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’m still going through it and it can be stressful at times. I questioned myself a lot. Am I making enough for him to eat? Is he starving?…. I wanted to cry for him at times when he was crying and throwing his body around on my boob cause nothing was coming out. But I just kept at it and keep telling myself over and over. I am NOT going to give him formula. And keep whispering to him everythings going to be ok. We’ll get through this. And sometime later some would come in and he would fall asleep. Patience is definitely the key when it comes to breastfeeding.

    • Hi Lisa, we’re so proud of you for trusting your body and your little one, too. We completely agree that perseverance and patience are keys to success. Thank you for taking the time to share with us. -Kathy

  2. My daughter is Six weeks old and is cluster/comfort feeding and I am trying so hard to keep at it. I’ve pumped milk to try and fill her up faster even though I HATE using a bottle, only to come to realize she’ll still.cluster/comfort.feed even after 3 oz! I have recently given her a bobo (pacifier) for when sge comfort suckles but I think starting tomorrow I’ll cut them off. I can’t resort to other things or she will too and iy can damage our progress and I would hate to see her resort to bottle feeding.

    • Hi Stacy,

      Keep up the great work – that sounds frustrating but know that cluster + comfort feeding is a brief stage and you will get through it! If you have any questions or need advice, please feel free to reach out to our Lactation Consultant, she would be happy to help you:

      – Kathy

  3. I am going through cluster feeding right now and it’s super frustrating with two toddlers (3,2) running around. I find myself yelling a lot cuz I’m just so tired, but my spouse helps me tremendously. My kids are going through the attention phase right now. My two yr old is especially clingy…

    • Hi Traci,

      Hang in there! It’s wonderful that your spouse provides you with such great support. Here’s hoping you can get some much-needed rest soon – cluster feeding won’t last forever, we promise.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Keep up the great work!


  4. My four week old newborn, Livi, cluster feeds very evening from around 4:00 pm until 11:00 pm or so. Some evenings (like tonight), the feedings are more frequent. At first, I would try and distract her with pacifiers or walks outside bc in my mind, I just couldn’t justify feeding her again. I thought, surely she can’t be hungry; it’s been half if an hour! However, tonight I realized I’m approaching it all wrong. Maybe she isn’t hungry–maybe she does just want to nurse for comfort or to prepare for some long sleep. So what?! Why deny her that? What better feeling is there than knowing that I am the sole provider for my baby’s needs?! So, tonight I’ve managed to accept my role as her mother and provider and with that acceptance comes the sense to plan my evenings around her feedings. Rather than becoming anxious and frustrated because she’s screaming as I’m trying to prepare dinner, I will have dinner figured out and started by noon (one of her long-sleep times). I will be grateful for her log stretches of sleep that are more than likely because

    • Long* stretches of sleep that are more than likely because of the cluster feeds and take advantage of them! By planning appropriately, I can avoid a lot of nonsense and frustration and enjoy my evenings with my newborn baby girl.

      **Sorry for some of the grammatical errors. I typed this on my phone and somehow managed to post the comment before I was able to proofread.**

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