Cluster Feeding: What is it?

Breastfeeding comes with a TON of new terminology, that you often have to learn on the fly! We wanted to discuss one of the terms people hear a lot when they start breastfeeding. One frequently asked question is, what is cluster feeding? You might’ve heard of this before giving birth, as it’s a fairly common phenomenon, so let’s chat about it!

Cluster feeding just means that your baby is feeding at shorter intervals, usually around every hour but potentially every 30 minutes.1 Typically during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you’ll feed an average of 8-12 times a day. If you’re finding that feedings are more frequent than usual this is cluster feeding! Cluster feeding is very normal and is not reflective of how much milk is being produced.1 Cluster feeding mainly occurs for two reasons. Either babies are trying to fill up even more before bed to get a long sleep, or they are going through a growth spurt! If the clusters are typically in the evening, try and follow your baby’s lead and feed on demand. 

Growth spurts are very common during the first year, since little ones grow so quickly! The typical times that babies experience these periods of rapid growth are 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months old.2 Since every child is different, this timing might not be exact! When your baby is going through a growth spurt, they’ll want to nurse very frequently and for longer periods of time.1 Your supply will increase as well during these times, since you produce more milk the more you breastfeed! Growth spurts can be taxing on a breastfeeding mom, so remember to increase your fluids and calories. They typically last for just a few days, but again it’s different for everyone!

Resources

  1. Cluster feeding and growth spurts. WIC Breastfeeding. (n.d.). https://wicbreastfeeding.fns.usda.gov/cluster-feeding-and-growth-spurts. 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 11). How much and how often to breastfeed. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/breastfeeding/how-much-and-how-often.html. 

Claire Dowell