Cluster Feeding [Newborn] 7 Tips to Survive Fussy Evenings

Cluster Feeding [Newborn] 7 Tips to Survive Fussy Evenings

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.

What Is Cluster Feeding?

What does it mean when a baby cluster feeds? Cluster feeding (also known as bunch feeding) is when babies bunch feeds close together at certain times of the day.

Although 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 (often from 6 to 10 PM).

Cluster feeding is most common in the late afternoon and in the evening, although may differ between babies (1,2). Why do babies cluster feed at night? Your baby is filling up or stocking up on calories before sleeping for longer periods at night. 

This can be challenging for mothers, so hopefully, these cluster feeding tips will help make these feeding times a little less stressful.

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When To Expect Cluster Feeding (Ages)? 

When should you expect cluster feeding to happen? Cluster feeding is very common in young babies under 9 months. It is likely to start sooner than you think. Even during the first days after getting home from the hospital.

However, some mothers notice cluster feeding returns with older babies who are approaching a growth spurt or developmental leap (Wonder Week).

Cluster Feeding At Night In Newborns Is Normal And Natural

It can be frustrating with a cluster feeding newborn.

Your newborn can be fussy at night because of hunger, but it can also have no particular reason…

Yours and your baby’s sleep can be interrupted from that reason.

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 you’re not producing enough milk to satisfy your baby, or you’re unable to soothe your fussy baby.

But don’t worry, cluster feeding is completely normal. Over time it will get easier. Baby will start sleeping better.

Most babies will cluster feed during the early months. It’s not a reflection of low milk supply.

partner and baby

Why Do Babies Cluster Feed?

The exact reasons why cluster feeding happens are unknown. However, experts assume cluster feeding is a way babies boost breastmilk production during growth spurts. 

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.

Babies also need more nutrition to support developmental changes such as rolling, crawling or talking.  

Every person is different, that’s why it is hard to specify how long cluster feeding will last for you.

Cluster feeding may be natures way of kick-starting this process.

Some experts believe babies cluster feed at night 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 long stretch of sleep following an evening of cluster feeds.

How many days does clustering feeding last? Typically a growth spurt lasts between 2-3 days, so you can be reassured you won’t be stuck on the couch cluster feeding forever. 

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. Breastfeeding every hour can be frustrating. 

However, cluster feeding is nature’s way of increasing milk supply.

mom and a newborn happy

What About Supplementing With Formula?

If you supplement with a cluster feeding formula, your body won’t receive the cluster feeding cues that your baby needs more milk (3)

As a result, your body will make less milk, due to the reduced demand.

Soon enough, you’ll find 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 infant 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.

 Tips: How To Cope with Cluster Feeding (Don’t Try To Top It)

Here are our 7 cluster feeding tips to help make feeding times a little more relaxing.

Tip #1 – Acceptance

Babies usually develop a cluster feeding routine.

You may find that between 6 and 10 PM every evening, you’re 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 and baby doesn’t want to sleep.

Tips #2 – Stay Hydrated

Pink Stork Lactation Tea

Producing breast milk is a thirsty business.

You may find yourself particularly parched during periods of cluster feeding, when all of a sudden breastfeeding becomes an unpleasant duty.

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 breastfeeding.

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.

Tip #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, smartphone, TV remotes and DVD box sets nearby to keep you entertained.

Tip #4 – Eat First

If you know your baby is going to start cluster feeding at 6 PM, 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!

cookies for mom while breastfeeding

Tip #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 (4).

A willing volunteer to get you snacks, drinks and provide entertaining conversations to keep you amused during cluster feeds.

Tip #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.

Tip #7 – Take Out!

Baby Wrap

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).

Recommended Reading:

*This article contains affiliate links to quality products we recommend. Rest assured, it won’t cost you extra. It just means we may be paid a commission if you decide to buy something. BellyBelly would never link to products we wouldn’t use ourselves. We appreciate your support purchasing items via these affiliate links.


  1. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health
  2. MDedge
  3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  4. Journal of Human Lactation
  • 2.1K


Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.


  1. My oldest son was like this. Exactly like clock work, his cluster feeding was between 10 pm and 2 am though, so we adapted to cosleeping.

  2. Does this apply to bottle fed babies or just cluster feeding in breast fed babies as my 5wk old does this from 6-10 every evening and he is bottle fed???

  3. This article makes me feel so much better. Baby has been cluster feeding from 10 pm to around 3 am every night. Very trying mentally. Thank you for posting.

  4. Do babies that cluster feed sleep/or like nap on you for about 20-30 minutes between each feed, or doze off and then want more during the cluster feeding time and if you put them in bed like normal they wont sleep and demand more feeding and are really grizzly and pull off the breast but always want to go back on? I’m not sure if my son is cluster feeding during 6am-1130am…Thanks

      1. My baby does. She likes to nap for a little while next to my breast and then wake and latch back on. I’ve wondered if its cluster feeding, or she just nurses herself to sleep, while still being hungry which wakes her? I’m unsure, but fortunately for me, its not in the middle of the night.

        1. Our daughter tends to cluster feed after 6pm to 11pm or as late as 2am. We try are hardest to let her sleep if she has been awake more than 90 minutes. Sometimes we think her fussiness is compounded by being tired as well and the longer the cluster feed goes without a good nap (at least 15 minutes) the more fussy she gets. After 2am if she is still fussy it’s last stop measure, the car seat comes out and I take her for a drive so mom can get some sleep and usually within 10 minutes of driving so does our daughter. If she is more fussy and takes longer than 10 minutes to settle I might give her 30 minutes before coming home otherwise 15 minutes of quietness in the car and I come home. If she sleeps in the car seat at home that’s fine but as soon as she fusses I take her out and try to settle her for a sleep in a vibrating bouncy chair (she didn’t take to the bassinet, yet). She usually sleeps about 5 hours after the cluster feed.

        2. My baby is exactly the same way. Half the time im no even sure i hear swallowing but will get so mad and act like a hungry bear if i try to do anything else.

          1. This makes me feel a little better. My son is 3 days old and he is cluster feeding between 10pm and 2am and he gets so mad and angry. I literally broke down and cried from extreme lack of sleep and feeling like a failure.

    1. I feel the same way. My 6 day old son cluster feeds forever and does the purple scream if I try to detach him from me!!

      1. oh my
        God I totally know how you feel about the purple!!! Lol my wee girl is the same especially if the milk doesn’t come RIGHT NOW!!

    2. Same mines starts before midnight till about 7 or 8 am . i am hot ass crying mess in between those hours . i try to put her down in her crib and she’ll flip out and ask for more

  5. My 2 week old cluster feeds from about 5-11/12 in the evening. It’s not easy because I could barely put my 3 yr old to sleep. How long will this last?

    1. I am in the exact same boat. It starts around 5/6pm and goes on till 10pm, and I have a 3 year old as well who goes down at 7pm. Sometimes my husband is not home at this time so it is so challenging!! I have a solly and a moby wrap I’ve just learned how to nurse her in the last couple days. It doesn’t keep me completely hands free, but one hand is usually free and then it’s just a lot of coaching my son on doing things. I feel so bad for him because sometimes my patience wears thin when she is crying and it feels like it’s taking him forever to do anything.

      How have you been coping with the cluster feeding?

  6. Thank god for this article. I’ve been up crying in fustration most of the night due to not getting any sleep from cluster feeding! Typically its from 11pm till about 4-5am

    1. Oh I hear you. We’ve been going since 2am.. I’m exhausted. It’s now 5.30am… Not sure how much of good mum I will be to my 7yr old today…

      1. I’m the same way! Cluster feeds during the night when I’m already so exhausted physically and mentally. I can’t stop crying…I feel like I’m drowning, but it’s comforting to know that is is normal.

  7. My son is 2 days old. First night he fed 10-6 and last night 12-10am. This seems like huge periods of time to me. I could cope if it was 3-4 hrs but this is ridiculous?! Feeling emotional!!

    1. I feel for you mines goes up till 12- 8 am . she is5 days old. Its pretty ridiculous didnt experience this with my first cause we co slept but now i have SO living with us and hes a crazy sleeper

  8. My 6 day old baby cluster feeds from 1 or 2am too 5am or 6am
    I’m shattered and I just sit cry because he’s screaming. he feeds 2 hour during the day as well

  9. Thanks so much for this head-saving read! My baby is 5 days old and we had all sorts of drama with him not producing dirty nappies on day 3 and losing 10% of his body weight. We had to turn to formula until my milk came through which was devastating and made me feel inadequate as a mother. My milk finally came in on day 5 and baby gained a lot of weight. Such a relief. Until that evening when he had been feeding perfectly at 3 hour intervals all day and at 8pm he decided he was going to scream blue murder unless I fed him constantly. I was exhausted by midnight and my hubby suggested giving him formula which I denied saying I know my milk is good and it’s not the problem (though I didn’t know this and was started to feel like a failure AGAIN)! Luckily he went down not long after that without the formula! Thank goodness 🙂

  10. 3 day old is cluster feeding from 1-6am, i think. I cant believe how much she is eating! She is worth it thou.

  11. Aahhh… relieved by readind this article… thank you so much for this information… it was really very irritating to cluster feed my 2 months old… now i’ll pre plan my activities and will work on the suggestions given above

  12. My 6 week old is doing this between around 6pm and 10pm…. Then I take him to bed with me and he falls asleep on the breast the in my arm then wakes a few hours later for another munch…. He is my 4th and truly acceptance is key…. If you keep fighting it you will just loose it…I keep a rocker in the lounge room so I can grab a few minutes here and there for cooking and tending to my other kids and maybe a shower and toilet break if I’m lucky!….hang in there, it’s not forever 😉

  13. My newborn does his from 6:30pm to around 2am I’m exhausted also having a two year old. But I have managed to do with out formula even though I have a tin ready to go. Its tough but stick to it.

  14. Thank you, after reading this I don’t feel like a failure. My 2 week old has seriously been feeding allllllll day. For the last 2 days. I haven’t gotten a chance to do anything but feed her.

  15. Really helpful post I have 6 day old twins who feed regularly aNd settle well all day. My little boy cluster feeds from about 2.00am to 6.00am I thought I was slowly loosing my mind, this will help my sanity tonight.

  16. My munchkin was 6 weeks old yesterday. Today, he has done nothing but eat, fall asleep for 10-15 minutes, wake up screaming/starving, and we do it all over again. I can’t imagine how there’s anything left in my boobs for him to eat, he’s been latched so long today! Suggestions for getting through this quickly? I need my happy baby back.

  17. My 3wk old son has been cluster feeding for 3days so far (hourly, lasting at least 40mins). But it’s during the day till night ~11am-10pm. I’m hoping it passes soon!

  18. My baby is cluster feeding and its for at least 5 hours but not at the same time every day. It’s only like 16 hours apart from start to start. She still eats at least every 3 hours in between too. Idk what to do

  19. My 6 week old baby gets active from 11 pm till 3 am. How do I get him to sleep at around 12 or 12.30 even? I’m losing sanity….

  20. This article brings so much comfort. I have a 9 week old who cluster feeds from around 6pm to 11pm. Just when I think I’ve finally got her settled in the bassinet, she will wake up hungry about ten minutes later. It’s emotionally and physically draining and you do second guess yourself as a mum – am I overfeeding, am I under feeding, do I not know how to settle or comfort my baby properly? The only way I’ve kept my sanity (just) is to try as best as possible to squeeze in a nap during the day and for those short minutes she is in her bassinet between feeds, to lie down and just breathe!

    1. I literally feel the same I’m like a zombie ‍♀️ most the night then in the day I try to nap only to be woken up 5 minutes so sometimes I settle for just calling deep breaths I’m exhausted to say the least.

  21. This seems to be going on with my daughter & her baby. HOWEVER, it is NOT just a few hours in the evening!!! It is 17 hours/day with VERY little down time. I think the baby is just accustomed to being held & doesn’t know how to comfort himself yet. If he is awake, he wants to be nursing ……… if he is tired & wants to sleep, he wants to be nursing. So basically, he has become spoiled & is unable to be put down and just lie comfortably until sleep takes over. My daughter is going to end up in a hospital from exhaustion before the next month is over. Any tips??? Oh, and lastly, I can’t try to help her because if I say anything, she thinks I’m criticizing her mothering skills.

  22. This makes me feel SOO much better. My one week old goes bananas from 10-2 am every night! She also fights me to latch on but once she does then just passes out asleep….I start to get nervous every night as the sun is setting because I know what’s ahead for the night. Glad I’m not the only one going through this. Hang in there mamas, we can do this.

  23. Thank you for this article. I thought my boobs were milk dry. One thing I am wondering is about mommy breaks during the cluster feeding period. I have a great husband who will take her for a little while during the feeds to give me a break. He does his best to calm her while i relax. How long can these breaks be? Is it prolonging the cluster feeding periods? I did do the mistake of formula supplementing since I got so desperate. Is it too late to take that back?? Ugh FTM here to a 4 day old.

  24. i think my little man is also doing this for the past day or so, he is 12 days old but if he feeds to much he is bringing the milk back up and sometimes its quite alot and it seems to be in the middle of the night when i think he is settled, im just worried he then doesnt have enough milk in his tummy. im also scared to keep feeding him incase he just brings it all back up again. when he has been sick he has fed between 1-2 hours every 15 mins then has a little break then feeds again. is this normal? sorry FTM here. I just want to do everything right by him.

  25. If you are really getting exhausted, why not pump a couple of bottles, store in the refrigerator, and let the father get up at least once in the night and bottle feed the baby breast milk? That would allow you to at least get a little sleep. Then next go round, you can nurse as usual. By the time my babies were about 2 months old, they were all sleeping through the night, sometimes 10-12 hours a night.

  26. Oh my goodness, this article has made me feel so much better, I had never heard of cluster feeding before & I have 2 other children. I honestly thought I was doing something wrong with this one, if anything I feel lucky after reading this as my baby whos 3 weeks only seems 2 cluster feed between 4pm-10pm & I have a very helpfull partner who cooks & helps sort kids out while I’m sat with a baby attached 2 my boob all night (& it gets me out of evening chores 😉 lol ) I just need a bell now.

  27. So glad I read this. My 3 week old is currently cluster feeding. I was up most of the night and he is back at it this morning. I have a 2 year old also who I can’t attend to properly during these times. I don’t remember her ever cluster feeding, so this is new and frustrating to me. My husband keeps telling me I’m not filling him up enough, so it’s good to know my milk is not the issue…he has no problem producing wet and dirty diapers. I’ve been getting very frustrated with the baby during these times, so it’s also helpful to know I’m not the only one with these feelings.

  28. My now 4 week old baby is cluster feeding. Usually in the evening ( at about 17.00 until 21.00 ) but sometimes also during the day. I do not breastfeed, I give her formula. She will drink a little, fall asleep for 5 minutes or 10, then again drink a little and so on. Now that I know what it is, I feel a bit more comfortable, and know that it will get better and easier at some point. I do want to ask some advice. How do you all go places with your baby? I don’t dare to go visit friends or family, I don’t dare to take her to the supermarket, I don’t dare to take her anywhere. Because I’m so unsure that once I arrive somewhere, she will start crying and need to drink, and I’m not able to get back home for hours, or be stuck somewhere near a supermarket in the car trying to feed her. Do you all just stay at home with your baby 24/7. Or are you all brave enough to take your baby places, and just go with the flow?

  29. Our Baby is 2 weeks old. Seems to cluster feed quite a bit – usually starts in the evening around 7 or 8 pm and lasts sometimes up until 3am. It has been very tiring, but my wife and I are trying to stay positively motivated. We find it helps if she sits and relaxes by the TV with baby on her lap on nursing pillow. When baby gets fussy – mom can feed right away so he doesn’t get too frantic prior to latching. As husband, I make sure mom has lots of water and food and is comfortable, that’s about all I can do. It was nice to see other posts similar to our situation. Makes us feel normal. Apart from the cluster feeding, our baby feeds and sleeps like clockwork (every 3 hours). My message to moms and dads – hang in there, cluster feedings are a normal and healthy part of looking after a newborn. The lack of sleep just sucks! Just, hang in there. You can do it. Regards, M

  30. Is it possible that a 4 month old baby does this?
    He started doing this a week ago (my son is a preemie, born 1 month earlier).
    It starts with pulling off the breast and sucking restlessly with some crying at cca 7pm.
    If we manage to put him to sleep or put him after he falls asleep at the breast in his crib, he often wakes up 10 mins after that, we try to calm him down but I eventually end up nursing him again after everything fails. Then before falling asleep he finally sucks calmly but the whole procedure of putting to bed/crying/nursing (4 times usually) takes 3 hours or longer…

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