When feeding a baby, especially a newborn, there are seasons where they may want to eat several times a day. This eating pattern is called cluster feeding, which is healthy and common in growing and developing babies. Babies that breastfeed often exhibit cluster feeding because they try to help the mother build up milk supply. But can bottle fed babies cluster feed too? Do babies show the same signs when fed formula milk?
During cluster feeding, the baby usually feeds on breastmilk in very short intervals. For a mother, it may feel like the baby has had too much to drink and won’t stop breastfeeding. Before we get to the bottom of the question, can bottle fed babies cluster feed also, let us talk about why babies cluster feed first.
Why Do Babies Cluster Feed?
Newborn babies commonly demonstrate cluster feeding because they take in more calories every day. There will come a season where a baby may inhibit growth spurts and need to be continuously fed. When cluster feeding, the baby gets a lot of nourishment in just a short period.
In the case of breastfeeding, babies will cluster feed because milk quality may be at a low. This usually takes place during the afternoon or early evening. Cluster feeding is a necessary thing to do when it comes to newborn babies. It is also equally important to be aware of how to go about cluster feeding, not only for the baby’s advantage but also for the mother.
Feed On Purpose Not By Accident
To answer the question, can bottle fed babies cluster feed? The answer is yes. While breastfed babies frequently exhibit this kind of behavior the most, babies on formula can also demand cluster feeding. It is essential to note that bottle-fed babies who cluster feed should be given full meals each time.
The most important thing to consider when cluster feeding is it should be on purpose and not by accident. This means feeding the baby on intervals must be kept within a routine, and babies should be fed whole meals or full sessions. Snacking on milk will only make babies crave more because they may not be full yet. Snacking is not a very effective way of cluster feeding your baby.
Feeding on purpose means that you must be in rhythm when feeding your baby. You should anticipate the moment when the baby cluster feeds and try to stick to the time until the baby is done. When you try to find the rhythm, it may feel complicated or confusing at first. But, when you find the habit and make it a routine, it will create a clear foundation that can work to your advantage.
You and your baby can enjoy longer rests, be more in tune, and well aware of each other, especially at night. Sooner or later, the cluster feeding season will pass like a breeze.
Benefits Of Cluster Feeding
There are a lot of benefits to cluster feeding your baby properly. One is that the baby will be able to take long stretches of sleep after a cluster feeding session. If the baby is asleep, the mom can have adequate rest as well. In breastfeeding, milk supply will keep up with regular feeding habits. The best benefit that a baby gets when cluster feeding is that the baby will have the proper nourishment it needs during this time. Can bottle fed babies cluster feed like breastfeeding babies do? Yes, absolutely.
Cluster Feeding In The Day vs. Night
When purposely cluster feeding your baby, the proper routine you would want to have is awake by day, asleep at night. What you want to do is form a cluster feeding habit in the afternoon or early evenings. You would want to give as much milk to the baby as possible during this time. But what if your baby prefers to nap during the afternoons or early evenings? If possible, create a routine where your baby is awake while feeding during these times.
There are things you can do to keep the baby awake. When the baby is feeding, try to rub its tummy and have eye contact with the baby—talking and interacting while feeding can also be beneficial to keeping the baby as awake as possible. If the baby dozes off, there is always tomorrow to try again. Take it one step at a time, until you finally get the right habit and routine in check.
Signs To Look Out For
When cluster feeding the baby, especially in breastfeeding, a parent can be concerned if the baby is getting adequate milk supply. To provide you with peace of mind, you can track the number of wet diapers in a day. During the monitoring phase, if the count drops in wet diapers, your baby might not be eating well. Can bottle fed babies cluster feed on formula and have the same alarming signs? Yes, they can.
If your baby breaks out of your routine during cluster feeding, this may require your concern. The baby may be experiencing irritability, which can be caused by illness, like a fever. Another reason the baby can break out of the cluster feeding routine is the teething season. Also, the need for comfort may make the baby cry out and ask for food. Know more about baby diet.
Cluster feeding is a natural event for all parents and newborn babies. It is essential for a child’s developing body, brain, and growth. Cluster feeding is a way for the baby to be able to get the adequate nourishment it needs. Breastfeeding is essential, especially in the first year of a newborn child. But can bottle fed babies cluster feed and get the same nourishment as breastfeeding babies do? Yes!
I hope this article has added more insights into your baby care knowledge. Remember to be cautious and keep safety as the number one priority when dealing with the baby’s life.