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Cluster Feeding

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Definition:

Cluster feeding is a breastfeeding pattern displayed when a baby groups several feedings closer together at a certain point in the day. More often than not, cluster feedings occur in the evening hours during the baby's fussy period. During this time, the baby will demand to be fed several times over the course of a few hours. For the mother it may feel as if she is breastfeeding her baby so frequently that he is constantly hungry for period of a few hours.

Cluster feeding is more commonly seen in newborn babies, but in slightly older infants may cluster feed as well during a growth spurt. These bunch feedings serve the purpose of helping to build the mother's milk supply and of increasing the baby's daily calorie intake. As the baby ramps up his evening feedings, it may allow him to have a longer stretch of uninterrupted night time sleep.

Cluster feeding is completely normal. For moms who are concerned about whether her baby is getting enough milk, she can keep track of the number of wet diapers her baby has in 24 hours. If diaper counts drop, the mother should contact a pediatrician or a lactation consultant. There are many reasons that might cause a drop in wet diapers, such as not feeding often enough, an issue with low milk supply, or metabolic issues.

However, if the baby is gaining weight well and the feedings continue for a long period, it might be a good idea to consider if the baby's fussiness is the result of something else, such as colic, in which case interventions other than feeding could be considered.

Also Known As: Bunch feeding
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