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 breastmilk he or she needs. Many moms find cluster feeding exhausting. Over time, your little one will demand less breastmilk, 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.

17 thoughts on “Managing Cluster Feeding and Comfort Nursing

  1. My 3 month old Cluster feeds before every nap and in the evening. Before reading this article I didn’t even know there was a name for what he was doing! He still wakes up through the night as well, will only nurse for about 5 minutes, and goes back to sleep. He also wants to be held on my chest while sleeping and when he is tired. I am exhausted. Sometimes I want to give up, but my desire to nurse him until he is 1 is greater than my desire to quit right now.

    • Hi Mary,

      Hang in there, you’re doing a great job! This type of feeding is completely normal.

      Thanks for sharing with us – sending warm thoughts your way and hoping you can get some rest soon!


  2. This is my second child but first time breast feeding. My son who is 3.5 months old loves to comfort nurse. He wakes up every 2 hours a night, in his crib or co sleeping. Just to comfort nurse for about 5 min. And back to bed. I try to have him sleep in his crib until I go to bed anywhere from 12-3 am. Then I just take him to bed because I am way to tired to get up every 2 hours, sometimes every hour.
    So if I were to let him continue to comfort nurse, my plan is until he is 1 years old transition him to no more. Is there a timeline to wean the comfort nursing or it is just within each individual baby? Will he eventually start sleeping longer between feeding?

    • Hi Sarah,

      Congratulations on your new baby! Every baby is different, and periods of cluster feeding and comfort nursing can come and go. Babies do eventually start to sleep longer between feedings, and you can learn more about comfort nursing here: Above all, know that you’re doing a great job! Keep up the awesome work.

  3. This is my second baby, who is completely opposite from my first. My now 19 week old baby comfort nurses every 2 hours at night. Whether he is in his crib or sleeps with me. It’s like clock work. I have noticed he has been starting to go 3 hours now sometimes in the middle of the night. I don’t mind it anymore after doing research and talking to a lot of lact. consultants and sleep experts online. He has been a very needy baby who needs extra comfort and contact, whether it’s day or night. We have excepted who he is and try not to stress about him not being an independent sleeper yet. I believe he will gain this confidence overtime. I still encourage him to try to comfort himself at night. I am now a firm believer in comfort nursing.

    • Hi Sarah,

      That’s wonderful to hear – it’s so important to understand that babies nurse for comfort and not just for food! We’re glad you found the information and support you needed. Keep up the fantastic work, mama!

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