It can be hard to tell sometimes whether baby is getting milk or just sucking for comfort. This post breaks down all you need to know if you’re wondering if baby is cluster feeding or comfort feeding.
If you’re breastfeeding nonstop all day long, especially in the early days, you may be wondering what’s going on.
Or maybe baby is feeding every hour all the time and you aren’t quite sure if baby is actually getting milk or if they’re just comfort feeding since its nice to be near mommy.
Let’s figure this out once and for all.
Is Baby Cluster Feeding Or Comfort Feeding?
If baby is feeding for hours at a time (or all day long seemingly) this is comfort feeding or sucking for non-nutritive needs. Baby is simply not constantly feeding over hours at a time. Babies who are hungry will empty one or both breasts in a feed, and then be done.
If your baby is feeding for a few minutes at a time, then falling asleep at the breast while gently sucking, they would likely do the same with a pacifier as they are doing with your breast.
This is called snacking, by the way, and will have you sitting in a sofa for months.
So your baby may be cluster feeding, or comfort feeding, or simply snacking at the breast then falling asleep and sucking because you are still offering the breast.
How to tell whether baby is getting milk
If you are feeding baby and the muscle in their cheek is contracting regularly and you hear a gulping sound, they’re clearly getting milk. If you can break the latch and remove them gently from your breast and milk gushes out, they’re clearly getting milk.
If they are limp at your breast and barely moving except gentle sucks, they’re just sucking but not in an effort to get a real feed.
If you can put a pacifier in their mouth and the suck is similar, this is a good way to tell whether they’re sucking for a feed or just comfort.
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Is comfort feeding a bad thing?
No, of course not!
The only time this gets a little tricky and moms want to move away from this is if baby will only rest while at the breast. Especially if you have other kids, toddlers in particular, you can’t sit on the sofa all day long nursing for 4 months.
I go into all the details about how to stop cluster feeding here, but here are a few quick pointers.
- Make sure baby gets a full feed and then stop feeding
- Offer baby a pacifier to suck for their non nutritive needs
- Feed and then keep baby awake for a bit before putting them in their crib drowsy but awake
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