When Does Cluster Feeding Stop? Here is the Only Thing You Need to Know
This may probably be the first time you have heard of cluster feeding, but certainly, you have already experienced it with your baby. Here’s how. Breastfeeding used to be my bonding time with my son when he was still a tiny little infant. He would usually have his feeding time every two to four hours.
However, there were days when his hunger was insatiable and feeding time became more frequent. I was initially bothered by this thinking that my son was not receiving an adequate amount of milk from me.
Good thing I have friends who are moms themselves to consult with. They told me that my baby had just undergone the so-called “cluster feeding.” The term was quite new to me at that time. But then I asked, “When does cluster feeding stop?” Here’s what I discovered.
What is Cluster Feeding?
Cluster feeding, otherwise known as bunch feeding, is a period when your little one would crave for frequent feedings within just a few hours gap. Is this normal? Certainly, it is. Cluster feeding usually happens during the early stages of breastfeeding. In particular, cluster feeding commonly becomes more apparent in the early evening or late afternoon.
What I noticed with my first born, he preferred feeding on breast milk for a few hours, and then sleep for a longer time. Some experts believe that cluster feeding can improve your milk supply. More often than not, cluster feeding corresponds with your little one’s fussiness. He will often breastfeed for a while, and then, cry, then, feed again, and then, fuss. That’s fine, and that’s normal.
Signs of Cluster Feeding:
- Shorter sleeping and resting time between feeding.
- Being fussy.
- Feeds on the breast and then pulls off, and then feeds again.
When Should Cluster Feeding Be a Concern?
Cluster feeding should be a matter of concern if the following situations are observed: The baby does not gain weight The baby does not poop or pee The baby seems unsettled even after feeding
Does Cluster Feeding Have Any Effect on Mothers?
Yes, cluster feeding may affect mothers. Your baby’s fussiness and frequent demands for milk feeding may give rise to emotional and physical stress. Some mothers I know feel frustrated and weary. Their baby’s frequent feedings make them feel frustrated for not being able to produce more milk.
What most mothers failed to realize is that they never run out of milk supply. Mothers may feel their milk is no longer enough to satisfy their little one’s hunger. The truth is, the mammary gland continues to produce the milk.
Why Do Babies Cluster Feed?
There are some theories or reasons behind infants’ cluster feeding. According to experts, cluster feeding happens because the mom’s prolactin levels decrease, thereby decreasing and slowing down the milk supply. When this happens, your little one becomes frustrated. Thus, he goes on and off during breastfeeding.
Another reason why babies cluster feed is because of their demand for attention and comfort. Because of this, experts suggest observing your baby’s behavior first before feeding him. Sometimes, they are not hungry at all and simply need to be pacified. Some babies cluster feed because they are most likely to be experiencing a growth spurt.
When Does Cluster Feeding Stop?
Cluster feeding is not here to stay for the long-term. I understand how exhausting and difficult it can be. But cluster feeding has an end. Cluster feeding begins when babies at six to eight weeks old and stop when they reach their third or fourth month. After this period, they will be still likely to cluster feed on an occasional basis because of the growth spurt that they will be undergoing during their development.
Strategies to Survive Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding can be daunting. But you can turn this situation around by following some of these strategies:
Do you feel you are running out of milk supply? Master breast compressions. How? It’s pretty simple. Just press down your breast as your little one sucks. This way, the milk is supplied quicker and more efficiently. Should you supplement? The answer is a big NO. When your baby is fussy, don’t think it is because you are not able to fulfill his needs. When he is fussy, just wait, and it will all soon come to pass.
Make cluster feeding a part of your daily routine. No matter how you plan to run away from it, your baby will still cluster feed. That is part of his development. Thinking of strolling at the park or having a picnic? Those won’t help either. Your baby will still cluster feed. So, just learn to embrace the process.
Consider cluster feeding as your relaxation time. This way, cluster feeding will no longer sound like a daunting task. Create some space for you and your baby to chill out. Get ready for your novels, movies, crochet, etc.
I was always excited when my little one cluster fed because it meant relaxation and hobby time for me. While he clusters fed, I tried to keep my hands busy as well. I engaged in reading parenting magazines, watching my favorite movies or shows, and a lot more.
Eat well and drink enough water. That’s true! You need lots of fruits and vegetables for your vitamins and minerals and water to fuel your day. In my case, I tried to maintain a well-balanced diet. I combined proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Most importantly, I made sure I ate in moderation.
Cluster feeding is normal and has an end. It requires a lot of patience to keep up with it. Embrace the entire process and enjoy cluster feeding time with your baby. And remember, as long as your child experiences growth spurts, he will still cluster feed. Personally, I miss those days when I just had to feed my baby and snuggle him.
When did your baby stop cluster feeding? What strategies did you apply to survive cluster feeding? Share your stories with us.