Cluster Feeding Q & A

Emily Blewett, RN, BSN, CLC, Mom, NICU Nurse, Moms on Call Consultant, and Certified Lactation Counselor discusses what feedings typically look like by age and the term “cluster feeding” that we often hear as parents of little ones.

What Do Feedings Look Like the First Two Weeks With Your Baby?

  • We recommend to feed on demand to establish breastfeeding and your supply.
  • Feedings typically take 30-45 minutes while you and your baby are learning how to latch and feed effectively.

Once Baby Is Two Weeks Old and Older, How Often and How Long Should Feedings Be?

  • Once babies are two weeks old, healthy and pass birth weight, we recommend beginning a consistent feeding and sleeping routine because babies thrive on predictability.
  • You can begin the Moms on Call Schedule based on your baby’s age.
    • With our schedules, we focus on feeding effectively during the day, so your baby can focus on sleeping efficiently at night.
  • At this age, feedings are about 30 minutes in length and continue to decrease as baby gets older and more efficient at feedings.
  • In the Moms on Call Basic Baby Care 0-6 Months Book, you can find a cheat sheet for how long feedings typically take and the average intake from a bottle based on your baby’s age.

What Is a ”Cluster Feeding”?

  • It often describes “snacks” offered throughout the day and night.
  • Most often it used when babies are fussy or going through a growth spurt. The issue is, it can cause a cycle of not getting a full feed, then not resting well, hungry sooner, too tired to eat great, eats a little, etc.
  • These small feeds can cause more gas as the digestive system ramps up and can hinder them getting those full feedings in.

Why Do “Cluster Feeds” Cause More Gas?

  • Every time the baby eats, their stomach contents produce acidity and digestive juices.
  • The more often they eat, the more often the digestive issues, including the acidity are produced, which can increase gassiness and fussiness.
  • Plus if they are only snacking then they will be hungry sooner, which can lead to shorter periods of sleep and an overtired baby.
  • With the Moms on Call Schedule, it makes early digestion as easy and natural as possible by feeding on a more predictable feeding routine. It works with the way the body is designed.
    • Bulk feeding
    • Digest
    • Rest
    • Reset
    • Repeat
  • The schedule allows the baby to get better rest times in as well so they will have enough energy to eat well because feeding is like an aerobic exercise for babies.
  • In the NICU, all babies eat every 3 hours and we keep feedings to under 30 minutes, so the babies can have enough energy to get those full feedings in and have time to rest and grow.

Are You Afraid a Schedule Will Hurt Your Supply?

  • We actually see a consistent feeding routine help Mom’s supply.
  • When we “cluster feed”, it can cause that vicious cycle like we talked about earlier of them getting too tired to eat well then they only eat a little and will not suck aggressively at the breasts, which can cause a decrease in your supply. This is the exact opposite of what we want to happen.
  • The Moms on Call Schedule is 100% breastfeeding safe! I have never had a mom working with me have her milk supply decrease from our schedules.
  • I have had them notice an overall regulation in their production, and even an increase!

At Moms on Call, we support all families whether breastfed, bottle fed, or a combination of both. We are 100% Pro Fed Baby and we support families in whatever feeding option works best for Mom and baby. It can look different from baby to baby and family to family. However you feed your baby, your little one has the most incredible Mom in the world because of your love for them, not how you feed them.

We've got a FREE resource ready to send you that is age-appropriate for where your child is right now.

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