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WHY IS MY BABY CLUSTER FEEDING? – ALL THE ANSWERS
When a baby eats very frequently it is called cluster feeding. Many new moms worry that frequent feeding means that their baby is not getting enough to eat. It is a terrible feeling, worrying that your baby is not getting enough to eat. I get asked by moms all the time, “Why is my baby cluster feeding?”
There are different reasons for those times when it can be hard to distinguish between when one feeding ends and the next begins.
Keep reading to find out why your baby might be cluster feeding.
CLUSTER FEEDING ALL NIGHT
A common conversation I have with a mom after the second night with her baby starts like this: “Why is my baby cluster feeding all night long? He must not be getting enough from me.”
She is usually reassured when I reply, “Most babies cluster feed their second night. It is normal and healthy behavior. Your baby is trying to do his part to bring your milk in and create an abundant milk supply.”
One lactation consultant described it as, “He is just putting in his order.”
Cluster feeding can occur at any time in the early days after a baby is born, but it almost certainly will happen the second night.
Cluster feeding the second night is so common that we have a name for it. We call it second-night syndrome.
If I have the opportunity to talk to a new mom before the second night then I will prepare her for it. I encourage an afternoon nap.
WHEN TO EXPECT CLUSTER FEEDING
After the milk comes in cluster feeding is still common and normal.
Your baby will continue to have periods when they cluster feed even after your milk comes in.
It will look a little different than that second night.
Cluster feeding usually occurs for two to four hours. It often happens in the late afternoon or early evening. It has been called the witching hour.
Since babies can’t tell time, it can happen at any time of the day. It may happen a couple of times a day.
CLUSTER FEEDING AND GROWTH SPURTS
There will usually be cluster feeding when a baby goes through a growth spurt. Those feeding sessions can last all day long.
As a baby gets older a growth spurt can last several days.
Try to remember that most cluster feeding is normal.
WHEN YOU SHOULD WORRY ABOUT FREQUENT FEEDING
There are times when frequent feeding is a red flag that something should be looked at a little more closely.
- It is constant
- It is all day
- It lasts for days
I have talked to moms who told me their baby was eating constantly and when they wrote down the feedings it turned out to be a very average every two to three hours. Other times it really was every half hour.
A tally counter is a quick easy way of counting daily feedings. Having several allows you to put them everywhere you breastfeed, your bed, the living room, in your purse.
WHEN WILL CLUSTER FEEDING STOP?
As long as their are growth spurts there is cluster feeding. Even teen agers will go through times when they always seem to be hungry.
But the typical newborn cluster feeding, that witching hour type of behavior, that usually stops by the time your baby is three months old.
WHEN TO WORRY ABOUT CLUSTER FEEDING
It is possible that a baby is not able to get enough milk out or mom has a low milk supply.
If you are worried about how often your baby is breastfeeding you should call a lactation consultant. She’ll be able to help you determine if there is any cause for concern.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT CLUSTER FEEDING
Cluster feeding is a common behavior by babies. I hope I have provided you with some reassurance about this behavior of bouts of frequent feeding. I also hope you have information when you might want to investigate it a little further.