Your baby probably slept more than he did eat in the first few weeks as a newborn, but as he grows bigger he'll need more nutrients and calories, meaning he will start to feed a lot more than normal.
Cluster feeding can be a pretty exhausting time, as you might feel like you're doing nothing but feeding. But don't worry, here's everything you need to know about cluster feeding and how to manage it!
What is cluster feeding?
Cluster feeding is when your baby feeds more, often every 20 minutes, and often more frequently in-between his normal feeding times. As your baby grows, he'll need more nutrients, so cluster feeding is his way of getting those nutrients and calories as his appetite increases.
It's important to remember that when your baby starts to cluster feed, that there is nothing wrong with your milk supply and your baby isn't getting enough milk on his first feed. His instincts know that the more often he feeds, the more milk will be produced.
If you find you're struggling with feeding, remember to consult your GP or Health Visitor.
Many researchers are still unsure as to why babies cluster feed. Most importantly, although cluster feeding can be hard, it's a totally normal developmental stage in your babies early stages.
Accoring to Sioned Hilton, registered International Certified Lactation Consultant, cluster feeding is a way for mum to bond with her baby.
'It is often thought of as nature’s way of encouraging baby to have close baby to mum cuddles, stimulate tomorrow’s milk supply, that in turn boosts feeding hormones.
'Cluster feeding can also coincide with growth spurts (typically around 3 weeks and 3 months). Even if you have established a routine based on your baby’s demands, you may still find that he has periods of cluster feeding, particularly if he is unwell or needs reassurance.'
How to manage cluster feeding
Cluster feeding is completely normal and it's important to remember to just relax and follow your baby's lead. Ways you can help deal with cluster feeding are:
If you're breastfeeding, try expressing inbetween feeds to keep up your milk supply.
Drink plenty of water and eat well.
Let your family and partner support you when they can.
Keep yourself entertained during feeds with your favourite boxsets or podcasts.
Try and change positions when you can to avoid getting sore and uncomfortable.
Many mums are often also concerned that cluster feeding means their milk supply is low, but this is usually not the case. Your doctor or midwife will easily be able to tell if your baby isn't getting enough milk from their weight, so if you do have concerns about milk supply, speak to your midwife.
Mother&Baby is the UK's number one pregnancy, baby and toddler magazine, and for over 60 years we have brought you the latest information and trusted advice from a huge range of experts. Our mum journalists work closely with our medical panel of midwives, doctors, paediatricians, child development specialists, parenting experts and many other field specialists to ensure the educational content you find here is up-to-date with the latest evidence-based medical information and accepted health guidelines.
Lorna is the digital executive and regular contributor for Mother&Baby. After running the Yours magazine website which specialises in content about caring for kids and grandchildren, she has now brought her expertise to the UK's #1 leading pregnancy and parenting magazine. Lorna specialises on a range of topics from potty training and nutrition, to everything and anything that will keep your tot occupied!
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