that your child is actively getting taller. One such indication is an increase in sleep. If your child is suddenly very tired and sleeping more than usual, he might be going through a growth spurt. On the other hand, some kids have trouble sleeping when they are growing.
Each child grows at her own rate, so you might notice your child in the midst of a growth spurt when a friend isn't. Kids during the preschool or early grade school years might suddenly go through a growth spurt. All children go through a growth spurt during the onset of puberty, between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and 11 and 15 for boys, according to the Kids Health website. An increase in sleep needs or sudden difficulty sleeping are common during these times.
Signs of a Growth Spurt
If your child is suddenly sleeping later, falling asleep at school or in the car or wants to head to bed earlier than normal, she might be having a growth spurt. However, the need for extra sleep also occurs after a busy couple of weeks, at the start of the sports season or after staying up too late on vacation. Other signs of a growth spurt often accompany more sleep. Your child might be cranky or get upset more easily and is likely to experience an increase in appetite, according to the Baby Center website. For some kids, growing produces pains that can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep.
If your child wakes up at night complaining of pain, particularly in his legs, chances are he has growing pains. In most kids, growing pains appear in the evening and go away by morning, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic. The pain usually crops up in the calves or behind the knees. Growing pains can often wake your child up at night, which means he might have trouble sleeping during a growth spurt. There isn't a cure for growing pains, and they are likely to wax and wane during the growing years.
What Parents Can Do
When your child wants to sleep more, it's best to allow it when possible. If you're having trouble getting your child up in the morning, scale her bedtime back 30 to 60 minutes to give her the extra sleep her growing body needs. On the weekend, allow her to sleep in or take a nap if she asks. As her growth spurt declines, chances are she'll be back to her old sleeping habits. In the case of growing pains that interfere with sleep, you can help her stay comfortable for better rest. The Mayo Clinic website suggests gently massaging your child's legs or having her rest them on a heating pad when she goes to bed. Over-the-counter pain medications can help alleviate pain so your child can sleep.