Why Is My Baby Wanting To Breastfeed All The Time?
Could It Be Cluster Feeding
"Why is my child hungry all the time?"
My first question would be, “how do you define ‘all the time’?”
Some people have unrealistic expectations for a breastfeeding baby. By rule, we know that they need to eat 8-12 times per 24 hours to sustain milk supply and growth. These feeds are rarely consistent by the clock’s standards, so throw the “two to three hour” rule out the window.
During those first couple of months, it tends to take 45 minutes to an hour per feed by the time you are able to get the baby stimulated enough to stay awake, fed on side one, burped, fed from the other side, and back down. The bigger the baby gets, the better they are at removing milk and the duration of the feeds will shorten.
Simple math tells us that if a baby is eating every 2 hours for an hour at a time, that is half of your day—and yes, “all the time!” But it's also completely normal.
Cluster feedings, do occur, from time to time as well, as a way for your baby to adjust your milk supply to fit their growing needs. The baby may cluster the night before your milk comes in, and again between one and two weeks when they reach their birth weight and attempt to double your milk supply from the one ounce they were getting to two, per feed.
Expect more clustering during growth spurts, as the baby continues to adjust the supply/ demand, although the older the baby gets, these are often less noticeable.
Try and not let the demands of the baby during these times get you down. It is not an indication that you do not have enough milk, nor does it last very long.
Get to know Holly Erwin, Cook Children's Virtual Lactation Consultant
Holly Erwin, LVN, IBCLC, is a mom of three boys and has worked as a pediatric nurse for over 11 years within the Cook Children's Health Care System. When not working, she spends her time running to and from sports for her boys, being outside with her family and dreaming of traveling with her husband of 10 years. For now, she settles for their bi-annual date-night!
Through her own children and the thousands of moms that she has helped over the years, Holly found a special interest in infants and breastfeeding. In 2015, she became internationally board certified as a lactation consultant and now works as an IBCLC virtually through the Cook Children's telemedicine department. Schedule an appointment with our virtual lactation consultant.