Cluster Feeding: What to Expect and What Causes It?

Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings

It is commonly asked by nursing parents, especially first-timers, what is Cluster feeding? In this informative guide we have explained to simplify the concept of cluster feeding.

How to Manage Cluster Feeding How to Do it Right?

If you are a new mum, the term cluster feeding may be relatively new to you, especially if you have got a baby that sleeps almost all the time, then the mention of cluster feeding may be totally strange as you may not have experienced it with your baby. But even if you get to that point, you must realize that there is perhaps nothing to worry about cluster feeding your baby.

A few parents are lucky because they have babies who at an early age sleeps all day. So they may even ask why moms complain of not having enough time to sleep, and that’s because their baby sleeps, and so they too can afford to sleep. Still, they eventually get to experience this other side of new babies sooner than they would have wished for, and at this point, they start wondering what is wrong.

There is a tinge of good news, and there may be nothing wrong with him or her; they may be cluster feeding.

Cluster Feeding : Definition

Uniquely, as the name implies, it is just a series of feeding in a row as some babies require more milk now and then; hence, every feeding can take anything from a few minutes to an hour. However, when babies cry for more milk just after a breastfeeding session, mums get worried and wonder in amazement if they can produce enough milk for their babies.

It is a matter of concern, but it should not be blown out of proportion because the baby is hungry, and cluster feeding is perhaps what he needs at that moment.

Why Cluster Feed a Baby?

When a baby is born, their stomach is usually not bigger than a walnut; hence, they feed as often as possible; however, with time, their stomach ultimately expands rapidly just as they also grow rapidly outwardly. Hence, some may wonder if their stomach is large enough to contain more food, they should feed less often. Uniquely, that is not the case.

It is stark open that babies are small people, and as obvious as that may be, we must also realize that they too have instincts just like every one of us; hence, they tend to sleep more in the evening after attaining a certain age and as they prepare themselves for this stretch of sleep they instinctively have a tendency to prepare for that by filling their stomach with as much breast milk as possible to stock up nutrient for the lengthy sleep they require.

So if you have been wondering why your baby or babies cluster feeds between evening and early hours of the night, it is because they are preparing to go to sleep; hence, they are stockpiling all the nutrients that should probably see them through the night even though that is necessarily not the norm with all babies.

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Again, there is another unique reason babies cluster feed, and it is when they experience growth spurts. We must understand that beyond being little, babies too are humans and so they also undergo a growth process and uniquely, children tend to grow more between the ages of 12 and 17, which is when they generally evolve from kids to teens and if you ask their parents about their eating habits. 

You will learn that they are eating more, barely get satisfied, and tend to get something to eat in-between meals as well as ask for more food all the time, except they are ill.  It is not abnormal when the body craves more food when it is undergoing fast food because, at that point, it needs more calories to maintain all the functions of the body.

How Long Does this Growth Phase Last?

According to some researchers, it is one of the longest phases in human growth, and it usually starts when the baby is about two weeks old and can continue till he is four months old or may extend beyond that. It is important to note that kids are different, and their development is unique to each child; hence, they all do not develop at the same pace.

That’s quite challenging, but it is part of childhood, and both parents will need to be involved with raising the kids at this time. Dad may not be able to do much in terms of feeding or nursing the baby but giving mum his ubiquitous support is interestingly essential and will mean a lot to mum and child.

Because if she is tired, overworked, or overburdened, the tendency is not to produce enough milk to satisfy the baby’s needs, and this is where daddy can step up and be of help by doing a little chore here and there as well as massaging mum’s tired and overworked body.

Will Mum Run Out Of Milk If She Cluster Feed, The Baby?

A mother’s body is particularly spontaneous and will undoubtedly adjust to the demands her baby burdens her with. However, it is medically wise to take in more liquid so the baby doesn’t stress her out with his insatiable need for breast milk to keep producing milk and give in to her baby’s demand all the time.

More often than not, new mums all tend to believe that the baby is cluster feeding because he isn’t getting enough milk or that breast-milk is not satisfying him or her, and at that point, they are lured to supplement breastfeeding with formula. But it is important to note that however a rich formula may be, it does not have the same nutritive value as breast-milk, and some formulas also drive the wrong signal to the baby’s body. 

A mum may wonder why she produces less milk as soon as she starts supplementing her feeding with formula; well, it is obvious enough to state that the sole reason is that you breast-feed your baby less. The body instinctively produces less milk because it has registered that the mum is giving out less milk, and before she knows it, she would have run dry of breast milk and then will need to feed the baby solely with formula milk.

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Generally, new mums should all know that if they stay healthy and minimize the level of stress they go through, they should always produce sufficient milk for the baby irrespective of how much they crave breastfeeding. It is also interesting to note that milk supply is based on demand and supply; hence, the more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk is supplied, and the less you breastfeed, the less milk is supplied.

Tips for New Mums

Anticipate Your Baby’s Desire

This is one important factor not to get wearied by constant breastfeeding because if you don’t anticipate, you may get inundated by his or her desire to suck all the time.  Although this is generally difficult for new mums because as first-time mums, they don’t understand all the signs the baby gives but with time, they should, and when they do, it will be better for them and their babies.

Let your Baby Decide How Long to Breastfeed Him

We must also state that some babies get to cluster feed because their mum doesn’t get to feed them well enough when they do; hence, they are almost hungry all the time because they get just a little breast milk during feeding sessions.

One way to deal with cluster feeding is to feed the baby well enough; though that may not be enough to stop the baby from cluster feeding, it will go some way to increase the hours’ in-between meals. As part of our responsibility to mankind, we duly recommend that mums allow their baby to decide the length of each feeding session, let them be the ones to stop feeding.

Mums must also do well to understand that it is not all kids that stop feeding during a feeding session that is satisfied, some babies are just small or weak eaters, and they tend to get tired easily, but mums must step up and insist that the baby eats even when he chooses not to.


Another important tip from us to new mums is the recommendation for them to relax before and after breastfeeding their babies, and when the baby gives you room to sleep, then you must get enough sleep as possible because how much rest you get determines the load of stress you get as well.

Eat & Drink More

At this point, new mums must endeavor to eat as much as possible so they can be able to sustain breastfeeding their babies, and they should also endeavor to get enough fluid as possible. The meals you eat have a way to trigger milk flow; hence, it is important that you look after what you eat as you attempt to meet your little one breast milk demand.

Generally, new mums should all know that if they stay healthy and minimize the level of stress they go through, they should always produce sufficient milk for the baby irrespective of how much they crave breastfeeding. It is also interesting to note that milk supply is based on demand and supply; hence, the more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk is supplied, and the less you breastfeed, the less milk is supplied.

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