Lately, when my baby is nursing, she turns fussy after a minute or two and stops. Then she’s hungry again an hour later. What am I doing wrong??
See if this rings true: It’s evening, around 6pm, and your baby wants to nurse. You start to feed her, but after a few minutes she dozes or starts shifting. Maybe she turns a little fussy. Either way, she’s sending you signals that she doesn’t want to nurse anymore and needs comforting instead.
You comfort her with shushing noises, you carry her and sing a little, and she settles down. Then, an hour later, she wants to nurse again. And so on, all during the evening.
This is a typical cluster feeding (or “bunch feeding”)pattern, and it’s normal for younger babies. It seems to go hand in hand with fussy evenings, and as we know, a fussy baby doesn’t often get a full meal. Babies do settle down after an evening of this type of feeding.
Why this happens, no one is completely sure, only that it tends to go away by the time baby is three to four months old. According to blogger Kelly Bonyata of the popular site KellyMom, this fussy time seems to be characterized by a need to have small quantities of milk at frequent intervals, combined with lots of holding, cuddling and movement.
Keeping this in mind, here are some techniques for cluster feeding:
- Turn on soft music. Nothing with cymbals, but something that’ll catch baby’s attention and offer soothing.
- Use a sling or baby carrier. That way, your hands will be free to take care of other things like dinner, but baby will receive that close warmth from you. Can you nurse this way? That might help, too.
- Make good use of the rocking chair, the stroller.
- Sing or talk to baby.
- Dim lights and reduce loud noises.
- Swaddle baby in a swaddle blanket. Need swaddling tips? See our Boston Baby Nurse blog post on swaddling.
Sometimes, it’s all of the above! But babies do get through it. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about anything that bothers you.