Cluster Feediing?

Updated on February 23, 2008
A.T. asks from Euclid, OH
51 answers

this question is for my brother... Dan and his wife Jenn just had a baby on 2/8 - Ella -born 3.5 weeks early was 6#6 oz and she 'cluster feeds' - I've never heard this term before last week - Ella is up ALL night crying and they are at their wits end... like literally ALL night- Jenn breast feeds Ella too - the doctor is saying that this is normal and she'll grow out of it in 2 - 3 weeks - well Dan and Jenn are a mess and I feel so bad for them - has anyone else experienced a newborn that 'cluster feeds' and how did you get through it... I'd love to be able to pass any tips on to them...

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D.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hi A.
My 4th child did this and I found that a pacifier was what helped. I know many people don't want to give their baby this but it did help tremendously with the cluster feedings. I did feed her more often than my others but at least she wasn't hangin' on me all day.

D.

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H.M.

answers from Bloomington on

I have been there with the cluster feeding and it is hard! Tell her/him to stick with it and it will end. The first several weeks of breastfeeding can be daunting. Also it's good to remeber that this is a preemie who is not even at her due date yet, so that could be a factor in being higher needs. Do they swaddle her? They might also find some advice from the Le Leche League.

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H.S.

answers from Dayton on

Cluster feeding is very normal. There might be reasons though that they don't realize like food sensitivities, baby needing be swaddled, etc that are contributing to colic symptoms (chiropractic is also very effective for colic but food sensitivities are big too, dairy elimination is where I would start and see if that improves things-takes a full 21 days to get it totally out of your system). Co-sleeping is a huge help to moms to facilitate breastfeeding and to help her and baby get more sleep and more restful sleep at night. Mothers that co-sleep get an average of 45 minutes more of sleep a night. If she hasn't found a La Leche League near her to go to she should. If nothing else she would be put at ease by talking to a Leader on the phone. You might be a big help to her by looking up her area and finding a Leader in her area to call. www.llli.org

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H.G.

answers from Columbus on

i breast fed with my daughter (now 17 months) & the first few months were very much like what you described with your brother's baby...up throughout the night breastfeeding. my ped explained that some babies just like to feed like that & she would grow out of it...it took her 5 months! yes, we were very tired! we ended up doing a cry-it-out method once we realized she wanted to just interact more than eat, but that took awhile b/c for a long time she really was hungry all night & needed the milk. she would eat every two hours throughout the day & night, crying in between half the time. i feel for them. some babies are just like that (i only know of one other besides my own who was like this). cluster feeding actually helped her sleep longer during the night. breastfeeding can be very trying on the mother (& father!) especially with a baby like this...i was strongly against sharing a bed, so we have a very comfortable lazy boy chair in the nursery & i would sleep in that chair while nursing, or if i was super tired, we would just bring her to the bed & my husband would take her back to the crib after she was finished & asleep. this really sounds so similar to our daughter & i can only imagine how sleep deprived they are...my ped also mentioned that it most likely wouldn't get any better if we switched to formula, so we stuck with breastfeeding. i feel for them & can only say that they will get through it & be able to say that they had a 'difficult' sleeper & eater & made it out alive :o)

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B.W.

answers from Cincinnati on

I have a 5 yr old and a 2 yr old and both "cluster fed" or, as I called it, were "grazers". I think it's normal and it is appropriate to feed as the baby needs or wants for the first month or two. Mine breastfed no less than 2 hours between feedings and typically fed every 45 minutes to hour and a half. It IS a nightmare, and sleeping (for mommy and daddy) is few and far between. I'm not a huge fan of co-sleeping, but I did it for the first two months, just so I could get rest. During the night I didn't have to physically get up for "snack time" every hour. I just let them nurse for a few minutes and back to sleep. Let them know that this will end, but for now, I think most mothers and pediatricians would recommend allowing baby to nurse whenever they want for however long they want. The nutrition is very, very important at this stage. After a couple months, as the nursing skill is mastered by both mom and baby, and the breastmilk comes in abundantly, nursing sessions will get longer and time between feedings will get longer. She can start to consciously work on a schedule when baby is a couple months old. Things will get better with a little time! Although this lack of sleep and constant nursing is draining and frustrating, it is a small sacrifice in the grand scheme. She will miss these days when no longer breastfeeding (but will enjoy her newfound sleep!). What a wonderful relative you are!!

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J.E.

answers from Indianapolis on

Cluster feeding is normal, although not necessarily easy to deal with. Since the baby is only 3 weeks old, she really shouldn't be put on an overly strict schedule. Nursing on demand is very important to help establish a good milk supply and nursing relationship. Just tell her to be sure to follow the baby's feeding cues and not the clock, and to her feed when she's hungry. A lot really depends on the baby's personality too - some babies are just more demanding that others, and some can be more laid back. If her baby is more tempermental, then she may be even less cooperative with trying to impose a schedule anyway. I caution the use of the book Baby Wise - I know many may have had success with it, but, especially in the beginning, it is important to nurse on demand. It is definetly a good idea to encourage full nursings. The hind milk that is received towards the end of the nursing can take 10-15 minutes to get to, so it is important to not switch sides before 10 minutes of nursing is finished on one or the other. The hind milk helps the baby feel full and satisfied. Good luck to your brother and sister-in-law!

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A.D.

answers from Canton on

About baby Ella's Cluster Feeding...Yes this is very normal for a baby that is a few weeks old. Think of it this way: Ella has an extremely tiny tummy (All newborns do!) The capacity is less than a ping pong ball. Breast milk is also very easily digested and perfect for a newborns young, sensitive intestines. The first few weeks breastfeeding can be very challenging and not exactly "enjoyable" for new moms. (Speaking from experience with each of my three babies!) But it gets SO much easier in just a few weeks. So encourage her to hang in there. Bring her meals, do her laundry and dishes, run errands for them so they can nap during the day as much as possible. For a premature baby breast milk can literally save their life. This is cold and flu season after all. Neonatologists will even prescribe donated breast milk from a milk bank in some situations for a preemie if mom is unable to pump and provide it due to a medical reason. This milk, which is screened and pasteurized like donated blood, has to be purchased by prescription for around $300 an ounce! So, yes, as hard as these sleepless nights are, for Ella it's worth it!

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K.P.

answers from Cincinnati on

Oh give them a great big hug, poor things! Yes! Cluster feeding is completely normal, especially for a baby who is trying to 'catch up'. My Grace is a year old and she just recently weaned. Tell her to stick with it. If at all possible sleep whenever she is not feeding. All other baby care can be done by any help she can get. It sounds like the baby has days and nights mixed up. Does she use a pacifier? My lactation consultant had us use avent pacifiers. Only the uber breastfeeding community is against pacifiers and this is the real world and breast fed babies like to succle. I would suggest trying to bf as much as possible in the day, waking the baby if sleeping during feeding time and at night if it is not time for a scheduled feeding then try a pacifier. It may take a while for the baby to get used to one if not using it now. If the baby still cries then go ahead and nurse.

Just my two cents.

Good luck to your family!

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T.R.

answers from Columbus on

Does the baby stop feeding b/c she is falling asleep? That is what happened to me. My little girl would eat for a bit, fall asleep, and then be ready to eat again soon when she woke. If this is the case, tell your sister-in-law to wake the baby up until Ella has eaten 10 minutes on each side. She can wake the baby by stroking the cheek, tapping her forehead with her finger, or rubbing the baby's chest with her finger/knuckle. These were all suggestions by my doctor and they WORKED. I was like the walking dead for awhile too.

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C.V.

answers from Cleveland on

i assume she was told to cluster feed..?? has she considered that the baby may be a colic baby?? my babies were both small and close to full term (6 lbs. range) and the first one was SOOOO COLICKY. She cried from 5 or 6 pm until about 12-1 a.m. for 9 weeks. It was horrible and very rough as a first time mom! But she was bottle fed and I know for sure was not hungry all the time she spent crying. Just something to think about. Good Luck to Jenn and Dan it is NOT EASY but you have to go with your best mom instincts!!

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K.L.

answers from Indianapolis on

YES! This happened with my son, and it's enough to make you want to stop breastfeeding...but tell her not to! I had our baby sleep with us. I know most doctors don't recommend this, but it worked for our family. That way, I could breastfeed my son, and get some sleep as well. We even went so far as to put a queen size and full size mattress together, and make one BIG bed. That way, the baby has plenty of room.

If she decides to go this route, make sure she knows that blankets and pillows need to be away from the baby.

This stage only lasted about the first 6 weeks...then it happens again at 3 months, and again a 6 months... But it's SO well worth it to keep breastfeeding.... Good luck! :)

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J.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

I have been through this myself! I didn't know that is was called cluster feeding at the time. I lived through this while raising 3 older children and believe me I can relate to them. I tried pacifers to help with her need for sucking and finally -- -- I decided my milk was not rich enough for her and started supplementing formula. That was the answer. Within a week she started responding and eating on a normal schedule.

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J.M.

answers from Columbus on

You could suggest pumping to her. Have her pump enough through the day that they couold take shifhts. But she will have to worry about nipple confusion then. The other thing she could do is co sleep with her girl and nurse her while she lies on her side. This way she can go back to sleep. I did this durning the first 2 months so I could keep rested. Good Luck!

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M.L.

answers from Cincinnati on

so far you have gotten a few very good responses. she might also be interested in attending a breastfeeding support group at a hospital, or the LeLeche League!
feeding a newborn "as needed" is VERY important to establish a good supply of milk.
the baby will grow out it in a couple more weeks, but she may still want to nurse alot. maybe she could pump and dad and her could take turns feeding the baby. freshly pumped breastmilk can sit out for a couple of hours, so she could pump right before bed, and sit out ready to go for the next feeding in 1-2 hours...

getting a "with-in arms reach" co-sleeper might be a good idea so that she can nurse the baby in the co-sleeper and then as soon as the baby falls asleep, she can move back to her own bed without disturbing the baby! when the baby awakes the mom can lay partially in the co-sleeper again to nurse her back to sleep.

as for the woman who suggested colic... if a baby stops crying when offered food, then it's not colic. also in my opinion colic is a generic term the dr's give to parents... usually there is a REASON why a baby crys. it is the only way that it can communicate. if it could talk it would say "i'm hungry, i'm wet and uncomfortable, my tummy hurts, or i am really bored and my brain need stimulation to develop properly!!
if it was a toddler crying that his tummy hurt, we would hold them and rub their belly. if a toddler said that they were hungry we would give them a snack. if a toddler is bored we give them things to do, activities, or at least t.v. LOL

so for a baby all of those things are still applicable.
feed them, comfort them, entertain them (for their brain development!!)

mel
(letting a baby cry it out is a big pet peeve of mine! how would we feel if we were in a nursing home/ hospital, and they did that to you!)

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J.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter cluster fed and screamed all night. The way that we tried to combat it was by feeding on a strict schedule during the day, like every 1 1/2 to 2 hours - even if she wasn't asking for it or seemingly interested. That helped us lengthen the time between feedings in the middle of the night - not by much but 30 minutes or so. It took a week or so but she eventually settled down and became much more content at night. We also took her to a chiropractor who adjusted her from a tough birth which allowed her to pass her bowels more regularly and stopped a lot of the crying. Hope that helps. I remember how tough those first few weeks were.

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L.H.

answers from Toledo on

When I had my last baby a few years ago, I was determined to breastfeed her. She latched on fine and the lactation consultant helped me while I was in the hospital and felt pretty confident that it was going to work out once we were home. However, she was wanting to eat all the time like you described and I was at my wits end. At her 1st check up she had lost weight from when we were discharged so the Dr had us doing a weight check every 2-3 days and she continued to lose for another week. The Ped Dr suggsted i go back to hospital and meet with the lactation consultant. So we went and I nursed for a total of 45 minutes- again latching on was fine but she would always pull off the breast after a few minutes and then go back and nurse. So after the lactation consultant thought it was a fair amount of time for her to be full she went and grabbed one of the 2 oz formulas from the nursery and said DD wouldn't want anything to do with it if she was full. To our surprise she drank all 2 oz of that bottle as well as another! So the nurse then suggested that maybe I should try to pump to increase my milk production but I couldn't hardly get any milk when i pumped... it finally came down to them saying for whatever reason I wasn't producing milk to feed DD. Since I was very concerned about her gaining weight and growing, I would nurse for about 30 minutes at a feeding and then supplement a few ounces. The Dr, nurse and I all had the same thought that whatever breast milk DD could get to start the feeding was better than none and then the formula would fill her tummy up the rest of the way. It seemed to work because she's a healthy, very active 5 yo kindergartener!

Sorry this is so long- but thought I'd give me own experience on the subject... ;)

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M.S.

answers from Cleveland on

Well I hope I can help. I had my baby also on feb 8th and he was 6lbs 10oz so about the same size *he was 40weeks term though* He sometimes does cluster feed. The one thing your SIL needs to keep in mind is to let baby empty the whole breast let her feed on it until she pops herself off because the fats (the good stuff that will keep her happy and full and sleepy) come at the end of the feeding. You SIL should feel a kinda pulling from inside the breast and its a kind of itchy feeling its called Letdown. She will grow out of it My son T.J. is already starting to feeding from both breasts at the same time and sleep4-5 hrs. She has to be patient. Breastfeeding is a learning experience for baby and mommmy. Eventually it will become much easier. To get through it you just have to feed them to be honest. Let her stay on one breast as long as she can (atleast 20 mins but sometimes can be up to 45). If she or you have any other questions you can email me.

[email protected]____.com

~M. Momma to Darien (7y/o) Allison (22 months) and T.J. (2-8-08)

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S.K.

answers from Evansville on

My now four year old DD was exactly like this although I did not nurse. (I have read it can happen to breast or bottle fed) She had a terrible time all evening and then stayed up all night usually crying, sometimes just awake but if you put her down then she cried. Just a few things to make it through, my husband & I split up the night he went to bed 8-2 and slept, I stayed up with DD. I went to bed 2-8. This way we were both getting several hours of uninterrupted sleep. Also my mom came and stayed with us one weekend and she kept DD so we could sleep. It is very frustrating and you feel so helpless. Just encourage them, help them and let them know it will pass. The baby carrier (snugli) helped me, I would strap her in and do house work. Sometimes she cried for hours on end. Also she liked to be swaddled tight at times. I would put a heating pad in the crib and get it warm, take it out before I laid her in there and sometimes that helped. Also google colic and cluster feeding...you may get some ideas. Overall just be patient and try to sleep as much as possible. Even if she is nursing she could pump and let someone else feed her occasionally. I know a lot of moms will not agree but until you have dealt with a baby like this day in and day out for weeks/months on end you have no idea waht it is like. We were in complete survival mode. HTH

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S.D.

answers from Indianapolis on

Yup, lots of babies cluster feed during growth spurts. The best and easiest way to deal with it is to co-sleep. Ella can wake up, root around and nurse and go right back to sleep. Both momma and daddy will get far more sleep. Also, waking her up more often during the day - every 2-3 hours - can help lengthen night-time sleep duration.
Also, as long as she continues to gain weight and have wet and poopy diapers, they don't need to worry about how much she gets. So don't relay any messages about her not getting enough nutrients, it's very unlikely and her doctor has probably already asked these questions.

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A.S.

answers from Cincinnati on

My daughter did cluster feedings every so often, but it eventually went away as she got a little older and put more weight on.

A.

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C.D.

answers from Columbus on

My oldest daughter had some problems with her baby sleeping and it had nothing to do with feeding. They went on-line and purchased swaddling blankets from New Zealand, it's a comfort thing. They would wrap her like a glow worm and she started sleeping better and longer. She needed to be wrapped to sleep and they were able to transition her at about 4 months and she turned into a great sleeper. She can do research on swaddling and it’s very effective. It's worth a try.

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S.C.

answers from South Bend on

Suggest that she pumps on one side while feeding on the other throughout the day. Then, before bed give the pumped milk by bottle (perfect time for daddy to bond). From the breast, the milk comes slower than a bottle. She will be satisfied longer, therefore allowing a nice block of sleep. If results are still not great, go ahead and go for formula. My kids each had a bottle of formula before bed because it takes longer to digest which helped with a sleeping schedule. They were primarily breastfed and they did just fine. No one should feel guilty about it. I have known plenty of new moms who are so wrapped up in breastfeeding only that they were devastated as if they were admitting defeat when they turned to formula. but it is not defeat. Being a mom is hard work. You have to be rested and happy.

Also, what everyone has heard before, she should sleep when the baby sleeps. It usually is just the first few weeks that they have to get through till mom and baby sync up with supply and demand for milk.

Also, intentional stimulation during the day to aid in sleepiness at night.

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M.W.

answers from Cincinnati on

Yes, this is normal, and especially for a premie who cannot handle very much food at one time. For now, the parents really need to sleep during the day if they aren't getting much at night. Nothing can sabotage the breastfeeding quicker than exhausted parents, not to mention can lead down the road to postpartum depression. As a sister, you could come over and help with housework, meals, and/or watch the baby while they sleep.

My suggestion other than sleep whenever they can get it, is for mom to nurse lying on her side in bed. She can latch the baby while sitting up, then lay down with the baby still latched. Don't worry if mom falls asleep with the baby. This is good, and hopefully mom will soon be able to sleep through nursings at night. Despite what some say, cosleeping is safe. If you don't believe me, google cosleeping and read about it(especially research by James Mckenna).

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K.F.

answers from Indianapolis on

Cluster feedings can be tough, but tell them to just hang in there! Nursing on demand (even if it seems to be for hours at a time!) is the best thing for a new little one, espeically since she was early and is still catching up on her growing. Many nursing babies cluster feed or nurse more often than people would expect, especially if people are used to formula fed babies or babies who aren't fed on demand. It can seem like a lot at first, but even excusively breastfed babies quickly space their feedings out. I know that's not to reassuring at the time when it feels like this is going to go on forever and it would be easier to give up the nursing or try to give her some formula or even cereal (which some people think will keep babies satified longer, though studies show that it doesn't), but tell your sister-in-law to stick with it! She's doing the best for her daughter and just needs all the support she can get to get through this trying time. Like her dr said, it normally doesn't last more than a month or 2 and then feedings space out much more managably. I have 2 little ones that were excusively breastfed, so I know the beginning can be rough going, but in the end it is so worth it! Co-sleeping helped us though all the night nursing. It's really a sanity saver since I can even go back to sleep while my daughter nurses! Also, get in touch with La Leche League for more breastfeeding suport and also so your sister-in-law can meet other nursing moms!

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B.C.

answers from Toledo on

Hi A.
tell your brother and sister-in-law to check with the doctor to make sure the baby is getting enough milk while breast feeding.
The baby might not get enough milk while breast feeding
B.

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A.M.

answers from Cincinnati on

Yes my daughter did this but it lasted for 3 months with her. I know others might not think this is a great idea. But it worked for a friend of mine. See if your SIL is willing to pump some milk off and have them set up a rotation of her husband feeding and her breastfeeding. It will give your SIL some time to rest and be able to produce what is needed for Ella. It will also give each other a break. It took us three months with my daughter to finally get the hang of what to do but it worked. I would go to bed when my husband would come home from work and sleep for a couple of hours if she needed to be feed during that time he could feed her and then I would take her for the next couple of hours. My daughter was born at 5 pounds 4 ounces so I think weight does have something to do with it.

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S.M.

answers from Columbus on

My son was like that as a baby as well. The best advice I can give you it to just keep in mind that it is only for a short period of time. This, too, will pass. I know it doesn't seem like it now, but it will not last long. The thing that really helped me was to have his crib set up right next to, literally touching, my side of the bed so I could just reach in, pick him up, and nurse. Just try to get sleep when you can, and good luck!

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N.C.

answers from South Bend on

My daughter tried to cluster feed and foruntately we were able to combat it. I am a huge believer in a schedule. I did some reading and it helped tremendously. Tell Jenn to try and get the baby to nurse at least 10 minutes on each side. 10 minutes of active nursing so it might take 20 mintes on one side. Be patient and do whatever it takes to keep the baby awake and nursing--wet clothes on the baby's face, take off clothes, etc. As another person posted the milk at the end is the most nutritous and will fill and satisfy the baby. The beginning milk is like dessert. Then strive to get the baby to nurse every 2 1/2-3 hours, have some wake time, then let the baby go to sleep. By adapting to this schedule it will allow the baby to get more sleep because she's not waking up hungry. Addison was sleeping 8 hours at night by 2 months. I have 4 girlfriends that all had babies the same time as me. All of our babies were sleeping at least 8 hours by 2 months and all of us had very happy and content babies because they were getting enough to eat and getting enough sleep. I recommend the book "Baby Wise" for the nursing tips and scheuduling.
N.

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A.O.

answers from Indianapolis on

I went through the same thing with my daughter who was born 4 weeks early. She cried constantly, and wanted to eat constantly. It did not end with her. I finally had to switch doctors and he sent her for allergy tests at a year old and she is allergic to milk. You might suggest trying to remove all milk from her diet for a little while and see if that helps. The cluster feeding is absolutely normal, I went through it with feeding both of my kids. She needs to get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of fluids. My daughter would cry throughout the day and then from 7 at night to one oclock in the morning every single day. Just remind her that it will end and be there for her because I got very depressed dealing with all of the screaming. Tell your brother to keep a close eye on her and to take turns. good luck

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M.M.

answers from Youngstown on

see this site for info on cluster feeding and pass it along to your sister in law. they will get through it, i did. she may have to sleep in another room with the baby until it passes so that your brother can get a little sleep.

http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/fussy-evening.html

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A.N.

answers from Cleveland on

Yup, this is normal. My second baby cluster fed as a newborn. She should grow out of it in a few weeks, but it may be a challenge to get her on a normal schedule of sleeping at night and being more awake during the day. My daughter finally started sleeping more at night at around seven weeks, but she was a "colicky" baby with reflux and a milk allergy, so she was more of a challenge. Good luck!

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C.M.

answers from Columbus on

It sounds like she may be collicky. Have they discussed that with the doctor? My 9 mo. old son cluster fed a lot of mornings the first few months. It's very normal- I was told.
They also have some growth spurts the first few months when they just can't get enough breast milk or formula.

Hope this helps
C.

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J.M.

answers from Indianapolis on

I do not know the term "cluster feeds". Yet my second son ate regularly during the night. He also cried every night from 9pm-2am. I was exhausted! My husband and a dear friend took turns walking and cuddling my son while I slept in another part of the house...for weeks. My son did grow out of it! There is hope!
I also changed my diet.....took out almost all dairy products and peppery vegetables(broccoli,caggage,cauliflower etc..) It took a good three weeks but the crying spells ended and we all got some sleep.
We also used a battery operated bouncy seat right next to our bed. The vibration really help our son sleep soundly thus we were able to rest too!
Encourage your sister too keep trying to things. She will figure out what works best.
It is also OK to let someone do a bottle feeding in amongst all the breast feeding. I loved breast feeding but it was really nice to let someone else do supplemental feedings while I rested too.
My younger sister has five children under 8yrs. old. She has always left that late evening feeding approx.8:30-9pm to her husband , grandparents, friends whomever. She goes to bed and sleeps until the midnight shift begins. Her husband loves having the time to bound with each feeding as well.

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C.K.

answers from Indianapolis on

A.,

My son is now nearly 8 mos old. When he was that young, he did cluster feed. At times, it seemed like entire days that was all I did was breastfeed him. But they did pass and then occasionally he would cluster feed as he got older (a few months) usually before bedtime in the early evening). According to the nurse in the Peds Dr's office, babies tend to cluster feed so that they could sleep a few hours without eating and that they may do it around growth spurts. (How they know this is still a mystery to me.) I don't have any advice unfortunately, other than take heart Dan and Jenn - it will pass. Congratulations and good luck to them!

Cory K

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T.S.

answers from Columbus on

1. Suggest that they read "Happiest Baby On The Block" by Dr. Havrey Karp. They can also take a "Happiest Baby" class (depending on where they live). This can help them find ways to help soothe baby while feeding.

2. Suggest they hire a postpartum doula for overnight care. With the support and care from an expert in infant care, Mom and Dad can sleep when baby is restless. A postpartum doula can aslo help Mom with feedings (to make them more effective) and help baby "figure it out". When both parents are rested and calm, the baby will be too. If you are able, you can purchase them a few hours of support - it is a great way to give help without getting mixed up in family dynamics.

From Caroline, T.

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D.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

A., have they had Ella checked to make sure she is not tongue-tied? My 2 year old was doing the same thing when she was a new born, it was not caught right away...not until we had been home with her for a few days...if they are unable to latch on good they will not get enough to eat and so they will want to eat almost constantly, which can be very hard on the mother as well, in more ways than one!
She should be looked at by her pediatrician to see if she is tongue-tied.
Hope this helps you all out! D. R.

A.D.

answers from Columbus on

Hi, yes my daughter at birth cluster fed too. She will eat non stop all day pretty much until 10PM and sleep for 4 hours straight and start again the next day. I was exhausted because those few first week. But it's true that it'a only lasted about 3 weeks and then she swicthed to eating every 2 ours even at night which is not better because you 're still not getting enough rest. Than deosn't last long either because before you know it she is walking and then running. The only way to get tru it is to get as much sleep and rest and relax. The laundry deosn't have to be done right away, the floor deosn't have to be mopped right away. you need to just relax and go with the flow. You may offer help by bringing meals to them, doing some errands etc..Hope this helps.. Good luck to them.

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S.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

Congratulations on your new niece. As a lactation consultant, a couple of things leaped out at me about Baby Ella - 1) she is not even 2 weeks old and 2) she was born early. Many of the moms that responded offered many helpful suggestions and reasurance that cluster feeding is normal and yes it is. However, my main concern is that she is getting enough to eat. Is she gaining weight? By 2 weeks of age, she should be back to her birth weight. Is she trasferring enough milk? Premature and small babies often don't have enough "suck power" to get enough milk. Yes, they will suck until the cows come home, but the suck is ineffective so they aren't getting enough milk. And if their suck doesn't produce enough stimulation for mom, mom doesn't produce enough milk so you get a kind of viscous circle going. So - this baby could be doing entirely normal new baby stuff - or she could be hungry. I would be reassured if she was:

1-back to her birth weight
2-nursing "well" (mom feels full at start of feeding and softer at end, mom hears baby swallowing, baby happy after feed) at least 8-10 times in a day
3-has 4-6 good soaky wet diapers a day
4-has at least 4 yellow loose stools a day

If all of these things are not happening, she needs to immediately contact a lactation consultant (pediatrician or birth hospital should be able to offer a referral) or contact the local La Leche League leader for assistance. There are many plans that can work to get past this hump, but #1 - be assured the baby is getting enough to eat at every feeding. Good luck!

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D.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

My second did this. It is stressful but the baby will eventually slow down.

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H.J.

answers from Mansfield on

I went through the same thing. . with both of my kids. Both of my kids got into the habit of eating a bunch of short periods in a small amount of time. The best advice I can give is to try and stretch out the time in between feedings and to make sure the baby is eating plenty when she does eat. Also, make sure the Mom isn't trying to pacify the baby with breastfeeding. . have they tried a pacifier in between feedings? This may help lengthen the time in between feedings. Another trick we used to do is my husband would help in between feedings with the baby. . .meaning, the baby can smell the milk if the mother is holding her and just want to eat. Our children would be more calm for my husband just because they didn't instantly want to feed. If it is getting closer toa feeding it helps to have the husband help out to help in having the baby wait until it's time to eat.

Breastfeeding is such a wonderful bond for mother and child. . .and she is doing the best thing for her. Keep encouraging her because it won't last forever. . .it WILL get better. The baby will eventualy be on a schedule. . it is still early! Wish them luck.

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K.V.

answers from Columbus on

Both of my boys did this the first week or so and I was a basketcase. This is normal for a newborn and during growth spurts. They should have gone over this in her breastfeeding class. There is a free support group that meets at the Blackwell center and they have a FREE breastfeeding support line. Don't have the number or I would include it. I loved the book "12 hours in twelve weeks."

It is important that your sister-in-law wake the baby and feed every 2-3 hours during the day to help the baby sleep better at night. I was more prepared for it with my second son and by waking them during the day it got them to sleep better at night. Also lactation specialist will tell you to never use a pacifier. Part of the reason my son's were keeping me up all night is that they were using me as a pacifier. The peditrician noticed this with my first son and ordered me to use a pacifier and it helped me alot by forcing my sons to stop feeding every half hour.

Newborns do this to help bring on and increase mothers milk flow. Also if she is not getting enough sleep she will not be able produce enough milk. There is no shame in letting dad give baby a bottle of formula so that mom can sleep. Baby will more likely to take bottle from Dad then mom. Also sis needs to sleep whenever baby sleeps - no ifs ands or buts. It may upset family and friends but they can and need to let her sleep. Hubby needs to pitch in and do laundry and dishes and let her rest.

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T.M.

answers from Columbus on

Hi Ann,
I have a 3 month old, my 3rd, and breastfeed the first two without major delays. However, the third went through this same clusterfeeding when he was about 3-6 weeks old. I was so tired, sore from the constant feedings, and amazed at how different this experience was for me. However, it did end, and I am happy to say my 2 month old started sleeping about 6 hours, we are up to 8-10 hours during the night. The only change we made, was time. I think they just need a little more TLC and in our case, we actually are way ahead with our sleep schedule now than with my first two children.

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A.S.

answers from Indianapolis on

My son nursed every hour and a half for a few weeks when he was a few weeks old. He grew 4 inches and 4 lb the first month so she may need to eat. I would suggest having the husband try a bottle for one of the feedings so mom can get some rest. It will pass. Also- feed tons during the day- with hope that the night will be better. Hold on! If they think she just doesn't want to be put down let her sleep in the swing etc... whatever they have to do to get through it. Don't worry about bad habits etc.

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R.C.

answers from Indianapolis on

My little girl did the same thing, I was not producing enough milk. I tried the fenugreek herb and also presc. med and that did not work either so if she wasnts to try these things to increase milk prod. she can I had to end up giving her a bottle in the evening. I chose formula to give her, but you can also have a bottle pumped out and give her that after she nurses. That's the best way to nurse and then offer a bottle. It made a huge difference for us and it didn't effect her nursing during the day at all. She actually started sleeping thru the night when we got it all figured out (It took us about 6 wks to figure it out) Good Luck!

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B.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

By cluster feeding, do you mean feeding in less than 2 hours? I've heard/read where you are not supposed to feed an infant in less than 2 hours because it can upset their stomachs. My 5 month old is just getting over colic so I know what it's like for a baby to cry for hours - I'm so sorry for them!! Hang in there! I'm breastfeeding also and if my son cried after only an hour or so after the last feeding, I knew he was tired and NOT hungry.

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A.M.

answers from South Bend on

Hello, I am a mother and a pediatric RN. My daughter was the same way. It is important to remember that this will stop someday. Alot of babies have their days and nights mixed up, so it is good to make sure she is feeding her every 2-3 hours during the day, even if she has to wake her up to do so. Undress her during the feeding if she wont stay awake. Also, depending on how much she weighed, the smaller the baby, the more she is needing to gain weight and needs extra feedings. The best thing family can do is provide support for mom since she is exhausted. Help with dishes/cleaning, etc. Dad can get up and bring the baby to mom and let her sit up in bed. But it is important that mom doesn't get too wiped out and fall asleep with the baby in a way that could increase the risk of suffocation. Wish her luck. I am due in May with baby #2 and am expecting the same thing. My first ate for 90 minutes at a time and was hungry an hour later. Make sure she is eating and not just using the breast as a pacifier. Thanks, A.

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K.B.

answers from Columbus on

Have her consult Allison Hazelbaker or another lactician. I had great success with her. I've never heard of "cluster feeding" (my breastfeeder is 17 yrs old!). I suspect its what Mom is eating or ingesting (I'm a hairdresser and my daughter reacted to the chemicals I was ingesting on the job, now I "toxin cleanse"). Wheat and Dairy and Corn are usually the badboys! Omit from the diet for a month (and then gradually start again 1 week at a time to find out if the baby is allergic, mine was to Wheat), there are a lot of other grains out there available. My best wishes. I never listened to "let your baby cry iot out" I breastfed and worked fulltime as a single mother. I just was tired for the first 9 months!

A.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

Oh, I feel for your sister in law. My good friend has a one year old who "cluster fed" in the beginning. I want to say that it was for 2 or 3 months. She was so sleep deprived. I don't think there's much you can do except ride it out and know that it will end soon. I'm sorry.

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R.R.

answers from Indianapolis on

My 6 month old was the same way right after she was born, but when she was a week old we found out that she was intolerant to dairy, and later, soy proteins. This was after 2 or 3 trips in 1 week to the Pediatrician with me insisting something was wrong since my infant was frequently crying and screaming like she was in pain. And she would nurse often as well. Finally, they checked her stool in her diaper and there were blood traces. The Dr. said this was a dairy protein allergy and blood was a common indicator of the irritated bowel, even though I couldn't see it with the naked eye. As soon as I changed my diet, (my baby is breastfed as well) her "colic" went away. This may sound drastic, but if she is still crying a lot and cluster feeding, I would suggest to Jenn to cut out all dairy products. There are a lot of babies out there who are intolerant to those proteins and parents are not aware of it so it's worth a shot to see if Ella and the parents get some respite. Or at least take a fresh diaper to the Pediatrician and ask for them to check her stool. It's very fast on a little cardboard test. Hope that helps!

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S.F.

answers from Fort Wayne on

I have not heard of the term "cluster feeding", but it sounds like baby may not be receiving enough sustenance between meals. Here are some research links that might help.

http://www.babyzone.com/askanexpert/answer.asp?qid=15328
http://www.lactationconsultant.info/cuefeed.html
http://www.lactivist.com/evencluster.html
http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/fussy-evening.html

If this cluster feeding continues, the baby may not be receiving enough nutrients from the breastmilk. This is from a lower volume of fat in the milk, which doesn't provide enough sustenance to tide baby over until the next feeding. Have mom pump milk and add a teaspoon of cooked cereal to the milk in a bottle. The added consistency will help baby feel fuller and take baby longer to break down the contents, making baby sleep longer at night and giving mom and dad a bit of a break!

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