Do babies sleep during cluster feeding
Why Babies Do It and How to Manage It – Dreamland BabySkip to content
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If you have a new baby who spends the entire evening or night attached to your breasts, never seeming satisfied no matter how many times you feed them, you’re probably wondering what’s going on. It's likely your baby is going through a period of cluster feeding...and it’s completely normal.
Cluster feeding is most common in younger babies and often presents itself in the evening and night hours. Here we’ll discuss more about what cluster feeding is, why your young infant requires so many feeds during a short time, and how to manage this exhausting time period with your hungry, little babe.What is cluster feeding?
Cluster feeding is when your breastfed baby nurses several times during a short window of time. With these back-to-back nursing sessions, it can feel like your baby is feeding non-stop. Formula-fed babies can cluster feed, too, but it is more common in breastfed babies.
There isn’t one reason that babies cluster feed, but it often signals the mother’s body to make more milk. If a baby isn’t getting as much breast milk as they need to get full, they will continue to nurse until they are able to get the nutrition that they need.
Growth spurts, as we write about here, are a time when a baby may be more apt to cluster feed. Typical ages during the infant stage that you may see these occur are 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks and 3-4 months. Older babies don’t generally cluster feed even when they are going through a growth spurt.
Are you looking for a better swaddle for your baby? Check out our weighted sleep swaddle as seen on Shark Tank.Why do babies cluster feed so much at night?
Cluster feeding can happen at any time, but it’s much more common in the evening and through the night. Probably not what you want to hear, right?! You can have a perfect day with your baby, where everything is following the “schedule” to a T, and all of a sudden 5 o’clock hits and your baby wants nothing else but to nurse.
Though it’s likely that your baby is cluster feeding due to a growth spurt or just requiring more milk from you to get full, it’s not always about nutrition. Babies also can be really tired in the evenings and nursing gives them comfort.
Though this isn’t true for all pairings, a baby may need to nurse from her mom more in the evening because she isn’t getting a full feeding from one session like she does at other times of days when the breasts are fuller. According to Lactiful, “A mother’s body typically produces more milk in the morning, and less as the day goes on. This is normal. Therefore, as evening nears it’s normal for baby to ask for more frequent feedings.”
Your baby’s need to cluster feed shouldn’t be a sign that you have a low milk supply. Instead nurse them as they need, and your body should respond by producing more milk over the course of the next several days.Benefits of Nightly Cluster Feeding
When you just fed your baby 30 minutes ago and they seem to be asking for the breast again, you may mistakenly think that hunger isn’t the issue. If your baby is upset and nursing calms them, then that’s your sign that they need to feed again. We know these back-to-back nursing sessions can be exhausting, but it’s important that you let them happen.
(If your baby still cries when you offer the breast, you may have a situation where your baby has colic. We recommend reading, “Helping a Baby With Colic: Identifying Symptoms and 10 Soothing Tips.”)
Encouraging cluster feeding when they need it will ensure your baby has enough milk. It will also allow your body to start producing the milk required to keep up with your baby’s nutritional needs going forward. Cluster feeding is temporary, so managing it in a way that keeps you both as relaxed through it as possible, the better.7 Tips to Manage the Nightly Cluster Feedings
Cluster feeding can run you ragged if you let it. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, you’re not alone.
When you’re stuck in the phase where your baby is constantly latched to you it’s difficult to imagine a life beyond that where you have your body and more time back. But it is temporary - usually only lasting on and off for a month or two. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is accept that your baby will need to cluster feed and then focus on managing it in a way that allows you to stay relaxed through it as much as you can.
We’re not going to sit here and tell you to enjoy every moment, but we will tell you that setting realistic expectations for this time will set it up to be a much more positive experience.
1.) Expect It and Plan Ahead
Crossing your fingers and hoping this is the night that your baby decides to stop cluster feeding is only going to serve to let you down. It’s much better to go into your day expecting your baby to cluster feed as they have been and this will help you prepare for when that hour comes.
It’s much better to set realistic expectations for the situation so you don’t end up overwhelmed and frustrated. That way, instead of eyeing the clock and anxiously holding your breath, you can instead plan that time according to your baby’s needs. For example, if you know that your baby typically cluster feeds between 6 and 8, plan to set up shop on the couch during that time. Reframe this time as when you’re not able to get anything accomplished to a time you can just relax and provide comfort to your baby.
2.) Vary Your Breastfeeding Positions
Because your baby latches on so many times during a cluster feed, your nipples can take a beating. Not only do you want to be taking care of your breasts by using lanolin and nursing pads, but changing up the position you feed your baby in can help, too.
Changing nursing positions switches up the angle that your baby is taking your breast, meaning there’s less likelihood of a lot of irritation building in one spot. If you do find the pain to be unbearable, however, it’s important to reach out to a lactation consultant.
Side-lying breastfeeding is a great option. This allows you to lay in your bed to nurse, helping you to relax during these times when your baby won’t let you do anything else but nurse them.
3.) Keep Up with Baby's Bedtime Routine
The last thing we want is for you to feel guilty if you miss any steps of your bedtime routine. But it is important to do as much as you can between your baby’s feeds. This will continue to signal to your baby that nighttime is for sleeping, ensuring that when your baby’s cluster feeding period is over they’ll move right back into their old routine.
On top of that, your baby has come to expect their bedtime routine and it’s calming for them. Sticking with your baby’s bedtime routine is a great way to get them relaxed and ready for bed as you give them those last feeds of the day...which can extend the time before they’ll wake up to feed again.
To calm your baby at night we recommend:
- Swaddling in a Dreamland Baby Weighted Swaddle (or a Weighted Sack if your baby is already rolling over) - the all-over quilted weight of this unique sleep sack will induce feelings of calm for a baby as they top off their milk for the night and prepare for sleep
- Turning out the lights - the stimulation of light may keep your baby up and feeding, which is why we recommend doing later evening cluster feeds in your baby’s dark room
- Singing or using white noise - Utilizing music is a great way to calm your baby as we discuss in this article
Use a Dreamland Baby Weighted Swaddle or Sack to calm your baby during cluster feeds so they'll fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
4.) Try Baby Wearing
Your baby’s need to cluster feed isn’t always about getting more calories. Sometimes they just want to be close to you or have become overstimulated from the day. (It may even be that they need to be laid down for a catnap.)
If you’ve attempted cluster feeding but your baby still seems unhappy, you may want to try wearing your baby through the evening hours. If you utilize a carrier that positions your baby in a way that they can still breastfeed (the Baby K’Tan is great for this), this allows them to cluster feed at their leisure or pull off when they’re no longer hungry. Wearing your baby can get you through some tough evenings - it keeps your baby happy and you’re able to accomplish what you need to get done.
5.) Prep Dinner in the Morning
Your baby may be one of the many who insists on being at the breast starting in the early evening all the way until bedtime. This can make getting dinner ready difficult if that task falls on you. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to have dinner ready ahead of time.
Making Crock-pot meals in the morning that are ready to spoon out will make this time of day much less stressful - especially if you have other little mouths in the house to feed. At the very least, having everything chopped and ready to go will cut down your dinner making time, meaning you’ll have more time to be with your baby. This will help ensure you get fed, too - because if you’re not taking care of you first, it’s very hard to give the best care you can to your little one.
6.) Utilize a Dream Feed
If you have a baby who is frequently waking up at night to feed, utilizing cluster feeding sessions in the evening alongside a dream feed before you head to bed is a great way to help your baby sleep longer stretches at night.
Essentially, you'll feed your baby one last time right before you go to bed. This will likely mean getting them out of their crib and getting them to stir just enough that they'll take a full feed. That's the gist, but we have an entire post about how to dream feed here.
A dream feed will help top your baby off one last time before bed and will reduce the number of times they'll need to feed in the middle of the night.
7.) Take a Break
Even for the most flexible, easygoing moms, cluster feeding can be a lot. It's exhausting feeling like you're doing everything you can to satisfy your baby and they're still hungry. Remind yourself that it's temporary helps, but in the moment it feels like it will never end.
It's important that you give yourself a break, even if it's short. Pass your little one off to your partner and take a bath or go for a walk. You'll want to avoid giving a bottle simply because in order for your milk supply to increase as your baby requires, you'll need that breast stimulation from the cluster feeds. But try to utilize any spare time between feeds to let chores go and give yourself a little "me time" or take a little nap. This will go along way with staying positive even when your baby needs to feed multiple times in the evening or overnight.
How long does cluster feeding last?
Cluster feeding is normal behavior for newborns and typically happens during growth spurts. So while your baby used to feel satisfied in a more predictable pattern (around every 2-3 hours throughout the day), expect more back to back feedings at around 3 weeks old, 6 weeks old, 3 months and 6 months. Keep in mind that every baby is different, so these dates are not one size fits all. But as growth spurts occur, it means that their little brains and bodies are developing, and that extra feeding helps.
In terms of how long a cluster feed might last, well… you may start to feel like a feeding machine. It could be as much as every half hour and/or for longer periods of time, more frequently. But the more your baby eats, the more your milk supply will increase and eventually, things will feel more “normal” again.
What ages do babies cluster feed?
Babies usually cluster feed when they are experiencing a growth spurt. While every baby is different and reaches milestones in their own time, it’s likely that growth spurts happen at around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. Growth spurts really can happen at any time and will usually last a few days each time.
How often do newborns cluster feed?
In those early days and weeks of parenting, it may seem like all you’re doing with your newborn is watching her sleep, poop, and eat… and that may actually be the case. A newborn eats at least every 2 hours or so, and spends a good 10-15 on each breast. This averages out to around 20-30 minutes per meal (this includes if you’re bottle feeding). So while not necessarily considered a cluster feed, your newborn will eat a LOT in the beginning as they grow, develop, and get used to life outside of the womb.
Why do babies cluster feed at night?
Some babies cluster feed at night not because they’re hungry, but because it’s comforting. Since feeding is also frequently a part of the nighttime routine, the combination of skin-on-skin contact, eating, and snuggling can be soothing to them which can help them fall asleep for a longer period of time.
Some parents feel that their milk isn’t coming in during evening hours as much as it did during the day, so babies may take longer to nurse. Don’t let this worry you! The more you nurse, the more your milk supply will increase so baby will get the extra milk they need.
Do babies sleep longer after cluster feeding?
Some babies may sleep longer after cluster feeding because they’re going through a growth spurt. This can feel exhausting – to both mom and baby! So a little extra zzz’s due to cluster feeding is a good thing.
When do you stop cluster feeding?
By the time your little one reaches the 6-month mark, chances are they’re done with cluster feeding. Remember, every baby is different and develops at their own pace, so don’t worry if she wants to keep cluster feeding for a few more weeks. Of course, if you’re concerned at all about how much, how little or how frequent she’s eating, please discuss with your pediatrician.
How do you break cluster feeding?
It’s important to remember that there’s a reason your baby is cluster feeding in the first place. It’s because the growth spurt they’re experiencing requires more food to help baby develop and grow. This can be stressful as you may start to feel like a feeding machine. Remember to give yourself a break, rely on your partner or friends/family for support, and practice self-care when you can. Cluster feeding typically doesn’t last past 6-months as older babies don’t generally cluster feed when they are going through a growth spurt.See our other favorite posts for further reading:
- Weighted Sleep Sack Safety and How It Will Help Your Baby Sleep
- How To Stop Startle & Moro Reflex Without Swaddling
- The Best Wearable Blankets
- How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Nursing
- Best Swaddle for Newborns
- Signs It’s Time to Stop Swaddling Your Baby
- Are Sleep Sacks Safe for Babies Who Can Roll Over?
- How to Get an Overtired Baby to Sleep
- How to Wash & Clean Your Dreamland Baby Sleep Sack
- How to Stop the 45-Minute Intruder During Your Baby's Naps
- How To Swaddle Your Dreamland Baby
- Baby Napping Close to Bedtime and How to Do It Right
- Know the Facts: What's Safe and What's Not for Baby's Tummy Sleep
- How Should A Sleep Sack Fit?
16 of the Best Christmas Gifts for New Parents
6 Reasons Why Your Baby May Be Sleeping More and Eating Less
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. It’s like you are focused on being so heavily pregnant and making it to birth and then… in an instant you have a tiny person that is so perfect.
And dependent on you.
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:
- Baby cluster feeds at night, but not during the day.
- Baby cluster feeds both day and night.
- Or baby snacks all day but never takes full long feeds.
- 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. You certainly don’t need to keep track of anything, but organized mamas often feel comforted by this. Knowing that baby is getting enough milk and sleep throughout the day.
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.
- Your baby is less likely to wake up early from a nap or night sleep due to hunger.
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 my week by week newborn schedule and 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.
Lots of lengthy daytime naps lowers baby’s sleep need. A baby only needs so much deep sleep in a 24 hour period and if he’s getting it during the day… he won’t 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!
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
Easy to implement routines, rhythms and schedules from birth through school-aged kids to help you streamline day-to-day life with kids, including a step-by-step guide for getting started.
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
Take our 3 day challenge to create life-giving family, child, and self-care routines.
Is it possible to sleep with a child? | Health | HEALTH
Often the reasons for not breastfeeding are the so-called lack of milk and the mother's reluctance to get up at night to feed her baby. But there is a very simple way to solve these two problems at the same time - this is a joint dream of mother and child.
Sleeping together = breastfeeding for a long time
Co-sleeping helps to establish and maximize breastfeeding. The woman is so arranged that the maximum concentrations of prolactin, the hormone responsible for the formation of milk, are formed in her body at night while sucking the baby. Stimulation of the nerve endings in the skin of the areola sends a signal to the brain, which, acting on the pituitary gland, leads to an increase in the production of prolactin. Most of all, prolactin is formed during the night (and mainly in the period from 4 to 8 in the morning) sucking the baby. This means that when a mother sleeps with her baby and he is applied to the breast an unlimited number of times, sometimes without even waking her, there will most likely not be any problems with lactation. Mom, as well as the child, receives regular stimulation of the skin - a necessary condition for normal lactation. A baby who sleeps next to her mother clings to her for much longer than a baby who is constantly put off. A mother who constantly receives signals from the warm skin of her baby does not have to worry about the amount of milk - her hormonal system always has a powerful additional stimulus. And if a woman never feeds a baby at night or puts it on once (usually at 6 am), gradually milk production begins to decrease (due to insufficient stimulation of prolactin). It is not possible to feed a child for a long time under such conditions. In most cases, women notice that milk begins to be sorely lacking by 1.5-3 months after childbirth. That is why breastfeeding consultants around the world strongly advise mothers to sleep with their babies. nine0003
Sleeping together = getting enough sleep
Sleeping in the same bed with the baby allows the mother to have a good night's sleep. After all, if the baby sleeps with his mother (with his parents), then he wakes up much less often than a baby sleeping in his crib. Why is this happening? The fact is that there are two phases of sleep - superficial (paradoxical) and deep. It has been proven that in a newborn child, 80% of all sleep falls on the surface, in an adult - only 20%. In superficial sleep, the child sleeps very sensitively. And if the mother is not around, the baby may wake up from anxiety, because he does not feel safe. Mom at this time may be in a phase of deep sleep, from which it is more difficult for her to get out and more difficult to fall asleep later. And when sleeping together, even if the child woke up, the mother does not need to get up to lull the baby: just pat him on the head, hug him, wrap him comfortably in a blanket or say something soothing. Observations of many nursing women have shown that over time, the dreams of a mother and a child sleeping in the same bed are synchronized, they wake up at about the same time. The mother's body is rebuilt: her dreams become shorter, but also deeper, which allows her waking up more often than usual, but at the same time having a good rest. In addition, the hormone prolactin relaxes the mother and sometimes causes drowsiness, so she usually rests well, even while breastfeeding. Also, prolactin and related hormones suppress ovulation. Thus, breastfeeding prevents the onset of a new pregnancy, and feeding at night is especially important for this effect. nine0003
Sleeping together = safer
By the way, when a baby sleeps separately, even if he does not wake up, he breathes evenly - in general, does not give mom any reason to worry, the woman still gets less sleep - subconscious anxiety for the child interferes. And she's justified! Scientists have proven that the so-called sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS occurs much more often in babies who sleep ... separately from their parents, in their own crib. Renowned researcher of childhood sleep, Dr. James McKenna, points out that infants are characterized by periods of apnea - a brief stoppage of breathing. When the baby sleeps with his mother, he is almost always in a superficial sleep, and the mother - even sleeping - almost unconsciously controls the baby's breathing and encourages him to breathe further with her movements. And a child who sleeps alone, when breathing stops, may not find the strength to get out of a state of deep sleep. In addition, you have probably heard stories more than once about how a child left alone in his crib and even in another room, due to a fall from the bed (high sides do not save grown-up babies from this) received serious injuries. nine0003
Sleeping together = healthy development of the child
For an infant, sleeping next to his parents is, first of all, the satisfaction of his physiological needs. The baby is not in danger of hunger, as he can suck mother's milk at any time. The child will not overcool, because there are warm mom and dad nearby. The inseparable stay of the mother next to the baby creates a favorable background for the work of his body. For many months before the birth, the baby lived in unison with his mother, therefore, even after birth, her breathing and heart rate are stimulating factors for the smooth functioning of the heart and breathing of the child. nine0003
A study by William and Martha Serze (parents of eight children, pediatricians with 20 years of experience) illustrates this point perfectly. A somatically healthy child (Lauren's own daughter, age 3 months) was hung with sensors and put to sleep in her crib. They took (breast) for feeding, calmed and again put to bed. There were 53 cases of respiratory and heart rhythm failures in 6 hours outside the period of contact with the mother (and more than 150 episodes of a drop in blood oxygen levels). Potentially (in a weakened child) they could be dangerous or simply aggravated. The next night's sleep was with my mother in bed. ZERO failures. Blamed it on a hardware error. Next night "in half". 3 hours in bed, then the father shifted the mother's daughter. While the child was sleeping a meter away from the mother, the registration of failures was clear (28 registered anomalies). After 15 minutes of being in the mother's bed - ZERO. Perfect heart rate, perfect breathing. nine0003
It turns out that co-sleeping with the mother is also important for the proper development of the baby's brain. Winnicott, a psychologist known for working with children and their parents, points out that a child of this age, left alone, either cries - because he does not feel comfortable and safe enough to fall asleep - or due to the stress of loneliness, he quickly falls into a deep sleep. And in deep sleep, the development of the brain does not occur, it develops only in superficial sleep, the so-called paradoxical. Interference with these rhythms, established by nature, does not go unnoticed. nine0003
There is a popular opinion: a child who sleeps with his parents will never learn independence and will be too dependent on adults; co-sleeping also perversely affects sexual development. However, these claims are highly controversial. Undoubtedly, another thing is: sleeping together with parents provides the child with psychological comfort, creates a feeling of safety and security in the crumbs, that is, it forms confidence in the world around and a positive outlook on it. And these qualities are the basis for the formation of a healthy personality. Sleeping with parents is a natural need of the baby, worked out over the centuries of evolution, which is relevant in the first years of his life. Practice shows that if she was satisfied, then after 3-4 years, children independently and easily leave the matrimonial bed. But a child who was taught from birth to a separate bed, it is likely that he will begin to ask for parents at an older age. And in this case, the big question is when and how easily such a baby will leave the parental bedroom. Or such a child will look for a replacement for the missing emotional contact with the mother - here, indeed, parents will have to face the child's excessive attachment to them, whims, and in the future - alienation, misunderstanding and other psychological problems that have grown like a snowball. nine0003
Another refutation: the presence of a child in the bed of mom and dad does not mean the end of their intimate life! Parents can go to another room, or show imagination in choosing a place for intimacy, or simply put the baby in a crib or stroller for a while, and when he wakes up, return the baby to himself.
Still, sometimes a mother, even a positive one about co-sleeping, has problems due to inexperience: she wants to sleep next to her baby and breastfeed him during the night, but cannot find the right position, or the breast size is too large and because of this, it is not possible to feed lying down, either the mother has problems with the shape of the breast and inverted nipples, or the mother does not know how to change breasts for feeding without turning over from side to side. For these problems, you can call a lactation consultant. nine0003
There are several general rules for co-sleeping with a child:
- the bed should be fairly hard and wide;
- if the child sleeps on the edge, some kind of side is needed so that the child does not fall;
- dressing and covering the child should be easier, because he is warm from mom and dad;
- the pillow should be far enough away from the child's face;
- do not sleep with a child after taking alcohol, drugs, strong drugs; nine0003
- the child should know that he can sleep with his mother and adapt to this;
- the mother should be able to feed comfortably lying down;
- a mother should be able to sleep with a child and rest at the same time.
All this does not happen at once, spontaneously, by itself. In practice, the adaptation takes from 2 weeks to 1.5 months - in the event that you sleep with the child from birth (or start immediately after the hospital). If mom already had a baby with whom she slept together, she adapts faster. For a mother with many children, such behavior is natural and there is no need to adapt. nine0003
At the end of the article, I would like to quote a mother’s statement from the Milk Rivers breastfeeding support group forum:
Recently, there was a radio broadcast where there was a conference with an eminent psychologist, whose advice was implied unconditional. Everything that she said was so rosy and fair, she talked about the need for constant joint activities with the child: no matter what happens in the family, adults and children cope with it side by side, and that there should be no deception, because. if adults allow themselves, then the child will allow himself to lie. The whole theme of the program was aimed at the formation of mutual understanding, trust and harmony in the family. nine0062
But then came the question about co-sleeping. The answer was: "The door to the parent's bedroom should always be tightly closed, the child should sleep in another room, the parents should rest." I immediately felt so sorry for the little man, abandoned in a lonely room, where he, with the blanket thrown back helplessly, quietly cries. But that's how often they put their kids to sleep separately, and even in another room. What cold cynicism sounded in the psychologist's advice! As if the physiological and psychological needs of the little human being are irrelevant. nine0062
I can't even imagine my treasure separately! He, waking up at night, checks to see if I'm around, stroking the pillow with his hand and finding my hair, calms down and falls asleep again. And how pleasant it is to inhale the smell of children's hair, listen to the sweet sniffing of the nose and hug tiny heels with the palm of your hand! I am for co-sleeping with a child!
The thoughtful reader will probably wonder why, despite such an ideal picture, co-sleeping has so many opponents? In our opinion, the best answer to this question is James J. McKenna in his article "Culture's influence on infant sleep"
The main message of this article, backed up by many large and serious studies, is that co-sleeping is part of a larger relationship system that influences adult personality traits. And each culture, based on its ideas and demands, tries to form character traits that it considers necessary in its society with the help of co-sleeping.
The researcher mainly makes comparisons between Japanese and American culture. In Japan, where parents and children sleep together, interdependence and group harmony are valued. American children are taught to be self-reliant and individual by making them sleep alone. (Caudill and Weinstein). nine0003
However, in the American approach, it turns out that parents cannot appreciate the fruits of their upbringing through separate sleep:
how solitary sleep in infants is associated with early independence is inaccurate and misleading. Recent systematic studies provide evidence that contradicts conventional wisdom about solitary childhood sleep. Consider the following data:
“A cross-sectional in-depth study (Heron) found the following trend: children who “never” slept with their parents were less controllable, less happy, and more likely to throw tantrums. Moreover, the scientist found that those children who were never allowed to sleep with their parents were more shy than children who always slept in their parents' bed all night long.
“Crawford found that women who slept with their parents as children had higher self-esteem than those who did not sleep with their parents. Co-sleeping appears to promote confidence, self-esteem, and intimacy, likely reflecting parental acceptance of the child (Lewis and Janda 1988)".
“In England, Heron found that single-sleeping children are less controllable (according to parents), more difficult to endure failure, and also more dependent on parents than co-sleeping children!”
“In the largest and most systematic study to date of 1,400 people from five different ethnic groups in Chicago and New York, Mosenkis (34) found many more positive adult examples among those who slept with their parents as children. , among virtually all ethnic groups (African Americans, Puerto Ricans from New York and Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexicans from Chicago). Among all the groups that the scientist studied, one quality stood out in particular: adults who slept with their parents as children unanimously expressed general satisfaction with life. nine0003
It seems to us that the highly recommended separate sleep in our cultural environment is a continuation of the cultural environment of the Soviet period, where a mother was not needed, a working woman was in high esteem. The most interesting thing is that the Soviet culture of raising children in our country has been replaced by American methods of education. The principle of their separate sleep is described above.
In general, think for yourself, decide for yourself. After all, only you can pick up the key to the relationship with your children. Good luck to you! nine0003
The article uses materials from the site breastfeeding. org.ua,
James J. McKenna Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Maternal and Child Sleep Behavior University of Notre Dame “The impact of culture on the biology of infant and child sleep. How to Create a Comprehensive Model in the Science of Baby Sleep.,
and also books by D. V. Winnicott “Little Children and Their Mothers”, Library of Psychology and Psychotherapy, Issue 52, M .: “Class”, 1998
See See also:
- The third is not superfluous. What difficulties do young parents face? →
- Wounded childhood. Is your baby under supervision? →
- How to become a foster parent? →
Myths and the truth about the sleep of a child up to a year old
If we are talking about norms, then up to 4 months, until the child's sleep is not structured, everything is normal. After 4 months, all awakenings should be associated with feeding. From 4 to 6-7 months it is 2-3 feedings at night, from 6 to 8-9months, these are 2 nightly feedings; after 9 months, a full-term baby who is gaining weight well does not need to be fed. If there are more feedings, then you can "work" with them and eliminate them.
Problems begin when mother has "claims" for sleep. For example: frequent nighttime awakenings, daytime sleep lasting less than an hour, the need to extend daytime sleep, when the child slept for 40 minutes and woke up, he did not sleep, and the mother again needs to take some action to put the baby back to sleep. Long laying is also a common problem. They want to go to bed. With all this, consultants on children's sleep work. nine0003
If a mother is worried about her child's sleep, does she immediately turn to you?
If a mother is not satisfied with something in the process of a child's sleep, then first of all she goes to a pediatrician, a neurologist and complains about the child's sleep! Doctors diagnose and identify physiological pathology that interferes with sleep. If there is no pathology, then this is a behavioral problem. The child has some habits that interfere with good sleep. This is what we, the consultants on children's sleep, work with.
Often the responsibility of getting up and feeding at night is a woman's duty, considered as the "mission" of a good mother. But the baby's dad can help too, can't he? nine0123 How dad can help. Find a specialist, give him money, take on some of the nightly awakenings. Mom is pumping into a bottle. Dad feeds some sleep from this bottle or early in the morning, and mom goes to sleep. This is especially true in the first period of up to 4 months, while the mother is recovering from childbirth, or she has a serious psychological state, the likelihood of depression. At this point, it is very important to get enough sleep. But, unfortunately, in Russian society, mothers are more often not ready to ask for and accept help. They are quite satisfied with the position of the victim "I do not get enough sleep", "my mother suffered, so it must be so. " Although these sacrifices are useless. nine0003
Is it true that a child under one year old may not get enough sleep?
Yes, it is. Not only the amount of sleep is important, but also its quality. The quality of sleep is affected by its fragmentation. Intermittent sleep is of lesser quality than uninterrupted sleep. Mom does not get enough sleep in the morning, because she got up 12 times to the child, the child also suffers from lack of sleep. Lack of sleep, improper distribution of sleep during the day, "overwalking" leads to overexcitation, hence whims, long laying down, etc. nine0003
If a mother stops breastfeeding (hereinafter - breastfeeding), will she get rid of nocturnal awakenings?
I can definitely say that sleep and breastfeeding are not related to each other. This is a myth of myths that you will complete breastfeeding and the baby will sleep more, wake up less for breastfeeding. I have a lot of clients who feed their babies with formula, but the problems are still the same. The problem is that a) the mode is incorrectly built and b) the presence of an association for sleep. When the breast is an association for sleep - the baby falls asleep during feeding, it seems to the mother that if she removes the breast, then he will not wake up to fall asleep again with the breast in his mouth. When mom removes her breasts, he should think about what he gives in return. If a pacifier, then the child will ask for a pacifier. She wakes up, the nipple is somewhere in the blanket, she starts crying and calling for her mother to find her. If, instead of a pacifier, mother will rock, the baby will wake up and wait for motion sickness. The situation will change only if the child learns to fall asleep on his own, without outside help. Taking a comfortable position, finding some resources to relax and calm down. He himself is able to prolong his sleep. If the mother wants to keep breastfeeding and improve the baby's sleep - please, no either-or. It is important to separate processes.