You finally get on a roll with breastfeeding. It felt like it would never happen – then all of a sudden your sweet baby is breastfeeding well, is more efficient, even sleeping longer stretches. And then it happens – distraction.
Distraction sets in around 4 months or so. One day your baby is breastfeeding just fine. The next day every little noise makes him turn his head. Sometimes while still holding on to the nipple (not pleasant at all). Any noise. Is the tv on? Did the cat come in the room? Is the dog barking? Phone notification go off? Or maybe your baby just wants to stop and gaze into your eyes.
I admit, part of me loves this stage. Your baby’s brain is growing at an amazing rate and he is starting to recognize the whole wide world around him. There is so much to look at and so much to learn! It may seem like your baby isn’t feeding as much, may even seem as if she’s weaning, but that’s definitely not the case. You may have to start changing your patterns a little to accommodate your new routine. Take your baby in a dark, quiet room for feeds, limit distractions, get a nursing necklace…or just accept that your baby is enjoying everything that is happening around him and trust that he will get what he needs when he does eat.
Listen to more discussion about distracted feeding on this week’s episode of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast. Lots of good suggestions to help you through this next part of your breastfeeding journey!
Feeding a baby is all consuming in the beginning. Not just physically, but mentally as well. I think that comes as a real surprise to so many new families. Not only do babies eat often to grow, latching and nursing also fulfills a need to soothe, offer security and nurture. In the early days, it can be easy to forget (after all, you are running on little sleep) that feeding for your little one is not all about the food.
We are talking about the constantly nursing baby. Have you met that baby? I have met thousands of them. The confusing thing isn’t necessarily that they are feeding frequently; the confusing thing is all the conflicting information new mothers receive about WHY the baby is constantly feeding. There’s even a name for it – cluster feeding (if there’s a name for it, then it’s a thing, right?). Here’s the breakdown:
Cluster feeding is when the baby will nurse frequently over a period of time. Some families will notice that their baby is fussy in the evening and cluster feeding calms him down. He may nurse for a few minutes, doze off, wake 20 minutes later and want to nurse again. Or maybe it is happening in the morning, after several hours of sleep. During these frequent feedings it is really hard to remember that it is normal and expected for babies to do this, and not a supply problem or a feeding problem. You do not need to give additional bottles during this time. Sometimes it is more of the act of nursing – the comfort and security – that your baby is looking for.
Try to keep in mind that this is a temporary thing. Once your baby is a little older you won’t experience this as often as you will when they are newborn. This too shall pass.
Here is a little more info on cluster feeding.
Check out this week’s BadAss Breastfeeding Podcast for more on the constantly nursing baby!