Managing Cluster Feeding and Comfort Nursing

November 6, 2012

Cluster Feeding and Comfort NursingThere’s no denying that breastfeeding creates an unmistakable bond between mom and baby. This bond brings about incredible emotional security and comfort to your baby, while providing the best nutrition possible. So, it’s no surprise babies are eager to breastfeed often and enjoy that special time with mom. However, babies tend to nurse frequently throughout the evening and drift off to sleep easiest while breastfeeding. This frequent nursing demands much of a mother’s time and can leave her feeling exhausted. But, don’t worry, comfort nursing and cluster feeding are only temporary, and soon you may even find you miss all those special moments with baby.

Comfort Nursing vs. Sleep Training
There has always been a debate over whether parents should practice “tough love” or comfort nursing before bed. The truth is, every family is different, but there’s nothing wrong with comforting and calming your baby by breastfeeding before bed. Creating a calming routine preparing for sleep can be beneficial for your baby. If you’re concerned you’ll always have to nurse to get your baby to sleep, don’t worry. Do what feels right for you, your baby and your family.

What if I need to spend a night away from my baby?
Babies are very adaptable and will grow more comfortable falling asleep over time with you not around. Talk to your caregiver about having a very calm bedtime routine while you’re away, so your little one can prepare for sleep. Also, when you are comfort nursing in the evenings, try reducing the duration of the feeding. This may help them not rely on breastfeeding as much to fall asleep.

My baby won’t stop cluster feeding. Will I have enough milk?
A mother’s body is very in tune with her baby’s needs. For that reason, it’s always best to feed whenever your little one is hungry. Pumping or breastfeeding often is the best way to maintain supply and ensure your baby is getting all the breast milk he or she needs. Many moms find cluster feeding exhausting. Over time, your little one will demand less breast milk, especially after introducing solids. Also, try to keep a positive attitude while breastfeeding and enjoy all the special bonding moments it creates.

Moms, how did you manage cluster feeding and comfort nursing? Write your responses in the comments below and share the post with your friends.

32 thoughts on “Managing Cluster Feeding and Comfort Nursing

  1. I ended up having an emergency cesarean (under full anesthesia) after laboring at an out of hospital birth center, so along with this came a heavy amount of recovery for me that first week home as well as weaning my daughter off of formula and subsequently a bottle after we figured out breastfeeding. Personally I couldn’t handle the comfort nursing as my blood pressure kept fluctuating as well, the 3 and 4 hour sessions of breastfeeding at night and then during the day were really hard on my body. I ended up figuring out when she started sleep fighting and nursing for comfort and gave her a pacifier. My daughter didn’t have issue with nipple confusion (since she started on a bottle anyways) and we were mindful of her feeding times/ cues signals with the pacifier. Since then we’ve established a little bit more of a schedule which works best for all of us, giving me a chance to recover more. I didn’t think I would go to giving her a pacifier at all before that but it sure helped keep my blood pressure low!

    • Hi Shannon – Thanks for taking the time to share your story with our community! We’re honored to be a part of your breastfeeding journey and so proud of all of your hard work.

    • Comfort nursing or feeding a baby to sleep is NOT the problem. It’s when a baby can’t go BACK to sleep during the night that it becomes troublesome. Babies wake anywhere from 2-6 times a night. This is completely normal. But it’s when they can’t go back to sleep without a comfort feeding that the comfort feeding becomes problematic. Every baby is different some can be fed to sleep and sleep great. While others are sensitive to props such as comfort feedings and wake throughout the night expecting them. I am a baby sleep consultant so I help parents with this dilemma all the time. Here’s my article about this

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