Cluster Feeding Tips
This article full of cluster feeding tips has been written to help new mothers cope with the exhausting days when baby wants to cluster feed.
Cluster feeding is when babies bunch feeds close together at certain times of the day.
Though they may leave a couple of hours between feeds most of the day, there will usually be a few hours of constant or close together feeds.
Cluster feeding is most common in the evening, although may differ between babies.
This can be challenging for mothers, so hopefully these cluster feeding tips will help make these feeding times a little less stressful.
Cluster feeding is very common in young babies.
However, some mothers notice cluster feeding returns with older babies who are approaching a growth spurt or developmental leap (Wonder Week).
Cluster Feeding Is Normal And Natural
It can be frustrating with a cluster feeding newborn.
You are undoubtedly exhausted, and probably emotional from all the postnatal hormones whirring around in your body.
On top of that, cluster feeding can feel never ending, and babies are often fussy during periods of cluster feeding.
Pulling off the breast, crying and general fussiness can all add to your frustration.
It can also make you feel like a failure.
You may worry that you’re not producing enough milk to satisfy your baby, or that you are unable to soothe your fussy baby.
But don’t worry, cluster feeding is completely normal.
Most babies will cluster feed during the early months. It’s not a reflection of low milk supply.
Why Does Cluster Feeding Happen?
The exact reasons for cluster feeding are unknown.
However, experts assume cluster feeding is a way babies boost breastmilk production.
Your baby’s stomach grows rapidly during the first few months of life, and your body must produce more milk to meet the increased demand.
Cluster feeding may be natures way of kick-starting this process.
Some experts believe babies cluster feed in the evenings, because they’re filling up on milk before a big sleep.
Although it’s unlikely your baby will sleep through the night during these first few months, you may notice a longer stretch of sleep following an evening of cluster feeds.
Concerns About Low Milk Supply
Cluster feeding is not a reflection of low milk supply. Cluster feeding is not a reflection of low milk supply.
I said it twice in case you didn’t believe me the first time.
Got a mother-in-law pressuring you to give the baby a bottle, and a partner wondering why the baby is always hungry?
It’s natural to start doubting yourself.
However, cluster feeding is nature’s way of increasing milk supply.
What About Supplementing With Formula?
If you supplement with formula, your body will not receive the cluster feeding cues that your baby needs more milk.
As a result, your body will make less milk, due to the reduced demand.
Soon enough, you’ll find that you’re not producing enough milk to feed your growing baby.
The prophecy comes true, and you continue supplementing.
Perhaps you might end up feeling bad about ‘failing at breastfeeding’, when you haven’t.
If your baby is producing a good amount of wet and dirty nappies, it’s unlikely you have a breast milk supply problem.
It’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with the reliable signs that your baby is getting enough milk.
Cluster Feeding Tips – How To Cope
Here are our 7 cluster feeding tips to help make feeding times a little more relaxing.
Cluster Feeding Tips #1 – Acceptance
Babies usually develop a cluster feeding routine.
You may find that between 6 and 10pm every evening, you are feeding the baby.
Once you know this, you can accept it and plan your evening around it.
That way you won’t feel frustrated that your plans have gone awry.
Cluster Feeding Tips #2 – Stay Hydrated
Producing breast milk is thirsty business.
You may find yourself particularly parched during periods of cluster feeding.
Make sure you have a big glass of water (even better with a slice of lemon!) next to you when you sit down to start feeding.
Or perhaps you might like a nice warm cup of lactation tea.
There are teas you can buy especially for breastfeeding, to help support milk supply. Herbal teas also help to keep you hydrated.
Another great option is electrolytes. Not those sugar-loaded sports drinks, but a quality electrolyte from a health food store.
Cluster Feeding Tips #3 – Get Comfy
If you know you’re going to be stuck somewhere for four hours, make sure you’re comfortable.
Whether you’re snuggled up in bed, or propped up on the sofa, make sure you have your books, magazines, smart phone, TV remotes and DVD box sets nearby to keep you entertained.
Cluster Feeding Tips #4 – Eat First
If you know baby is going to start cluster feeding at 6pm, make sure you’ve eaten before then.
There’s nothing worse than sitting hungrily while your baby slowly enjoys their three course meal.
Hopefully you have a stash of BellyBelly’s delicious lactation cookies within your reach, at least!
Cluster Feeding Tips #5 – Get A Breastfeeding Partner!
Can you just get me a…? You’ve heard of a birth partner, now you need a breastfeeding partner too.
A willing volunteer to get you snacks, drinks and provide entertaining conversations to keep you amused during cluster feeds.
Cluster Feeding Tips #6 – Look For Hunger Cues
If you tend to have a fussy, hungry and irritable baby in the evenings, act accordingly.
Instead of waiting for the crying to start (which is a late hunger signal), look out for hunger cues and offer the breast immediately.
Cluster Feeding Tips #7 – Take Out!
By using a sling or wrap, you can feed your baby on the go.
While feeding your baby in a sling, you keep your hands free to get on with other things.
Slings also help to keep fussy babies content, because they feel safe and happy being close to you.
This KeaBabies Wrap Carrier (pictured) is a best seller on Amazon.
The wrap is made from a premium quality breathable cotton spandex blend, to keep you and your baby safe and comfortable.
Hopefully you found our cluster feeding tips really helpful! If you’re struggling with cluster feeding or are worried about your baby, speak to an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) or the Australian Breastfeeding Association (La Leche League in the US).
- 3 Reasons Why Your Baby Needs To Feed So Often
- Low Milk Supply? Increase Breastmilk Supply With These Great Tips
- Is My Baby Hungry? Do I Have Enough Milk?
- Not Enough Milk? Concerned About Your Milk Supply?
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