Cluster feeding occurs when feedings are bunched together closely. Instead of feeding every few hours, baby may want to nurse more frequently (every 30 mins to an hour).

If you have a newborn, you know that they need to feed frequently in the early months. On average, a nursing baby will feed 8-12 times per day! Feedings won’t always happen on a consistent schedule of every 3-4 hours. During some parts of the day, baby may want to be fed more frequently. This is called “cluster feeding.”

  • Cluster feeding is when a baby nurses more frequently, often in the evening or during growth spurts.
  • It’s a normal part of a baby’s development and doesn’t indicate a lack of milk supply.
  • Cluster feeding helps meet the baby’s increased demand for milk and can actually boost the mother’s milk supply.

Mother feeding baby from bottle

Is cluster feeding typical?

Yes, cluster feeding is a typical part of baby’s development. It doesn’t mean baby isn’t getting enough milk, so don’t worry!

Cluster feeding usually happens:

  • In the evening.
  • When baby is going through a growth spurt.

Be in tune with baby’s hunger cues to see when baby wants to nurse.

Why does cluster feeding happen?

Cluster feeding is baby’s way of filling up on milk when they need it!

  • In the evening, baby is preparing for a longer night of sleep. They may eat more frequently so they can fill up before going to sleep (isn’t it amazing how they plan that out?!).
  • During a growth spurt, baby will want to nurse longer and more frequently because their growing body demands it.

When can I expect growth spurts?

Every baby is different, and growth spurts depend on many different factors. If baby was born premature, their growth may also look different.

But typically, when baby is nursing in the first year, there may be growth spurts around:

  • 2-3 weeks
  • 6 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 6 months

Will there be enough breastmilk to feed baby during growth spurts?

During cluster feeding (and especially during growth spurts), it may feel like all baby wants to do is eat! Amazingly, baby’s increased demands for breastmilk actually help increase the mother’s breastmilk supply in order to provide enough to meet baby’s needs. If you run into issues with this, talk to a healthcare provider or lactation specialist.

Cluster feeding infographic

Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

Baby’s increased demands for breastmilk can be exhausting for parents! Whether you’re a breastfeeding mother or a parent needing to feed baby more frequently by bottle, it can take a toll. Reach out to your partner or other family to help during this time to make cluster feeding more manageable.

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