Does your newborn baby seem to be hungry all the time? Have you got a fussy baby in your arms? If you answered yes both times, worry not! There might be nothing wrong with your baby. This is typical newborn behavior and you can find comfort in knowing that this too shall pass.
In this MomJunction article, we will be talking about cluster feeding and all the concerns associated with it. Make sure you stay with us till the end as we will be providing some helpful tips on managing cluster feeding and soothing a fussy baby. Now let’s get to the most basic question – how to identify cluster feeding?
What Is Cluster Feeding?
Cluster feeding is when a newborn starts feeding a lot more frequently for a period of time. It differs from their usual eating behavior and may last a few hours at a time (1).
Cluster feeding is typically seen in newborns, primarily breastfeeding babies in the first few weeks of their life. Cluster feeding can raise many concerns among mothers, however, it is normal newborn behavior and no cause for alarm.
What new moms need to understand is that just because your baby cluster feeds, it doesn’t mean that your baby’s health is in jeopardy or there’s something wrong with your milk supply.
Since most newborns don’t have a predictable eating pattern, it might be hard to recognize if your baby is actually cluster feeding. Here are a few signs that will help you identify cluster feeding (2):
- Your baby is a newborn, probably a few weeks old
- They are fussy and won’t stop crying until fed
- They have to be fed constantly or frequently for clusters of time
- They feel content after being fed
- They have normal bowel movements
Cluster feeding is most commonly seen in the evenings. But this may vary in the case of older infants. They may show cluster feeding behavior for days in a row or throughout an entire day. In such cases, it could be a result of teething or growth spurts.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has Colic?
Since both colic and cluster feeding has somewhat similar symptoms, it can be confusing to figure out what your baby is going through. Babies with colic may appear to be fussier in the evenings (3).
But if your baby appears to be calm and content after eating, then it’s highly unlikely that he/she has colic.
Colic is when a baby cries continuously for a minimum of 3 hours for 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks consecutively.
How To Manage Cluster Feeding
Even though cluster feeding is normal behavior, it can be taxing for the mother. Here are some ways to cope with it:
1. Change Breastfeeding Positions Frequently
Your body can become sore if you are sticking to a constant breastfeeding position. So make sure you change your position often and make yourself comfortable.
2. Keep Snacks And Water Handy
Breastfeeding for long hours can be tiring. Make sure to carry some snacks and a bottle of water to get you going.
3. Keep Yourself Entertained
If you are getting bored, set up breastfeeding in front of the TV or listen to some podcasts or radio shows.
4. Play Soothing Music
If your baby seems to be fussy, play a soothing song or sing a lullaby to calm them down. Try dimming the lights and blocking out any stimuli such as outside noises. Using white noise is another great way to soothe a fussy baby.
5. Prepare Ahead
Take care of your sore nipples. Use a nipple cream to moisturize your cracked nipples to continue breastfeeding with comfort.
Cluster feeding can be unpredictable as well as physically and emotionally exhausting for a new mom. Just follow our tips and know that this isn’t permanent.