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Barbara Cohen, IBCLC

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Cluster feeding is good and normal

The wisdom that babies possess never ceases to amaze me. Take cluster feeding. Free-sleeping babies (not swaddled), will begin to ask for frequent but short feedings in the evening, usually between 5 and 10pm. During these hours, that baby who was pretty content to sleep during the day in the beautiful bassinet that Aunt Mabel gave you, is just not having it after 5pm. She probably communicates pretty clearly that she wants to stay "in the diner", close to the food source for easy snacking. And you wonder what you are doing wrong and how can she possibly be hungry again so soon. No worries, you are doing just fine. She's so smart and knows exactly what she's doing. Check this out. She's hard-wired to bunch those feedings really close together (yes, every 20 minutes is normal) because it builds a robust milk supply for the middle of the night. Supported by your hormones that surge in the darkness and frequent emptying of your breasts in the evening, your milk supply after midnight is likely at the highest it will be over the next 24 hours. And your baby knows this! Another thing she knows is that by asking for many snacks in the evening, she's actually manipulating the sleep-inducing proteins in your milk which are at their highest when your breasts are emptiest. Those proteins go a long way in helping her get that first stretch of deep sleep at night. Sync up your deepest sleep with her deepest sleep and you'll keep sleep deprivation to a minimum. How cool is that?

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