Breastfeeding creates irrevocable bond between the baby and mom. Breastfeeding provides emotional security and comfort to your baby and also gives all the nutrition your baby needs for development and growth.
So, don’t be surprised if your baby asks for more of your time. Many moms wonder if this habit of frequent nursing demands from the little one is typical or odd. This behaviour is also referred to as cluster feeding and you may notice the demands growing during the night along with fussy cries.
We have tackled the issue of fussy babies at nights and cluster feeding for you to be rest assured.
What Does Cluster Feeding Mean?
Cluster feeding is when the frequency of your baby’s nursing demands is quite closely packed, especially during a certain period of the day. Cluster feeding often occurs during the night or in late afternoons.
Cluster feeding is characterised by the following signs (in same order mostly)
- Baby asking for frequent feed (may be every half an hour from last feed)
- Feeding for short periods (5 – 10 minutes)
- Coming off your breast just like that and then nursing a little more
- Fussing around, making clucking sounds and nursing some more
- Once you put the baby down, cries for more milk
- Needs to feel the breast constantly at her mouth, irrespective of feeding or not
Cluster feeding is most common in new-borns, between weeks to 4 months. However, older babies who experience growth spurt or have tummy ache may also show signs of cluster feeding.
Remember that feeding, playing and sleeping on the lap are babies’ way of feeling secured and getting in to the comfort zone. Don’t restrain it!
Don’t Worry About Your Milk Supply
As a mother, you are as good as a cow. Jokes apart, a mother’s body is very much aware of the baby’s need. Don’t worry about producing enough milk for the baby or not. The best way to maintain a healthy supply of milk would be nursing, and pumping milk quite often.
Although, cluster feeding may be a tedious and back breaking process, know that, it is the only source of nutrition the baby gets until he starts taking solids. Once the baby starts with solids, he or she will nurse less and for less time.
What Does Fussy Babies at Night Mean?
Most moms have experienced this – playful, content and restful toddler during the day, and just as dinner time hits, the baby suddenly turns fidgety, fussy, crying and inconsolable. She would not want to nurse, neither sleep nor want to lie down.
Fussiness and cluster feeding often take place together in most babies. Although, the reason for fussy babies during night is still not clear, some of the ideas that has been put forth are;
- Immature Nervous System – New born babies are not completely developed. Your baby was in a peaceful state inside the womb, without any hocus-pocus of the real world. So all the stresses of stimuli during the day make the baby anxious and restless by night fall and hence, the baby repels the emotion by crying.
The best you can do is snuggling the baby very close to you and nursing him/her whenever they cry. Carry them along and move away from all stress giving stimuli like bright light, loud noises, chaotic room and too many people hovering over the baby.
- Over Exhausted Baby –Truth be told, it’s not an easy feat to be a cute little baby who is constantly being cuddled, carried and lifted. If your baby hasn’t napped well during the day or has been aroused several times due to stresses of stimuli, towards the end of the day, he/she may get exhausted and out of tiredness, become fussy.
The best bet is to comfort them as much as you can. Unlike adults, they don’t know to calm down by themselves. They completely rely on your snuggling, your touch and relaxation techniques so that they can drift in to a peaceful slumber.
How Can You Soothe Your Baby When Fussy During Cluster Feeding Period?
It is a series of events that can finally calm your little one down when cluster feeding coincide with fussy nights. Here are some soothing techniques you can follow;
- Rock your baby. Move around. Sway. Motion can calm your baby at times
- Hum or sing softly. White noise is also a good way to soothe anxiety
- Wrap your baby and hold her /him against your chest
- Reduce external simulation by taking your baby to a quiet and dark room
- Swaddle them