Cluster feeding (also known as bunch feeding) is a typical process that occurs in almost all babies. It is defined as a time when your newborn wants a lot of short feeds for a few hours. This is quite normal and happens in the early days of breastfeeding your baby.
Though it can happen at any time of the day, it usually occurs either in the late evenings or the early hours of the day.
Before jumping to the conclusion that there is something wrong with your milk supply, it is not anything like that. Though cluster feeding can have you thinking second thoughts about your milk production or even making you feel unconfident – it has nothing to do with your nursing or mothering abilities.
Causes of Cluster Feeding and How Long Does it Last?
There are not many causes of cluster feeding as it appears as a typical occurrence in babies. However, the major ones are growth spurts and constant development.
Simply put, growth spurts are a cycle of time in which your baby has a colossal or intense period of growth. During this time frame, babies want to be fed frequently, can change their sleep patterns or become fussier than usual.
As for constant development, babies grow and achieve new developmental milestones pretty quickly in the first six months. When such mental and physical changes start to take place, babies need more nutrition and attention.
Unfortunately, cluster feeding sessions are quite draining emotionally and physically for moms. However, they don’t last for more than a few days or (maximum) for a week. Since cluster feeding occurs in phases, not much can be said about its exact timing.
Signs of Cluster Feeding
As mentioned above, you’ll likely notice some behavioral changes in your little one that give clear signs of a growth spurt happening. Nevertheless, it will be best to know about some of the signs that instantly give it away that your baby is going through these development processes.
The signs are stated and discussed below are:
- Your little one is having a lot of dirty and wet diapers.
- Your little one is gaining weight.
- Your little one is cranky and fussy at this time.
- Your little one takes short naps between the nursing sessions.
- Your little one feeds for a bit of time and then pulls away.
- Your little one is frequently hungry.
Thus, if your baby suddenly wants to be fed more and wants to be nursed 24/7, you might want to brace yourself for a cluster feeding regime!
Tips for Cluster Feeding
We shall be sharing and discussing some crucial tips of cluster feeding and how you can ensure that you go through this phase without much to worry about.
1. Feel Relaxed and Comfortable
If you wish to make this time a peaceful one, it would be best to feel relaxed and follow your baby’s instincts. For example, while feeding the baby, get in a comfortable position and rock back and forth a little.
You can also sing and hum a few tunes or songs to feel good and ensure the baby gets the vibe. Increase your skin-ship by keeping a hand on your baby’s head and looking at them lovingly. Don’t forget to change your positions as well as the baby may get bored being in the same position.
2. Find a Partner
It would be an excellent idea to find a partner while breastfeeding your little one. Now this person can be anyone. It can either be your mom, your other half, or your best friend.
You’ll sense the time flying by even quicker once you chat and eat with your partner. You can plan out various activities that stretch at least for 3 to 4 hours. Having such a fun time will help you lift your mood as well.
3. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Since you’ll be feeding the baby straight for a few hours, it is evident that you’ll feel thirsty, and your mouth is bound to be dry. Therefore, you must be drinking plenty of water while you feed your baby.
Even aside from these sessions, keep yourself hydrated to avoid any complications. It is advisable to keep a jug of water near you at all times.
4. Tone Down The Stimulation
What we mean by toning down the stimulation is that you must take your baby to a dark room where it is quiet. Once you do that, you should keep them close to make them feel secure and comfortable within your arms.
By doing this, your baby will be able to go to sleep pretty easily. You can also set a routine for your baby and its feeding sessions. Yet, you shouldn’t take it overboard and ensure that it is flexible enough to cater for any unexpected issues.
5. Don’t Wait For The Water-Works
Being a mom, let alone going through that process, is quite tricky. Hence you must always be on the lookout and shouldn’t sit around – waiting for your baby to cry. Try to decode your baby’s hunger cues.
We do realize that figuring out those hunger cues might be challenging. But the good news is that babies tend to form a routine; thus, you’ll easily be able to know when your baby is hungry and when you must feed.
6. Take Care Of Yourself
Cluster feeding can be problematic and frustrating. Take it easy, hang in there and take short breaks to recollect yourself. If your baby has drifted off to sleep or you have been looking after for a good amount of time, then you can put your little one in a crib and go for a walk. You can also ask your partner to take over when the baby isn’t whining too much or asking for food.
Take long, warm showers, reconnect with something you love, sleep, read books and be at peace with yourself as well. Keep a balance within your activities and try not to feel too burdened or suffocated.
Remember! Managing cluster feeding can result in a bit of a challenge, but rest assured that your milk supply is moulded according to your baby’s needs. Follow the tips written and discussed within the article alongside some talking to your doctor, and you’re good to go!
Try to face changes such as cluster feeding with a positive outlook and use it as an opportunity to bond with your little one even stronger.