Having a newborn is so incredible! If you’ve had a baby, you know how many highs and lows this season comes with. No matter how special this stage of life is, you are likely exhausted, especially if you’re going through cluster feeding!
Cluster feeding happens when your baby nurses way more than usual- this is super common for breastfed babies. During these times, your baby will have several feedings super close together. You may also notice that they seem extra fussy. Cluster feedings often lead to exhausted mothers concerned that their baby isn’t getting enough milk. Good news- this is completely normal and nothing to be worried about! Today, I’m dedicating this post to everything you need to know about newborn cluster feeding at night.
Newborn Cluster Feeding At Night
Typically, babies cluster feed around three to six weeks after birth during the earlier stages of breastfeeding. It often occurs at nighttime or during growth spurts. If you’re currently struggling and wondering “How long does cluster feeding typically last?”, good news! Although the sleepless nights may feel like an eternity, it doesn’t last for long. Your baby’s cluster feeding sessions may happen sporadically, lasting for a few days at a time. They may demand to feed every 20 minutes to a couple of hours during the night. Cluster feeding may leave you feeling depleted, but it’s important to remember that your baby will outgrow this.
Despite how tiring cluster feeding can be, there are also many benefits. The additional nourishment will soothe your baby and promote better sleep while supporting their physical, mental, and emotional growth and development. It also helps to boost your milk supply to accommodate the needs of your rapidly growing newborn!
Why Do Newborns Cluster Feed At Night
Don’t worry- cluster feeding doesn’t mean that your baby isn’t getting enough milk. There are several reasons why your newborn may be going through this. The important thing to remember is that it’s completely normal. Here are some of the reasons why your newborn may be cluster feeding:
- Growth spurts
- Babies grow in what feels like the blink of an eye! You wake up one morning and realize that they’ve outgrown their clothes or hit a new milestone. When your baby starts going through a growth spurt, they require extra nutrients to support their development.
- Newborns may cluster feed when they need extra comfort and support- when you feed your baby, it provides a sense of security and soothing. The melatonin in breast milk aids your baby’s circadian rhythm and can help comfort them to sleep at night. They may be feeling overtired or overstimulated and need more attention. Additionally, they may be prone to contact naps during this time for extra soothing. I have a whole post on contact naps and how to transition out of them!
- Your baby is hitting many developmental milestones in their early months. Their hunger may increase as they’re undergoing these changes, causing them to cluster feed.
How To Deal With Newborn Cluster Feeding
Newborn cluster feeding can be exhausting, and there are a few ways that you can make the process easier on yourself.
Make your best effort to feed on schedule during the daytime so that your baby might feel fuller at nighttime and need less milk. They may still cluster feed, but it might help them to feel less hungry and fall asleep more easily!
Varying Breastfeeding Positions
Making sure that you’re comfortable is one of the best ways to ease the burden on yourself during this stage. Adjust your positions during cluster feeding to make sure that you feel as relaxed as possible.
Staying calm is key when it feels like all you’re doing is breastfeeding nonstop! Remember that this is a moment in time that will pass. Try your best to cherish these memories with your newborn and hang in there. As time goes on, your baby will cluster feed less and less- especially once you’ve introduced solids into their diet.
Getting as much help as you can
Take any help you can get from a partner or family! In your time of need, a home-cooked meal, cleaning, or childcare for any other kids in your household can go a long way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your loved ones when you feel like you need a hand.
Breastfeeding is hard work! The National Institute of Health estimates that breastfeeding mothers require an extra 450 to 500 calories per day. Make sure to drink lots of water and eat enough food to avoid depletion with extra breastfeeding. As you’re feeding your baby, remember how important it is for you to stay nourished too! If you are struggling to keep up with breastfeeding, supplementing with formula is an option. When you supplement with formula, it’s possible to lessen your milk supply- slowly incorporating it into your routine may help to keep your supply up. Always do what feels right for you!
Reduce stimulation for your baby by creating an environment that supports healthy sleep habits. Take them to a dark, quiet room in your house where they won’t be kept awake by outside factors. There are so many baby sleep products that can help with this! Sometimes it feels like fussiness and cluster feeding go hand in hand. Your baby’s nervous systems are extra prone to overstimulation- this can cause a fussy baby if their surroundings are too intense. Reducing stimulation may help your baby to feel less irritable and stop cluster feeding sooner. Check out my newborn sleep tips for more ideas on how to create an ideal sleep environment.
Soothing with sound/rhythmic motion
There are many ways to soothe your baby. Humming, talking, quietly singing, or using white noise can help calm your little one down so they can fall asleep faster. There are so many benefits of white noise for your baby’s sleeping habits!
I hope that these tips have been helpful! For more support, check out my newborn sleeping package. It includes a 30-minute consult call, my newborn sleep guide, and two 15-minute calls for customized guidance on how to get better sleep for your family.
As always, please feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions. In addition to my newborn sleep packages, I offer one-on-one sleep support if you’re struggling to get sleep. Better rest is ahead of you!