Baby cluster feeding in morning

What Is Cluster Feeding & How Does It Work? – Forbes Health

If it feels like your newborn wants to nurse or take a bottle practically nonstop, don’t be alarmed, experts say: They may be in a stage of early childhood development known as cluster feeding.

Here’s everything you need to know about cluster feeding, why it happens and how to manage this stage of your baby’s development.

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What Is Cluster Feeding?

Most babies feed every two to three hours with a nap between feedings. Cluster feeding, however, occurs when your baby demands nearly back-to-back feedings with little to no downtime in between, followed by a longer than usual stretch of sleep. For a few babies, this is their regular feeding pattern.

However, even if your baby has a steady eat and sleep pattern, you may still experience cluster feeding on occasion. Although it happens primarily with breastfed babies, it can also occur to a lesser degree with bottle-fed babies. “It’s just a lot of feedings grouped very closely together over a span of several hours,” says Morgan Hedley, a certified lactation education specialist in Los Angeles.

“Normally, you’ll find yourself falling into a rhythm with your baby where they feed every two or three hours throughout the day,” she says. “Then, all of a sudden, they have an intense desire to breastfeed nonstop. You can literally be feeding for two-hour stretches without any break in between.”

Cluster feeding is a common phenomenon in young babies. It happens with most infants, so don’t be alarmed if your baby starts feeding more often than usual in the first few weeks of life. It doesn’t mean they aren’t getting enough milk—it simply means they’re adjusting your milk production. This is sometimes referred to as a “growth spurt,” though there is no evidence that a change in growth coincides with a change in feeding pattern—instead, a more accurate phrase for growth spurt is high-frequency days.

Why Does Cluster Feeding Happen?

Cluster feeding typically occurs in the first few weeks of a baby’s life, according to La Leche League, an international nonprofit that advocates for breastfeeding moms. In addition to soothing your baby, cluster feeding doubles as nature’s way of boosting milk production in a new mom while their body adjusts to supplying lots of milk for their hungry newborn.

Although this phase can be exhausting, experts agree that cluster feeding is a healthy and normal stage of infant development. In fact, it’s completely normal for new babies to nurse six to 18 times a day.

In terms of health benefits, cluster feeding provides your baby with increased calories and fluids, both of which are essential during high-frequency days. Meanwhile, risks or pitfalls can include mistaking cluster feeds for a medical condition. If you’re concerned your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk or formula, or that your baby is having other feeding problems, reach out to a lactation consultant and your pediatrician. They can help you problem-solve and address underlying health issues.

When Do Babies Cluster Feed?

Although every baby is different, cluster feeding during high-frequency days usually occurs at 2 to 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months of age.

“Cluster feeding is a natural rhythm of feeding for newborns to help them get the nutrients they need, but also to help stimulate milk supply,” says pediatrician Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

How Cluster Feeding Can Impact Your Milk Supply

In most cases, the more often you nurse, the more milk your body will produce.

“Cluster feeding increases your milk supply,” says Hedley. “There’s a lot of myths around how we should increase our milk. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to feeding your baby when they want to be fed.”

“Of course, there are rare medical exceptions, but you’re typically going to make as much milk as your baby wants,” she adds. “Cluster feeding is important because it shows our body that we have a newborn baby that needs to be fed very frequently.”

Cluster Feeding Formula-Fed Babies

Cluster feeding is most common in breastfed babies. However, it can occur in formula-fed babies, too.

“It certainly doesn’t happen in the same way as breastfeeding,” says Tobey Seidberg, M.D., a pediatrician in Syracuse, New York. “Bottle-fed babies generally eat every three to four hours. There may be a couple of times during the day where they eat every hour-and-a-half or hour, [which could be considered cluster feeding], but it’s not with the same kind of frequency, and they don’t tend to do that very long term.

This difference occurs because breast milk is harder to measure than milk from a bottle.

“A lot of babies cluster feed,” says Corky Harvey, a registered nurse, board-certified lactation consultant and co-founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury in Los Angeles. Babies who like to breastfeed for comfort often look like cluster feeders. They are content when they are nursing, whether it be for nutrition or pacifying.

It is easier for parents to tell the difference between sucking for food or comfort when a baby bottle feeds. “The main difference is that it’s easier for parents who bottle-feed to recognize that their baby has already had three ounces, so they stop feeding them. They already know exactly how much they drank. Breastfeeding parents can’t [always] tell how much their baby ate.”

How Long Does Cluster Feeding Last?

Newborn cluster feedings may feel endless, but they (thankfully) are just phases.

“Cluster feeding [during high-frequency days] usually only lasts a few days, max,” says Hedley. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t another ‘growth spurt’ around the corner, so sometimes people think it’s lasting weeks when it’s really just multiple growth spurts. They usually stop by age 1 and the really long, [intense] feedings typically curtail at about three months.”

Cluster feeding spurts usually start at birth while your body is transitioning from colostrum—the highly concentrated first milk you produce—to mature milk. In most cases, cluster feeding lasts for only a few days, but these feeding frenzies typically occur again at 2 to 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months, before tapering off around one year.

Pro Tips for Cluster Feeding

Cluster feeding can be an overwhelming experience for new moms, so it’s important to prioritize self-care.

“My biggest tip is to just to step back and realize that everyone goes through this,” says Hedley. “Take it 10 minutes at a time. Get through the first 10 minutes, then move on to the next 10. From a self-care perspective, have your home set up so that it’s very comfortable. Have a little basket with water, a phone charger and snacks set up so that when you’re cluster feeding, you have access to whatever you need.”

Some tips to keep in mind when your baby’s going through a cluster feeding stage:

  • Ask a family member or friend to care for your baby between feedings so you can shower or relax.
  • Set up a cozy nursing station with a comfortable chair and footrest.
  • Read a book or watch your favorite movie during late-night feedings.
  • Join a virtual or in-person support group for new moms.
  • Delegate chores like cooking, laundry and cleaning to others so you can rest while your baby is sleeping.

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How to Stop Cluster Feeding

While you can’t really stop cluster feeding, you have options when it comes to how you manage it.

“There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all kind of answer,” says Dr. Seidberg. “Some people are just going to say, ‘Well, it’s fine. I’m just gonna keep this baby strapped to me and do the best that I can do.’ Other people are going to say, ‘That’s absolutely not going to work for me. I’m giving you to your dad for an hour and I’m going to take a shower.’ It partly comes down to figuring out if your baby is feeding because they’re hungry or because it’s comforting.

You can choose to not engage in cluster feeding by breastfeeding by offering a set amount of your breast milk or formula in a bottle (a top-up), or offering a pacifier after breastfeeding. But if your baby is cluster feeding to increase your milk supply, you are potentially putting your supply at risk by not engaging in high-frequency days every now and then.

It can be hard to tell the difference between cluster feeding for comfort as opposed to hunger. Babies tend to associate moms with nursing, so, if you’ve already fed them and checked to make sure they have a clean diaper, try passing them off to another caregiver. “If it’s comfort, sometimes you need to get somebody else involved so you can get a break,” says Dr. Seidberg.

Do's & Dont's (Plus How To Do It Right)

What's in this post...

Are you busy with a cluster feeding newborn? This will help you know what to do so you’re not up all night feeding a baby every hour. 

Newborns are perfectly snuggly and sweet and warm and wonderful.

But it can be hard to survive.

If they won’t sleep well, don’t seem to be eating well, and are irritable due to gas pain, overtiredness, or even baby teething… then you can feel like you’re slowly starting to lose your mind from lack of sleep and complete world upheaval.

A common phenomenon with little ones… cluster feeding.

What is it?

Cluster feeding (n): A breastfeeding pattern when baby groups several feeding sessions in a short window of time. It can happen for a number of reasons (some purposeful, some not), which we’ll dive into below.

Some other names for this are topping up or tanking up (giving baby a bit more to make sure they aren’t hungry when they go to bed) or even split feeding.

Split feeding is used when you sort of divide up a feed into two so that baby gets what they need immediately, then some more again before going off into dreamland.

How babies cluster feed – 4 likely scenarios:

  1. Baby cluster feeds at night, but not during the day.
  2. Baby cluster feeds both day and night.
  3. Or baby snacks but never takes full long feeds.
  4. Baby cluster feeds sometime in the late afternoon/early evening period (5 pm to 11 pm) on purpose.

Rules of thumb while cluster feeding your newborn

Cluster feeding can really feel difficult or confusing, but I want to assure you that these newborns days are intense yet they will pass.

And the habits you start now can create a strong foundation then fade out naturally into a mutually beneficial routine.

Remember, during this time you may find your baby log comes in handy to refer back to.

Reasons cluster feeding works

So first of all, you’ll end up cluster feeding at some point in the day with your newborn.

Their tummies are tiny and they need to fill them up at regular intervals.

This is actually a good thing and you can use this feeding rhythm to your benefit in a way that means baby gets more sleep and you do too.

Read: End Baby’s Witching Hour — In 4 Simple Steps

If you are reading this, exhausted from excessive breastfeeding (which according to research is a common reason many mothers abandon breastfeeding altogether) then please know you don’t have to feed every hour around the clock to successfully breastfeed.

As a certified infant and child sleep consultant and mother of 5, I can attest to this.

Reasons Tanking Up Is Beneficial And Why Babies Do It:

  • Your baby gets lots of nourishment in a shorter period of time which is beneficial during the late afternoon/early evening hours when, depending on your personal stress levels, milk quality may be lower.
  • Baby can sleep longer stretches after cluster feeding periods.
  • Mom can sleep longer stretches because baby is sleeping longer stretches.
  • Milk supply can be kept up with regular feeding.
  • Cluster feeds help babies get through growth spurts by maintaining adequate milk supply.

Read: Dreamfeed: The Why, The How, & When To Stop

Watch my video on an important cluster feeding issue.

Hourly feedings at night: day night confusion?

If your baby cluster feeds at night, but not during the day then sweet baby probably has some day night confusion going on.

The goal is to make those cluster feeds during daytime hours so they’re sleeping longer stretches at night.

If baby wants to nap for 4 hours during the day… well… don’t let him!

Follow my newborn sample routine or do what works for you, but know that if you let baby sleep long stretches during the day he will be up more frequently at night.

Read: What To Do When Baby Is Feeding Every Hour (& Not Sleeping!)

Newborn Settling Guide

Tried-and-true *hands on* newborn settling strategies that even the most fussy (or wide-awake-sleep-refusing) newborns cannot resist!

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The way forward? 

Purposefully cluster feed your newborn in late afternoon and early evening and make sure baby is taking full feeds.

This means at least 10 minutes per breast if you’re nursing, often times twice that.

Read: Cocooning a Newborn & 7 Reasons Why it Can Be Good For The Family


You can tell when baby is no longer actively nursing but just remaining latched on in a few ways.

First, look at the muscles on baby’s cheek. If they are nursing it will be moving up and down. Next, discern whether baby is swallowing or not.

Then, look at baby’s chin, is it moving as it does during active sucking (aka nursing).

If none of these are happening baby is likely asleep and engaging in non-nutritive sucking.

Read: How To Fix Day/Night Confusion In 3 Nights Or Less

Cluster Feeding CHECKLIST

Use our checklist to use cluster feeding to your advantage without feeding every hour all day every day!

How to stop cluster feeding at night (if you’re ready)


Ain’t no mama want to be up every hour at night. The good news is you don’t have to be.

Even if you are feeding every hour through the night, you can shift that and begin getting longer stretches at night.

What’s the only way to stop cluster feeding at night?

Make sure baby is getting as much milk as they can throughout the day. 

Don’t let baby snack while nursing. 10 minute feeds throughout the day mean baby will be up all night because baby is hungry and needs milk.

When you start giving baby full feeds throughout the day (this will mean you’ll have to do jump through some hoops to keep baby up) and baby settles into a predictable routine then they’ll sleep longer stretches at night.

Read These While You’re At It

Purposefully cluster feed in the late afternoon period when the milk supply is at its lowest quality (4 pm onwards) so that baby’s tummy is as full as it can be.

This will promote deeper sleep.

Eventually, even if baby wakes frequently at night for feeds, if you are not giving long full feeds throughout the night baby will get it.

It’s super hard when your newborn is cluster feeding all night, but you will get there and it will get easier!

Read These While You’re At It

Are you feeding your newborn both day and night?

If you have a cluster feeding newborn both day and night there are only a few likely alternatives.

  • Milk supply is low and baby is starving.
  • Baby is going through a growth spurt and is starving.
  • Baby is only “snacking” and not taking full feeds or getting to the hindmilk rich in nutrients because he just takes a bit then stops.

The best way to help baby stop cluster feeding day and night is to determine which issue you’re having.

If it’s milk supply then continue feeding until your supply is up or supplement with formula (see a lactation expert).

Alternatively, if baby is going through a growth spurt then there’s nothing to do but wait it out and feed baby as much as possible to keep them full and get your supply up to meet the demand.

Newborn Feeding Chart

Use this simple printable chart to track your feeds to make sure baby is fed, your supply is up, and everyone is well.

What to do if baby only “snacks”

  • Keep baby awake during feeds by taking off their clothes except diaper. You can also rub their feet, cheeks, or hands with a baby wipe or keep trying to stimulate them to stay awake long enough to feed. You can put them on a soft blanket or tummy time mat and let them kick in their diaper until they’ve woken up, then continue feeding.
  • Try not to put baby down to sleep if they fall asleep while nursing unless they just won’t wake up. Keep trying to feed baby even if it takes a bit of time so they’ll get as much as they can.
  • Differentiate between active nursing and non-nutritive sucking, and let baby do one but maybe not the other.
  • Give the baby a pacifier (the pacifier I recommend that stays in baby’s mouth) if they wake and want to nurse right after having nursed a short time ago. They might just need to satisfy the sucking urge and this will help. Also, the next time they feed after this will mean they’ll take more milk and keep your supply up. “Snacking” can contribute to a lower milk supply because baby is never emptying a breast and getting the rich milk.

Eventually by doing those things baby will stop snacking and start taking fuller feeds which will naturally result in longer times between feeds.

Read: The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule: Week By Week For The Postpartum Period

Cluster feeding in the early evening

The prime time to have newborn cluster feeding sessions is the late afternoon early evening.

As I previously said, the milk supply can be lower in quantity and quality at this time due to the stresses of the day.

Because of this, feeding baby every 2 hours for a few hours will help keep your supply up, will keep the little one happy, and will set them up to sleep longer stretches at night.

Your evening routine might look something like this. 

4:30 p.m. Nurse and nap

6:30 p.m. Nurse and catnap (or skip nap)

8:30 p.m. Nurse and bed

10:30 p.m. Dreamfeed

By purposefully cluster feeding in the right time you’ll help everyone sleep more at night while keeping your precious one topped up on milk.


  • Feed every 1.5 to 2 hours during the early evening.
  • Give baby plenty of milk before their bedtime so they are satisfied and sleep longer.
  • Cluster feed during the DAY so you don’t find yourself having to cluster feed at NIGHT.
  • Drop the cluster feeds when baby is no longer interested in one of the feeds.

Remember, feeding at frequent intervals in the late afternoon early evening will not solve actual sleep problems, but it will help your little one have a full tummy.

Sleep issues might subside if they were hunger related.

Cluster Feeding CHECKLIST

Use our checklist to use cluster feeding to your advantage without feeding every hour all day every day!

Rhythms, Routines, & Schedules Pack

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Need sample routines for babies 6 weeks and older?

By now, you know how to handle the early days, but what after? Here is the good news: you’ve set your baby up for a foundation of success.

Now all you need to do is continue to find routines that work for you and your baby as they grow up and begin getting bigger and bigger.


After having 5 babies with 5 different personalities, I know a thing or two about finding a good schedule.

This is why I’ve created a book of sample routines and schedules for babies ages 6 weeks up to 5 years.

The book includes information on how long to let baby stay awake, how much play time is good for each age, what to do with baby when baby is awake but not quite mobile, and even how to manage toddler and baby joint routines.

Chapters covered in Rhythms, Routines & Schedules  include:

Section One: Sample Schedules

  • 6 Weeks to 3 Months Old
  • 3-6 Months Old
  • 7-9 Months Old
  • 9-12 Months Old
  • 12-18 Months Old
  • 2-3 Years Old
  • 4-5 Years Old

Section Two: Tips and Tricks

  • Tips for Managing the Day With Multiple Children
  • Daily Rhythms for an Only Child Ages 1-4 Years Old
  • Daily Rhythms for Multiple Small Children Ages 0-5
  • Sample Bedtime, Mealtime, and Playtime Routines
  • Tips for Keeping Kids Busy Throughout the Day

For more sample routines, mom tested and approved schedules for babies ages 6 weeks and up, check out Rhythms, Routines & Schedules right now.

Cluster Feeding FAQ

How long does cluster feeding last?

Cluster feeding typically will happen until around 4 or 5 months of age. Once baby is around 5 months (see the 5 month old schedule here) and they are eating solids, there isn’t as much of a need for cluster feeding.

Does cluster feeding increase milk supply?

If your supply is low and baby is frequently feeding, this will increase your supply. Milk supply and quality is typically lower in the late afternoon early evening and cluster feeding can help fill baby.

Can you overfeed a breastfed baby?

Babies need to eat when they are hungry. Too much “snacking” can mean that baby is getting a lot of the foremilk which is less nutrient dense and will contribute to more feeding. Solution? Full feeds with hindmilk for baby.

Is cluster feeding all day normal?

Yes and no. Babies can tend to feed every hour all day long if they aren’t getting enough milk or they are snacking.  If baby is feeding every hour all day long they’re not actually getting much food, they are using your breast as a snack bar. If you’re okay with this, then you’re good to go. And if not, focus on full feeds.

Is it normal for a newborn to breastfeed every half hour?

If babies take full feeds (nursing for 30 to 45 minutes typically) they won’t need food every half hour or even every two hours. If they snack they will feed more frequently.


  • Fatigue associated with breastfeeding is a major cause in why women stop
  • Excessive night waking is associated with increased maternal depression
  • Breast milk composition (specifically nucleotides) helps varies by time expressed, late evening feeding linked to more melatonin production in babies

Family Routines Reboot

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Breastfeeding after 1 month: what to expect

Do you know when breast milk production stabilizes? And how does the frequency and duration of feedings change as the baby grows? You will find answers to these questions in our recommendations for breastfeeding after the first month.

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Congratulations: You made it through the first month of breastfeeding. Your breast milk has reached full maturity 1 , its production stabilizes, and it leaks almost or not at all from the chest. Don't worry, it's not getting less milk, it's just that your breasts are better able to produce and store it now. 2 At the age of six weeks, your baby will begin to please you with his charming toothless smiles, and by two months you will already have 500-600 feedings behind you. With a favorable development of events, problems with latch on by this point will already be resolved, and you can simply enjoy the convenience and benefits of breastfeeding.

When does breastfeeding decrease?

"Normal" feeding frequency for babies aged one to six months varies considerably, with some needing four feedings a day, others asking to be breastfed 13 times a day. 3

“From the age of one month, the amount of milk a baby consumes per feed increases, so that he can go without food for longer,” explains Cathy Garbin, a recognized international expert on breastfeeding, “A baby’s stomach grows, so he eat more at one time. In addition, mature milk allows him to stay full longer.”

Feeding can last from 12 minutes to one hour -
the habits of babies vary so much! 3 But if the child is gaining weight and falls within this range, there is no cause for concern.

What is most surprising, no matter how often the baby eats, he consumes approximately the same amount of milk per day - both at one month and at six, when it is time to start complementary foods with solid food. 4

“However, sometimes the baby eats more and sometimes less, especially when he is unwell. It’s better to just listen to his needs,” Katie explains.

Is breast milk enough for the first six months?

Yes. Breast milk contains everything a baby needs for the first 90,023 six months of life—exclusively breastfed babies don't even need to drink more water! 5 Until about six months of age, a child's digestive system is simply not adapted to the digestion of solid food, and he will be able to drink cow's milk only after a year.

In addition, breastfeeding during this period prepares the child for further development. It strengthens the muscles of the mouth, develops the jaw and helps straighten the teeth 6.7 . All this will come in handy when the baby begins to eat and talk. And because what you eat and drink affects how your breast milk tastes, your baby discovers new tastes even before he starts eating solid foods. 8

In addition, when your baby is sick, your body produces breast milk that is
rich in antibodies that help fight infection. 9 In other words, milk continues to protect the baby for many months as he grows and becomes more active.

Breastfeeding is also very comfortable once you get used to it. Claudia, a mother of two from the UK, notes: “No need to sterilize a mountain of bottles, prepare formula, carry it all with you, warm it up - in general, breastfeeding turned out to be very convenient, especially when my babies grew up and we began to leave the house more often. ".

At what age does a breastfed baby start sleeping through the night?

Waking up at night is normal for babies. Most babies between the ages of one and six months consume a fifth of their daily milk requirement at night, so nighttime feedings should not be neglected if you want your baby to get the required amount of calories. 3

"It really depends on what you mean by 'sleep through the night'," says Cathy. "And it's better than waking up every two hours anyway! I have met infants who, starting at six weeks old, fell asleep at 19:00 and woke up at 7:00, but most continue to wake up frequently at night after this age. All children are different."

In Wales, a study of more than 700 infants showed that almost 80% of children aged 6 to 12 months wake up at least once a night, and 25% of them wake up three times or more. And it did not depend on what type of feeding the child is on - breastfeeding or artificial. 10

And if nighttime awakenings are unavoidable anyway, breastfeeding is at least comfortable! Maina, a mother of two from Australia, agrees: “You can even take a nap while feeding in the middle of the night - both the body and the baby do their job on autopilot. No need to plan, measure, sterilize anything - ready-made food at the right temperature is right in your chest. I think it's ideal."

My child wakes up more often. Perhaps he is hungry?

Around four months of age, a baby's sleep patterns change as they develop deep and light sleep phases like an adult. Because of this, he may wake up more often at night. “At four months, sleep is more of a problem than feeding,” Cathy admits. “It can be exhausting, but try to adapt and be patient.”

Some call this " a four-month sleep regression ", but "progress" is more appropriate here. From the outside it may look like a step back, but in fact the child is approaching an important stage of development. He learns quickly, begins to become aware of the world around him, his perception is sharpened and, perhaps, there is anxiety about being separated from his mother. Crying when waking up and being able to eat milk cuddled up to mommy’s chest is a way for a baby to calm down. 11–13

Resist the urge to “supplement” your baby with formula or start solid foods early
in an attempt to improve his sleep. Breast milk contains
hormones that make you sleepy and help you both relax
. Research shows that breastfeeding mothers actually sleep longer at night than mothers of formula-fed or mixed-fed babies
. 14

How does teething affect breastfeeding?

Teething usually begins around four months of age. When a baby has gum pain, he becomes restless, throws his chest and cries. All this, of course, is unpleasant.

However, breastfeeding can be an excellent sedative.
Studies have shown that babies who are breastfed
during the vaccination period cry less and forget pain more quickly. 15 Breastfeeding during teething can have the same calming effect.

An unpleasant side effect may be the child's attempts to try out his new teeth on the mother's breast. “Sometimes children flirt and bite their mother’s nipples. This can be felt in advance by how the behavior of the child changes when feeding: before biting, he removes his tongue, explains Cathy, “Usually this is not a problem and only happens a couple of times. It is enough to stop feeding, affectionately say that biting is not good, and the baby will soon leave this fun.

How to continue feeding if you have to be separated from the baby?

It happens that during the first six months, when the baby is still fully breastfed, the mother needs to be away for several hours - or even longer if she has to go to work or go away on business for a couple of days.

But this does not mean that you should stop breastfeeding. You can still feed your baby healthy breast milk - just express it and have someone give it to your baby when you're away. Here's Katie's advice:

“Start expressing milk a couple of days in advance, in small batches, 40-60 ml at a time. So you will have the necessary supply for the time of your absence, but at the same time the amount of milk produced will remain the same.

If you have to return to work, check with your employer about your daily schedule. Many mothers breastfeed their babies in the morning, evening and night, and pump milk at lunchtime to relieve discomfort and create a reserve for the next day.

This usually turns out to be much easier than one might think, and today many companies are well placed to do this, notes Cathy. “Breast pumps make it easy to solve this problem.”

Natalie, mother from the USA, shares her experience: “I feed Dylan as soon as he wakes up, and sometimes again before leaving for work, in order to maintain milk production and not lose contact with the child. At work, I pump twice the next day (in my absence, he eats two bottles of breast milk), and after work I rush home for the evening feed. I don't pump on the weekends - we resume regular breastfeeding."

Can breastfeeding continue after the introduction of solid foods?

When your baby begins to show interest in food and can sit up on his own - usually around six months of age - it's time to start solid foods. However, it is not necessary to stop breastfeeding, Cathy explains: “A baby’s iron stores during pregnancy are depleted by six months, so he needs additional sources of this element.

Start complementary foods with solid foods, but remember that breast milk remains a more important source of calories and nutrients until the baby is eight to nine months old. By this time, he will be eating much more solid food, but he will still need to breastfeed four to five times a day. By 12 months, the frequency of feeding may be two to six times a day. All babies are different, and many of them at this age are still getting half their daily calorie intake from breast milk.”

Don't forget that breast milk can be added to solid foods such as cereals and mashed potatoes so that the baby can taste the familiar taste. If possible, use milk expressed just before feeding (not thawed) and add just before serving to keep bacteria and nutrients alive. 16

You may be pressured by others to stop breastfeeding when your baby is six months old, but the longer you breastfeed or pump, the better for you and your baby.

How long can I continue breastfeeding?

“The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding along with solid foods until at least two years of age because it plays an important role in supporting immunity,” says Cathy. feels bad".

At eight months, the baby sometimes breastfeeds four times a day, but by one year old, the frequency of feedings can be reduced to two times a day. You yourself will understand which feeding regimen is more suitable for you and your baby. For example, Jane, a mother of two from the US, breastfed until the age of two: “I breastfed when I was at home - in the evenings and on weekends, when the children wanted to be close to me,” says Jane, “It helped a lot when they were sick . Breastfeeding has become my favorite form of comfort."

“When my son got a little older and bolder, he still often asked me to breastfeed him, as if to calm down and gain strength,” recalls Amy, mother of two children from Canada, “When he happened to hit or skin his knee , breastfeeding was a wonderful way to comfort him.

If your baby is over a year old and you are still breastfeeding, people around you will probably tell you that this way he will never wean. But if children are not pressured, they usually refuse to breastfeed themselves between the ages of two and four. 17

“I didn’t intend to breastfeed for so long, but as a result, I still breastfeed my four-year-old daughter and 22-month-old son,” says Suzanne, mother of two from the UK, “I breastfeed my youngest before and after work, and in I express milk on business trips. The eldest daughter likes to breastfeed a little before bed or when she is upset - this is a great way to make contact. When I get tired of it, I remind myself what great benefit and comfort it brings them. I now plan to pursue a baby-initiated end breastfeeding strategy — let them decide when to stop.”

For more information on what to expect and lots of tips and tricks, see our guide Breastfeeding Problems After the First Month.


1 Ballard O, Morrow AL. Human milk composition: nutrients and bioactive factors. Pediatr Clin North Am . 2013;60(1):49-74. - Ballard O., Morrow A.L., "Composition of breast milk: nutrients and biologically active factors." Pediatrician Clean North Am. 2013;60(1):49-74.

2 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. J 2012;41(1):114-21. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". J Obstet Ginecol and Neonatal Nurse. 2012;41(1):114-121.

3 Kent JC Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day. Pediatrics. 2006;117(3): e 387-395. - Kent J.S. et al., "Amount and frequency of breastfeeding and fat content of breast milk during the day." Pediatrix (Pediatrics). 2006;117(3):e387-95.

4 Kent JC et al. Longitudinal changes in breastfeeding patterns from 1 to 6 months of lactation. Breast Med . 2013;8(4):401-407. — Kent J.S. et al., Longitudinal changes in breastfeeding patterns from 1 to 6 months of lactation. Brest Med. 2013;8(4):401-407.

5 Almroth S, Bidinger PD. No need for water supplementation for exclusively breast-fed infants under hot and arid conditions. Trans 9 R Soc Trop Med 1990;84(4):602-604. - Elmroth C, Bidinger PD, "No need for supplementation of exclusively breastfed infants in hot, dry conditions." Trans R Sots Trop Med Hyg. 1990;84(4):602-604.

6 Victora CG et al . Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. 2016;387(10017):475-490. - Victor S.J. et al., "Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms and long-term effects". Lancet 2016;387(10017):475-490.

7 Peres KG et al. Effect of breastfeeding on malocclusions: a systematic review and meta - analysis. Acta Paediatr. 2015;104( S 467):54-61. - Perez K.G. et al., "The impact of breastfeeding on malocclusion: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Akta Pediatr. 2015;104(S467):54-61.

8 Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling's behavior. Pediatrics. 1991;88(4):737-744. - Mennella, JA, Beauchamp, GK, "Maternal nutrition affects the organoleptic properties of breast milk and infant behavior." Pediatrix (Pediatrics). 1991;88(4):737-744.

9 Hassiotou F et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl immunology. 2013;2(4). - Hassiot F. et al., "Infectious diseases of the mother and child stimulate a rapid leukocyte reaction in breast milk." Clean Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4).

10 Brown A, Harries V. Infant sleep and night feeding patterns during later infancy: Association with breastfeeding frequency, daytime complementary food intake, and infant weight. Breast Med . 2015;10(5):246-252. - Brown A., Harris W., "Night feedings and infant sleep in the first year of life and their association with feeding frequency, daytime supplementation, and infant weight." Brest Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2015;10(5):246-252.

11 Infant sleep information source. [Internet]. Normal Infant Sleep Development; December 2017 [cited 2018 Feb] - All about baby sleep. [Internet] "The development of normal sleep in a child", December 2017 [cited February 2018].

12 Baby sleep science. [Internet]. The-Four-Month-Sleep-Regression-What-is-it-and-What-can-be-Done-About-it. March 2014 [ cited 2018 Feb ] - The science of baby sleep. [Internet], "Four-month sleep regression: what it is and what to do about it." March 2014 [cited February 2018].

13 The Myth Of Baby Sleep Regressions – What’s Really Happening To Your Baby’s Sleep? [Internet]. Pinky Mckay ; December 2017 [ cited 2018 Feb ] - "The Myth of Baby Sleep Regression - What's Really Happening to Your Baby?" [Internet]. Pinky McKay, December 2017 [cited February 2018].

14 Kendall - Tackett K ET Al . The effect of feeding method on sleep duration, maternal well-being, and postpartum depression. Clinical Lactation . 2011;2(2):22-26. - Kendall-Tuckett K. et al., "Influence of feeding pattern on sleep duration, maternal well-being and the development of postpartum depression." Clinical Lactation. 2011;2(2):22-26.

15) Harrison D et al. Breastfeeding for procedural pain in infants beyond the neonatal period. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2014;10. — Harrison D. et al., "Breastfeeding for Relief of Medical Pain in the Neonatal Period." Cochrane Database of System Rev. 2014;10:CD11248

16 Czank C et al. Retention of the immunological proteins of pasteurized human milk in relation to pasteurizer design and practice. Pediatr Res . 2009;66(4):374. - Zhank S. et al., "Retention of immunological proteins in pasteurized milk depending on the technique and practice of pasteurization". Pediatrician Res. 2009;66(4):374.

17 Weaning from the breast. (2004). Paediatr Child Health, 9(4):249–253. - "Weaning from the breast" (2004). Pediatrician Child Health, 9(4):249–253.

Solve five breastfeeding problems after the first month

Expert advice on the top five breastfeeding problems you may experience after the first month.

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Cathy Garbin, child health nurse, midwife and lactation consultant:
Cathy, a mother of two, was a seven-year research fellow at the renowned Human Lactation Research Institute, founded by Peter Hartmann, providing support to breastfeeding mothers in clinics and at home. Today, she still works as a family counselor, and also conducts seminars for attending physicians and speaks at international conferences.

You and your baby have already fully established the process of breastfeeding and know what and how to do. It seems that all difficulties are left behind. However, some more surprises await you. The following are suggestions for dealing with breastfeeding problems that may arise later.

Problem #1. I need to be away from my baby

Whether it's social events, travel or treatment, at some point you may need to be away from your baby for a while.


  • Express milk so that someone else can feed the baby. Now that breastfeeding is established, you can express and store your breast milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Try different options to find the most convenient time for pumping in your daily routine. Some mothers manage to pump more breast milk in the morning when the baby wakes up after a long night's sleep. For others, it's best to express 60 minutes after feeding. Remember that everyone is different. Don't be discouraged if you don't get enough milk the first time: it's possible that you'll be able to express enough for one feeding in just two or three pumpings. As with feeding, it may take time for your body to adjust to pumping.
  • Take your pump with you, , if you plan to skip a feed. Even if you leave your baby with expressed milk, but will be absent for more than two hours, you will need to empty your breast. Pump at the same frequency as you would breastfeed your baby. This will support milk production and prevent discomfort. Express milk regularly throughout the day without waiting for your breasts to overflow. 1 Most electronic breast pumps are battery operated, so you don't have to look for an outlet nearby.

Problem #2. How to continue breastfeeding after returning to work?

You will probably have to leave your baby more often and for longer when you go to work, so it's especially important to find ways to continue breastfeeding and pumping that work for both of you. As mentioned above, you can build up a supply of breastmilk before you go to work and then pump regularly to support milk production, prevent discomfort, and make sure your baby has enough pumped milk the next day. Many companies now provide dedicated pumping rooms, and modern breast pumps work efficiently and reliably. If you have a regular work schedule or work part-time, you can still breastfeed your baby before and after work and at night.


  • Express as often as you would feed your baby. This will help maintain milk production and prevent discomfort, as well as reduce the risk of clogged milk ducts, mastitis and breast swelling. 1
  • Try double pumping. Double pumping not only takes half the time, but you get an average of 18% more milk than pumping from each breast in sequence. Milk is more nutritious and has a higher fat content. 2
  • Assemble and bring to work the set, which includes a breast pump, milk storage bags and, if desired, a bustier top for hands-free pumping. You will also need a cooler bag to carry your expressed milk.
  • Know your rights. In many countries, the law allows women to express and safely store breast milk at work. Discuss these options with your employer before returning to work. This will get you both ready.

Problem #3. It seems to me that the baby suckles only for pleasure

Sometimes you may feel that the baby takes your breast in order to calm down, and not to eat. However, do not forget that breastfeeding is not only nutrition, it is also comfort for your baby. "Soothing suckling" (when the baby suckles but does not eat milk) helps the baby to calm down and relax. Remember that a sudden increase in the frequency or duration of feedings may indicate insufficient milk production. However, if the baby continues to gain weight and you use enough diapers a day, this is unlikely.


  • Be patient. The baby needs your care - listen to his needs and support him. Usually, the period of soothing suckling does not last too long, but it allows the child to feel your love and protection - and this is the best thing you can give him.

Problem #4. I want to switch from mixed to exclusive breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is so good for you and your baby that it's worth trying to fight for it. However, if you have rarely fed lately, your milk production may have been reduced. If your baby has only been mixed-fed for a couple of weeks, you will most likely be able to restore enough milk. Contact a lactation consultant or medical specialist who will help you and give you the necessary advice. This is a very individual process that depends on many factors. In any case, do not despair, because every drop of your milk is important for the child.

Solutions 1.3

  • Increase milk production. Try to put the baby to the breast more often, because the more milk the baby consumes, the more milk is produced. You can also express milk additionally. As mentioned earlier, double pumping in particular helps increase milk production.
  • Be in physical contact with your baby as much as possible. As in the first days after childbirth, close physical contact with the baby promotes the production of the hormone oxytocin, which in turn triggers milk production. It will also make both of you feel more calm and relaxed.
  • Reduce the number of formula feedings gradually. Resist the urge to stop supplementing with formula right away. If you gave your baby formula after each breastfeed, start giving it every other time until milk production rises. Keep a close eye on the number of soiled diapers and weight gain during this transition period. It is likely that at first the child will ask for the breast more often, and this is absolutely normal.
  • Speak with a lactation consultant or healthcare professional. He will be able to help you and strengthen your confidence that your baby gets everything he needs.

Problem #5. My child has lost interest in the breast

If your child, who always ate with appetite, suddenly began to refuse the breast for no apparent reason, this is a false refusal, the so-called "strike". You may assume that he is ready to switch to solid foods, or that he does not like your milk anymore, but this is most likely not the case. It's just that the child develops vision, and now he is more distracted by the world around him. Or maybe something frightened the child during feeding, or he reacts to a violation of the regimen, perhaps he has a stuffy nose or teething. What you take for lack of interest may actually mean that your baby has simply learned to breastfeed more effectively and therefore takes less time to suckle.


  • Please be patient. False rejection is usually temporary and will go away after a few days. To provide the baby with the necessary nutrition during this period, give him expressed milk.
  • Find a quieter feeding area with as few distractions as possible. Baby is more likely to eat better if he can relax and focus on his chest.
  • Check in which position you feed. The baby may refuse to breastfeed if he is uncomfortable or unable to move his head to breathe during feeding.
  • Express milk to keep it flowing . You can try feeding your baby with expressed breast milk using the Medela Calma smart pacifier.
  • Do not start formula or solid foods. Supplementing with formula can lead to a decrease in milk production and will only worsen the situation. If your baby is regularly fed with expressed milk and is growing well, and the number of soiled diapers is normal, try not to worry. If the baby is less than six months old, you should not give him solid food: his digestive system is not yet strong and may not be ready for such a load.
  • Do not force-feed. Try to relax and be in skin-to-skin contact with your baby as much as possible, hug him and often offer the breast so that he can take it on his own. The release of oxytocin that body contact triggers will also help you pump. 4

Related content: Breastfeeding: what to expect after the first month


1 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. J Obstet , Gynecol , & Neonatal Nurs . 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Breast Milk Production". G Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121.

2 Prime DK et al. Simultaneous breast expression in breastfeeding women is more efficacious than sequential breast expression. Breast Med . 2012;7(6):442-447. - Prime D.K. et al., “During the breastfeeding period, pumping both breasts simultaneously is more productive than sequential pumping.” Brest Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2012;7(6):442-447.

3 Amir L. Breastfeeding managing ‘supply’ difficulties.

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