What is Cluster Feeding?
Cluster feeding is that type of feeding of babies in which the intervals between feeds are very short.
In other words, babies feed perhaps every 30 minutes for at least 2 hours, particularly in the evenings.
This type of cycle is understandably tedious, especially for first time moms. Adjusting to this upheaval can drive you crazy.
Newborns tend to become very hungry, so hungry that you start questioning just where they are putting your milk.
Mothers are advised to eat well since cluster feeding can prove to be extremely exhausting.
Why do Babies Cluster Feed?
Experts believe that cluster feeding is a natural phenomenon among babies while parents refer to it as normal behavior for infants.
In the case of babies, they cluster feed because it is what their bodies need. Newborns feed so regularly for a number of reasons and cluster feeding, while inconvenient and tiring for adults, is no cause for alarm when it comes to the health of your baby.
We’ll look now at a summary of the main reasons behind babies feeding in this seemingly greedy manner…
Reasons for Cluster Feedings
- Babies Need to Grow: As with babies in other species, humans also feed to live and grow. And this is the number one rationale for infants, especially newborns, requiring such regular feeding.
- Babies Need Cluster Feedings to Obtain More Sleep: Most infants get to sleep longer after being fed so this type of feeding has positive benefits.
- Babies Might Be Unwell: Babies feel the need to get closer to mom in times of discomfort and the best way to do that is to feed.
- Babies Are Still Hungry: Much of the time babies are really still hungry which is why they tend to feed all the more.
- Mom’s Milk Isn’t Satisfying Enough: Mothers with poor quality milk make babies crave for more feeding.
- Babies Want Attention: Babies cluster feed as their way of getting cuddled by mom.
- Babies’ Tummies Grow Bigger: As they grow, their stomachs also grow. If your baby’s stomach is not full then he won’t stop feeding.
- Important Note: Cluster feeding is beneficial for you by helping you to produce an increased milk supply. It’s your baby’s way of helping both of you through suckling.
Cluster Feeding at Night
This probably is the most common complaint any mother has, waking up in the middle of the night to baby’s cries and fussing because they need feeding. Try to sleep more during the day if you are unable to regain lost hours of sleep at night.
Do not try waking up your baby to feed so you can sleep whenever you want to. It doesn’t work that way. You will only end up being up almost the whole night with your baby crying nonstop because of an interrupted sleep. You won’t be able to pacify her with feeding if that’s what you’re thinking of so try to be strong.
When to Stop Cluster Feeding
When babies are in this phase, it is best to just let them be because this chapter will stop soon enough.
Studies suggest that at 6 months old, babies often tend to stop breast feeding. By this time they are fully grown (or at least bigger) infants and have learned how to regulate themselves. It is also around the time babies start to eat solid foods.
- Important Note: Never change to formula just to escape cluster feeding your baby unless you don’t have enough milk. Breast milk is always the best nutrient your baby can get.
What To Do
Cluster feeding can prove very tiresome for mothers, all the more so if it happens often during the night when you also naturally want to have a good sleep.
In order for you not to be drained and exhausted, sustain yourself by eating well, drinking lots and lots of water and trying to catch up on sleeping as your baby sleeps too.
Find a comfortable position for you to relax in while feeding as it takes a longer time when cluster feeding is taking place.
Relaxing music and nursery rhymes help. Pillows are also great to support your baby’s head and back as well as your arms while holding her.
- Important Note: Eat only nutritious foods because whatever you eat your baby will get through breast milk. No alcohol or colored drinks either. Only juices and water is the best two-pronged attack.
As mentioned above, babies are just undergoing a phase in their new lives outside their mother’s wombs. Cluster feeding is fairly normal and can be a positive experience for both the parent and child.
It might be frustrating and tasky for a few months but the cluster feeding stage will stop on its own.
That is the time babies start to develop teeth and begin to wean onto solid foods. So, if that time for cluster feeding to stop hasn’t arrived yet, it is best to enjoy this quality time with your little one because it is temporary. Maybe you will even miss cluster feeding your infant when that time occurs.
We hope that with this article we have helped you in our little way. If you have any queries, please feel free to ask away.