The term ‘cluster feeding’ refers to an infant feeding pattern whereby babies want to be fed every half hour to hour, as opposed to being fed once over a number of hours. It’s an interesting phenomenon that presents in some babies but not in others. Fortunately, with the help of a qualified and highly experienced maternity nurse you will quickly know if your own baby is expecting cluster feeding – they tend to be extremely fussy and will cry out for a meal almost continuously.
Of course, it can be difficult to ascertain your baby’s exact needs as infants typically become irritable in the morning and evening. Some are prone to calling for bottle or breast simply as a comforter, which, in turn, can trigger a pattern of cluster feeding. Suffice to say, it can be a difficult scenario for parents to cope with and one that can turn disturbed nights into sleepless nights.
But don’t panic yet. The good news is that there are some distinct advantages to cluster feeding. Call it a hidden silver lining in what seems to be a rather gloomy-looking cloud.
The Advantages of Cluster Feeding
Although cluster feeding habits may involve a lengthy period of unrest, after the
you may be kept awake for longer, you’re then much more likely to be blessed with a far longer period of rest than you would be with normal feeding patterns.
If you’re extremely fortunate, your child’s cluster feeding habits may occur during the early evening. If this happens then a full night’s undisturbed sleep may well be coming your way. As we all know, this is something of a Holy Grail for new parents but crazier things have happened. In all such cases, however, cluster feeding habits are temporary in nature and tend to disappear as quickly as they came.
How to Handle Cluster Feeding
In terms of coping with cluster feeding, perhaps the most obvious and ideal solution is to hire a private maternity nurse or nanny to physically help out with the ups and downs of being a new parent. Even if it’s simply a case of having a professional on hand to offer reassuring advice and guidance as and when needed, it’s a good idea to have at least someone to reach out to on-demand.
During baby’s cluster feeding period, the very best advice is to simply accept it as it is and try your best to plan your days around his/her habits. Instead of simply getting infuriated that your days from 8pm to 3am appear to be a non-stop frenzy of feedings, think about changing up your own schedule a little to allow for this temporary inconvenience.
Last but not least, chances are your patience will wear thin pretty quickly when encountering cluster feeding for the first time, so be sure to share the responsibility equally. Be it breast or bottle, be sure to have a good supply on standby for your partner or really anyone else you can count on to help lighten the load by taking over 50% of the feedings – essential for the sake of both your physical health and your sanity!
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Disclosure: This is a collaborative post