Cluster Feeding


Cluster Feeding is a breastfeeding pattern in which your baby requires short frequent feeds. It happens during the initial few months and resolves on its own. Learn how to handle cluster feeding.


What is Cluster feeding?

Cluster feeding is quite a normal behavior in babies and it is a normal part of their development. It is more common in the late afternoon or in the evening and tends to happen anytime of the day. It lasts for a couple of hours at a time and it is quite different from the regular eating behavior.

During cluster feeding, your baby may prefer to have more frequent short feeds and then have a long stretch of sleep. Though the exact reason for this behavior is unclear, it is one way to boost a mother’s milk supply in the initial weeks. Your child is also letting you know in the initial weeks on how much milk she requires so that you can plan and work accordingly.

Signs of cluster feeding

It is difficult to identify this behavior as newborns don’t follow a routine sleeping or eating schedule like adults. However if you notice the following signs, your baby is more likely to have a pattern of cluster feeding.

·         When your baby is few weeks or days old

·         Exhibits usual signs of hunger and stops crying only after feeding

·         Want to eat frequently for short sessions

·         No other complaints and show signs of content after feeding

·         No “colic” symptoms (when your baby is colic, she cries uncontrollably for hours together)

Benefits of Cluster Feeding

·         You and your baby can have long stretches of sleep

·         Your child gets lots of nourishment in a short period of time and will have a healthy weight gain.

·         As you regularly feed, your milk production is enhanced.

·         Frequent feeding helps prevent neonatal jaundice.

·         Cluster feeding could be a way to store up food for the night.

·         It increases skin to skin contact which strengthens the bond between the mother and baby.

How does a mother feel during cluster feeding?

Cluster feeding can make a mother physically exhausted, emotionally drained and frustrated. Some mothers feel they are not able to make adequate milk for her little one and will be perplexed whether to continue breastfeeding. They will have an impression that their breasts are empty. But that is not true. There is always milk in the breasts. Remember this is to boost your milk supply and you can overcome it if you learn to plan and handle your baby’s fussiness during this time.     

How to handle cluster feeding?

One thing to know is to accept that cluster feeding is normal and it is a temporary phase in your child’s life. You have to explore your own ways to make the feeding sessions interesting and stress free. The following things can be tried.

·         It is good to follow your baby’s lead and feed according to their needs.

·         Be happy and content seeing your baby sleeping and settled after a fussy evening.

·         Always take naps whenever your baby is sleeping so that you can be relaxed during the feeding time.

·         Always drink plenty of water and have proper meals

·         Try changing the breastfeeding positions often so that you don’t get sore.

·         Take the support from your partner and family members.

·         If you feel you are unable to provide sufficient milk, seek the help of a lactation consultant and a maternal child health nurse.

Outlook

After all your efforts and attempt to provide the right amount of feed to your baby, make sure that your child is gaining age appropriate weight gain, is providing the required number of wet nappies and is settling with content and happiness after the fussy sessions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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