Cluster Feeding and Tips to Calming a Fussy Newborn | Dr. Amna Husain

In this video, pediatrician and lactation consultant Dr. Amna Husain explains tactics to calming a fussy newborn and shares the what and why behind cluster feeding! To see my other content, follow me- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dr.amnahusain/ Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@dr.amnahusain... ***The information in this video is intended to serve as educational information and can not be construed as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of you or your child. Content within this video is for information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor or your child's doctor.

Transcription

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Hi everyone. My name is Dr. Amna Husain, Board Certified Pediatrician, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and mom. Right now my newborn is napping in my usual filming place, so I've been booted over to our home office. I hope you enjoy the new ambiance, but today we're actually going to be talking about newborn behaviors, in particular, cluster feeding. I know just how frustrating this can be. Make sure you tune in for the rest of this video and I'll answer the most commonly asked questions.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
A lot of people who are not parents yet may wonder what is cluster feeding, and they might associate it with being something abnormal. Maybe you don't have enough milk, you're not able to satisfy your baby for some reason, or your child might be fussy for other reasons. But I want to assure you that first of all, cluster feeding is very, very normal. It can be incredibly frustrating though for the parent, because it happens usually in the evenings when your emotions are already run thin. And usually during a cluster feed a baby nurses, latches on, and then pulls off. Latches on, nurses a little bit, pulls off. They're a little bit uncomfortable, they might be very fussy for some reason, and you seem to think that it's because of you. Maybe you don't have enough milk, or something is going on with the baby, maybe it's your diet, you think the baby might be colicky. But I want to assure you that these are all very normal behaviors.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
There are soothing techniques that you can take in place of that, but before we get on to what you could do, I want to remind parents that cluster feeding may happen very commonly during a growth spurt. Let's discuss growth spurts. Common times for babies to have growth spurts are usually the first 7 to 10 days of life, somewhere between two to three weeks of life, later somewhere between four to six weeks, you may even have two growth spurts scrunched into that time period. Then I usually say that you'll have another growth spurt somewhere at three months, somewhere between four to six months, and then later on between nine months. Now you have to remember, these are ranges. Babies don't read calendars.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
For example, my newborn right now, she had her growth spurt closer to somewhere between 10 to 14 days of life, and now is going through another one closer to three to four weeks of life. Babies are not always predictable. These are generally set times, but there's some wiggle space in between there.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Similarly, the duration of a growth spurt can also vary a lot. It can be two to three days, or it can last as long as a week. When it does last a week, I can understand it can be very frustrating. What are the best ways to handle a growth spurt? Let your baby take the lead. What I mean by that is if your baby is showing signs of hunger, don't necessarily ignore it. Even though it looks a little different than what the schedule "might have been saying," at the time.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
In that case, let's say you've given a pacifier and you're finding out your baby is still very hungry, and not getting satisfied with the pacifier, or the usual techniques of soothing, and swaying them. In that case, make sure you're continuing to feed the baby. And especially if this is a behavior they're showing consistently, because they might actually be going through that growth spurt. By allowing them to nurse on demand, you're allowing your supply to regulate to what they need. That's really important, because remember nursing is a supply and demand cycle. If you have questions about that, I'm going to link an older breastfeeding video here where I explain how nursing and how milk supply works.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Now it's really important to remember that if you are a nursing parent, you have to take care of yourself because you might find that your appetite and your thirst increases at this time. But I won't pretend that other things don't increase. Frustration can definitely run high too. Especially because if you've been home with the baby all day, and then you're faced with this fussy, cluster nursing period, it can seem very overwhelming. There's other things that you can take into account, especially if you're, might be a parent of multiples and you can't necessarily sit down and nurse the baby, or coddle the baby, or rock the baby, at the times you need to, because you have to attend to maybe your other children.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Some of my favorite techniques are wearing the baby. I even did this when I had one child, just because you need your hands to be able to eat, or to be able to cook dinner, do just normal tasks around the house. I used to resort to wearing the baby. Sometimes even just having that closeness, not even necessarily nursing, can be really helpful.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
That being said, there are some wearable, softer, cloth slings or carriers that you can actually papoose the baby in and really be able to nurse them while you also have your hands free. I think if you're able to master this, that's awesome. I really was never able to with my first, and with my second I just haven't really had to yet. I'm using a structured carrier like Ergo, even when I'm home, during those fussy periods, just to hold baby to my chest and so I can still eat.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Speaking of soothing with touch, a great alternative is also something like bath time, or fitting in a massage. Often times, this period in the evening is a great time to be able to fit in a bath time routine, because it does calm the baby and switch up the change of pace a little bit.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Another thing that can be really helpful to switch up the change of pace, is allowing the other parent, perhaps Dad, to have some time with the baby. This is usually around the time when maybe Dad is returning home from work, and you can kind of just pass off the baby and allow them to deal with some of the fussies, walk around with them, get a change of scenery while maybe you go fit in a shower, or just some you time, because it is a very difficult time.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
Changing the scenery can be really helpful for the baby. I also try to fit in some evening walks at this time. Especially because if you're not yet cleared for exercise, or maybe you are cleared for exercise by your doctor, and walking is your favorite form, this is a great time to fit in a walk, also calm down the baby, and it's a good family activity. If you do have other children, you can take them on the walk with you.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
A lot of parents at this time might also fall into a pattern of taking the child for a drive to sooth them. Now, I'll admit that car rides can be soothing for many babies. For some babies, they aren't, but sometimes a car ride, the gentle motion of a car, or maybe even the noise of the engine serving as sort of, "white noise," can be very soothing and lull them to sleep. I caution parents on falling into this pattern because as your child gets older, you don't want to rely on car naps. They're just not as restful for the brain, and it's also just not very feasible as your child gets older to always take a car ride when your child needs a nap.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
But other forms of white noise can be really beneficial. There's white noise machines that are portable. I recommend you can even put these on your stroller while you're taking them for a walk. And in general just trying to avoid overstimulation. If your child is really cluster feeding and being very fussy in the evening, then you're going to want to avoid potentially loud parties, or trying to schedule things. I always tell parents, try to avoid over scheduling in the evenings, which I definitely understand is hard, especially if you want to do things as a family, and that's when both parents are home.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
It can be a little unpredictable, but sometimes in the early days when your baby is going through these fussy evenings, especially before they're three months of age, it's probably better to just try to keep your schedule a little flexible and a little open in the evenings. On that note, if you are a parent to multiples, this might be a good time to try to occupy your other children with something else so that they're not overstimulating the baby.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
I completely understand how difficult this is, as a mom to a toddler and a newborn, but it's something you might find really helpful if your toddler is really active and very loud, and potentially making the cluster nursing and that fussy period much worse.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
I hope a few of those tips were helpful. Again, don't be alarmed if your child does show these fussy behaviors. It's not your fault, not every baby has reflux, it's not necessarily your diet, it's not necessarily colic, especially if your baby's very happy during the day. It's so normal for a baby to be a little fussy in the evenings and sometimes during their growth spurt, or just in the evenings when they want comfort.

Dr. Amna Husain, MD:
I hope this video was helpful. If you like it, give it a thumbs up and make sure you subscribe because we'll be doing a lot more of content focused on newborn behaviors in the coming weeks. Bye.