Children frequently oscillate between being happy and being fussy. However, most mothers react to a slight change in their baby’s behavior as they can’t really understand the cause of this change. Cluster feeding in new born babies and infants is a very commonly seen phenomenon. But what exactly is it?
What Is Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding is when babies start feeding multiple times in an hour with successive intervals, and they usually fuss in-between feedings. This feeding pattern is not seen throughout the day but during some parts of the day, mostly evenings. Most commonly, babies who exhibit cluster feeding do so between the evening hours of 6PM to 10PM and then sleep for a relatively long duration afterward. Experts believe that cluster feeding is a natural phenomena designed to boost the milk production in mothers as it is directly related to demand of milk by babies.
When Do Babies Start Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding is usually observed in young infants who undergo a growth spurt in the initial few months of their life. So it is highly likely for babies between the ages of 2-6 months to have cluster feeding pattern in the evenings. Babies tend to cry or fuss a lot during this phase and can be systematically soothed by regular feeding.
Causes Of Cluster Feeding
Infant cluster feeding is a natural phenomenon and can be caused due to various reasons, such as –
Growth spurt in babies:
During the early months, as your baby’s stomach size grows, and she needs more milk to support her physical and mental growth. Therefore, by consuming extra amount of milk in the evenings, your baby is likely learning to consume and utilize more calories.
Immature nervous system:
Babies also fuss a lot during cluster feeding as many things seem new to them except for the practice of feeding. This only familiar activity thus soothes them.
Lesser milk supply during evenings:
Babies at times get frustrated with lesser or slower milk flow during evenings. However, this repetitive demand of milk in the evenings enables the mother to produce more milk in subsequent days.
Some experts also believe that newborn cluster feeding at night could be a sign of your baby hoarding up calories for a long night’s sleep. But babies who cluster feed in the evenings may also wake up repeatedly at night.
How To Handle Cluster Feeding
By knowing how long cluster feeding lasts, you can derive the primary motivation of handling this behavior in your infant. Most babies cluster feed only for 3-4 months in their first year and gradually adapt to better feeding and sleeping habits. Thus, as a mother, you must learn to treat this as a passing phase and develop strategies to remain sane while your baby is fussing away. Here are some ways to handle cluster feeding –
Drink water at regular intervals as milk production and feeding can leave you quite dehydrated.
Maintain a good diet:
To be able to produce enough milk for your baby, you must maintain a healthy diet for yourself. Preferably, eat before your baby starts her cluster feeding.
Don’t supplement your baby’s feed:
If you are not already bottle feeding your baby, cluster feeding is not a time to panic and start supplementing. Your body will learn to produce more milk and satisfy your baby’s needs soon enough.
Don’t wait for your baby to get cranky and cry for food. As soon as your baby starts fussing, start feeding her and pre-plan the activity so that you are not frustrated when it happens.
Get your hubby or mom/mom-in-law to help you by bringing you water, food and anything else you need while you feed your baby.
Finally, to handle cluster feeding successfully, make sure that you get sufficient sleep and remain positive throughout this phase. Read books, watch movies and entertain yourself on your phone while your baby feeds contently. But make it a point to take a nap whenever your bundle of joy is sleeping.