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Thread: baby is an extremely frequent eater

  1. #1

    Default baby is an extremely frequent eater

    My baby is 15 weeks old and has been a very frequent eater since a few days after his birth. Sometimes it's hourly, that's our normal. When he eats every half hour, I call it cluster feeding, but that happens so often that I think I'm just calling it that to try to be less embarrassed about feeding him so often. Today was every half hour.

    He only eats for about 5 minutes per feeding, usually, and only on one side. The exception is his bedtime feed, which usually lasts for about half an hour, but is still only on one side. I burp him and try to get him to take the other breast, or to take the one he came off of, but he seems disinterested, and if I push it, he'll start screaming. If I try to delay feeding him, that will also get him screaming.

    He generally seems happy otherwise. He does spit up a lot. He generally does not fall asleep while feeding, although it happens sometimes during his bedtime feed. He sleeps well during the night. He goes to bed around 7 pm, wakes up once or twice between then and around 4 am, and then he'll often start waking up hourly for feedings until morning. He gets up for the day around 7 am. He takes 3 or 4 naps during the day, but they're usually only about half an hour. I've noticed before that regardless of how long he's been asleep, he'll wake up from a nap for his feeding when it's been an hour since the last feeding.

    He has gained weight well. Born 6 pounds 6 ounces, currently a little under 15 pounds. He's a prolific pooper.

    What's wrong? Why am I feeding so frequently?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    Nothing's wrong, mama. Your baby is normal, and you are doing a great job responding to his cues and feeding on demand! Different babies have different feeding patterns, but in general, breastfed babies do tend to have frequent, small meals - as compared to formula-fed babies, who might eat larger, less frequent meals. But even amongst breastfed babies, there are some that might go 2 or 3 hours between feedings, and others that like to feed all day long. If your baby is gaining weight well, that is all the proof you need that whatever you are doing is working!

    Why do you feel embarrased about feeding him so often? Is someone giving you a hard time about that? Friends, family? Or are you questioning yourself because of reading parenting books? I remember reading a baby book with my first and it was talking about spreading out feedings as if that's some kind of virtue. Of course this just stressed me out because my LO wanted to nurse often. But it turns out that the advice to "space out feedings" or "don't let baby treat you like a snack bar" is terrible advice for breastfeeding. Schedules, timing feedings, etc can be the enemy of a successful breastfeeding relationship. Studies done in societies where these artificial restrictions don't come between mother and baby show exactly what you are experiencing - that a baby will feed briefly and frequently (I can't remember the exact numbers, but it's something like every 15 minutes on average).

    It's also not uncommon for baby to feed on one side at a time. Again, you're doing exactly the right thing. Offer the second breast, and if he doesn't want it, he's telling you he's done with that meal.

    You're doing great mama, keep up the good work!

  3. #3
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    with the PP. There's absolutely nothing wrong with frequent feedings, particularly with such a young baby. If this were my baby, I'd be doing the dance of joy about the long nighttime sleep stretches, and probably chalk them up to the frequent daytime feeds. More calories taken in during the day sometimes means less need for them at night.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4

    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*bfwmomof3 View Post
    Why do you feel embarrased about feeding him so often? Is someone giving you a hard time about that? Friends, family? Or are you questioning yourself because of reading parenting books?
    It's a little of each of those. My mom has been saying negative things about my decision to breastfeed since before the baby was even born. She said that breast milk wouldn't be enough and I'd need to suppliment. Then in reality, the baby became rather chubby and it became obvious that breast milk is enough, and so now she's saying that I'm overfeeding him. My husband and his mother have been very supportive, though, so I'm pretty lucky there.

    And yeah, according to parenting books, it would seem like I'm doing something wrong. Before I had the baby, I took the breastfeeding class offered by the hospital, and the person teaching the class said it was important to get the baby on a schedule and feed every 3 hours. I can't imagine how upset my baby would be if I tried to make him wait 3 hours.

    My other concern with the frequent feedings is the practicality of it. It's hard to go places. I feed him right before leaving the house, then once we get someplace, I have to feed him again. I'm pretty comfortable nursing in public, but sometimes I wish I could go to the grocery store without having to feed the baby midway through shopping.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    He is nursing often but just 5 min/session so I understand where it really breaks up your day but you are doing a wonderful job reading him. My twins nurse every 2 hrs, approx, but a half hr each so I'm sitting for an hr at a time. Not bad, just different.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    My mom has been saying negative things about my decision to breastfeed since before the baby was even born. She said that breast milk wouldn't be enough and I'd need to suppliment. Then in reality, the baby became rather chubby and it became obvious that breast milk is enough, and so now she's saying that I'm overfeeding him.
    Let me guess- either your mom didn't nurse her children or she tried but things didn't work out. Am I right? If I am, then what may be going on is that some long-buried guilt issues are surfacing now that you have become a nursing mom. Sometimes people make themselves feel better about their own lack of breastfeeding success by undermining someone else's. It can happen very unconsciously.

    You can love and respect your mom, but this is one of those areas where you don't have to follow her direction.

    Before I had the baby, I took the breastfeeding class offered by the hospital, and the person teaching the class said it was important to get the baby on a schedule and feed every 3 hours. I can't imagine how upset my baby would be if I tried to make him wait 3 hours.
    How could they allow this person to teach a breastfeeding class? Seriously, this person needs to lose their position or at least be completely retrained, and I would actually contact the hospital about it. Just think how many new moms are being sabotaged by this bad advice!!!

    Schedules are the enemy of breastfeeding success. Milk supply is created by demand, so any time a mom restricts demand by spacing feedings out to some artificial interval, she risks losing supply.

    Some people will tell you that this isn't a problem, because you can train a baby to eat more at a feeding by keeping him hungry until it's mealtime, meaning that the baby gets the same amount of milk in a smaller number of feedings. Sounds good in theory, but doesn't work in practice because every mother has a different storage capacity. Storage capacity is the amount of milk a woman's breasts will hold without her supply going down. Women with large storage capacities can have a lot of milk sitting in the breast for a long time, and still not see a marked reduction in supply. Women with average or small storage capacities can't hold a lot of milk without their bodies interpreting that as a cue to reduce supply.

    My other concern with the frequent feedings is the practicality of it. It's hard to go places. I feed him right before leaving the house, then once we get someplace, I have to feed him again. I'm pretty comfortable nursing in public, but sometimes I wish I could go to the grocery store without having to feed the baby midway through shopping.
    Does it help to know that this is temporary? I used to feed my kids in the car right before going into the store, and often had to nurse them again halfway through the shopping trip. But as time went on they were able to space their feedings out a bit and they also discovered that riding in the sling and watching the world go by was really a great way to spend an excursion.

    Have you got a sling of any sort? Slings are great for frequent feeders. First of all, some babies will nurse a little less often when they are on mom's body- they have the physical contact they want and therefore are less likely to get upset, start crying, and need to be soothed (using the breast, of course!). Second, some moms are able to nurse in the sling- reach in, latch baby on, and go about your business with no-one the wiser.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  7. #7
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    Jan 2013
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    Oh, mama. You're doing everything right. PLEASE don't let that awful breastfeeding class wreck your confidence. That was terrible, terrible advice you were given!

    I have a frequent feeder, too. I literally did not get off the couch for her first four months of life. We never, ever went longer than an hour during the day without nursing until she was about 10 months old. I am pretty positive I have a low storage capacity, so baby is smart enough to do what she has to do in order to get her necessary milk! Even beyond that, there is so much more to nursing than just milk. It's comfort, it is snuggles with mom, it just feels good and right to baby to nurse. You are doing a wonderful thing by responding to your baby's needs!

    Running errands is hard when you have a constant latcher, even when you are comfortable NIP. I asked my husband to do the majority of those in the early months. And eventually it got easier. Baby got older and interested in what was happening around her, and her need to nurse in the grocery store went way down. My daughter still nurses at least hourly at home, but very rarely now in public, because she's too busy trying to convince strangers to smell her feet! This will get easier in time without you having to do a thing.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    Oh my gosh, I can't believe someone teaching a breastfeeding class gave such awful advice. Good for you for ignoring it!

  9. #9

    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    Let me guess- either your mom didn't nurse her children or she tried but things didn't work out. Am I right?
    Yes. My sister wasn't breastfed at all. I was breastfed for a month until my mom got mastitis and quit. I think it's great that she tried, but it does seem like she has some guilt about it.

    How could they allow this person to teach a breastfeeding class? Seriously, this person needs to lose their position or at least be completely retrained, and I would actually contact the hospital about it. Just think how many new moms are being sabotaged by this bad advice!!!
    I've been considering contacting the hospital about it. It seems like the hospital is trying hard to promote breastfeeding. It surprises me that the class was taught by a nurse, because the hospital employs a lactation consultant who wouldn't have given bad advice. The lactation consultant meets with new moms while they're in the hospital for free, and runs a breastfeeding support group.

    Some people will tell you that this isn't a problem, because you can train a baby to eat more at a feeding by keeping him hungry until it's mealtime, meaning that the baby gets the same amount of milk in a smaller number of feedings. Sounds good in theory, but doesn't work in practice because every mother has a different storage capacity. Storage capacity is the amount of milk a woman's breasts will hold without her supply going down. Women with large storage capacities can have a lot of milk sitting in the breast for a long time, and still not see a marked reduction in supply. Women with average or small storage capacities can't hold a lot of milk without their bodies interpreting that as a cue to reduce supply.
    I think I have a normal storage capacity, if not a large one. I sometimes pump once in the evening after the baby's asleep because I like having milk in my freezer just in case, and I am hoping to donate extra milk if I can pump enough. I can pretty reliably get 5 ounces out of one breast in one pumping session if it's been a few hours since I fed the baby on that side.

    I don't really understand why the baby can't eat every 2 hours and take both sides at one feeding, rather than feeding hourly on one breast per feeding. I'm going to keep feeding him on demand as often as he needs it, but I can't say I'm not a little jealous of women whose babies feed every 2 hours.

    Does it help to know that this is temporary?
    Yes.

    Have you got a sling of any sort? Slings are great for frequent feeders. First of all, some babies will nurse a little less often when they are on mom's body- they have the physical contact they want and therefore are less likely to get upset, start crying, and need to be soothed (using the breast, of course!). Second, some moms are able to nurse in the sling- reach in, latch baby on, and go about your business with no-one the wiser.
    I've been using a Baby Bjorn carrier. I can nurse him while he's in it, I just have to loosen the straps a little and get him to latch on. He is generally very calm and happy while he's in it. I'm trying to switch to using an Ergo carrier now that he's big enough to use it without the infant insert, although I haven't managed to nurse him while he's in it yet.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: baby is an extremely frequent eater

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*milkyemmy View Post
    I don't really understand why the baby can't eat every 2 hours and take both sides at one feeding, rather than feeding hourly on one breast per feeding. I'm going to keep feeding him on demand as often as he needs it, but I can't say I'm not a little jealous of women whose babies feed every 2 hours.
    I think that if your baby could explain it, he'd say something like this: "Mom, I'm small and I have a really small tummy. If I eat too much all at once, I just don't feel right. You have a big supply" (5 oz is a large amount to be pumping at once from 1 breast, even after several hours of not nursing) "so if I take both breasts at a feeding I just get overfull. But smaller meals mean that I'm hungry pretty often. And then there's the fact that nursing is so, so, so nice. I mean, I get to cuddle you AND get this delicious milk at the same time. I just can't resist, especially because I haven't really found much else in the world that interests me. I mean, maybe if I could figure out how to get my thumb reliably into my mouth, or interact with my own toes I'd spend more time doing that instead of nursing... But I haven't quite managed that yet, so I'm going to continue to do what I love best. For now, anyway."
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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