It is very common for babies to be fussy and nurse really typically in the evenings, particularly in the early months.
My daughter had a fussy time every evening for a number of months (yes, it does go away!). I spent weeks on the end of the sofa with a constantly nursing and/or picky baby every night from about 6 to 10 PM.
With my kid, we didn’t have the high-end of being able to sit down. Alex was dissatisfied and weeping unless he was upright and being walked at this time of day (and sometimes this only helped him to be less unhappy). He would sometimes have a very picky time during the day, too. Nursing hardly ever assisted to soothe his fussiness (unlike with my child), so I generally didn’t have that tool to deal with (though I constantly tried). His fussiness was such that I looked into other causes (such as food level of sensitivity), but we never identified any reason for it and he was all smiles the rest of the time. The fussiness slowly went away between 3 and 4 months, as is the standard, however the first few months were hard. Nowadays, the common remark that I find out about him is “Is he constantly this delighted?” So keep in mind: this, too, will pass …
Cluster feeding, also called bunch feeding, is when babies area feeding more detailed together at certain times of the day and go longer in between feedings at other times. This is very common, and typically happens at nights. It’s typically -however not always- followed by a longer sleep duration than normal: baby may be “tanking up” before a long sleep. For instance, your baby may nurse every hour (or perhaps continuously) in between 6 and 10 PM, then have a longish stretch of sleep in the evening– baby might even sleep all night.
Cluster feeding frequently coincides with your baby’s picky time. Baby will nurse a couple of minutes, pull off, fuss/cry, nurse a few minutes, pull off, fuss/cry … on and on … for hours. This can be REALLY frustrating, and mama begins questioning if baby is getting enough milk, if something she is eating is troubling baby, if EVERYTHING she is doing is bothering baby … It can actually destroy your confidence, particularly if there is somebody else around asking the very same questions (your mother, your spouse, your mother-in-law).
This habits is REGULAR! It has nothing to do with your breastmilk or your mothering. If baby is happy the remainder of the day, and baby doesn’t appear to be in pain (similar to colic) during the picky time– simply keep attempting to soothe your baby and do not beat yourself up about the cause. Let baby nurse as long and as often as he will. Recruit daddy (or another assistant) to bring you food/drink and bring things (book/remote/phone/ and so on) while you are nursing and holding baby.
Cluster feeding can take place at any time however for babies it is normally at night and when your baby is fussy. It appears to be very common that in the early evening your baby will start to get fussy and wish to cluster eat and off for hours. This can go on until 6 or 10 PM and then your baby might have a longer duration of sleep.
Does this mean that baby requires more milk than I can provide?
No. Don’t provide baby a bottle– supplementation will only inform your body that you require LESS milk at this time, and that will not help matters. Also, remember that formula fed babies experience picky periods in the evening, too– picky nights prevail for all young babies, no matter how they are fed. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medication spells this out in their supplemental feeding guidelines:
There are common clinical circumstances where examination and breastfeeding management may be needed, but supplements is NOT INDICATED consisting of … The infant who is picky during the night or constantly feeding for numerous hours.
Why do babies fuss at night?
One frequently-heard description for baby’s fussiness at nights is that milk volume has the tendency to be lower in the evening due to the natural biking of hormonal agents throughout the day. Nevertheless, Dr. Peter Hartmann, a breastfeeding scientist, has said that in the women he has actually studied, milk volume is not low at this time of day. Even if milk volume is lower at night, fat material is generally higher in the evening (particularly if baby is enabled to control this via hint feeding), so the amount of calories that baby is getting must not be considerably various. Milk circulation can be slower in the evening, which may be frustrating for some babies.
Doctors often attribute night fussiness to baby’s immature nerve system (and the fussiness does end as baby gets older, generally by 3-4 months). Nevertheless, Dr. Katherine Dettwyler (who does research on breastfeeding in conventional societies) specifies that babies in Mali, West Africa and other traditional societies don’t have colic or late afternoon/evening fussiness. These babies are carried throughout the day and normally nurse numerous times each hour.
So perhaps none of these explanations is a complete response to baby’s evening fussiness. For lots of babies, the picky time seems to be characterized by a need to have small quantities of milk at frequent intervals, combined with great deals of holding, cuddling and movement. Babies who are offered as much revealed milk or formula as they will take by bottle [note: this practice will decrease your milk supply!] typically act in precisely the exact same way in the evenings. Baby takes a percentage and dozes (and fusses), then a little more, and so on. Possibly babies “remember” mom being really active during her pregnancy at these times, and wish to be held, rocked, and supported constantly again.
Perhaps babies simply need to nurse more frequently at this time– rather than take in more milk.
Calming methods for the fussy times
- Wear baby in a sling or baby provider. This will release one or both hands for other jobs (repairing supper, caring for other children) while you hold, soothe and nurse your baby.
- Modification of rate. Let daddy have some “baby time” while mommy takes a shower or just gets some time to herself to unwind and regroup after a long day.
- Go outside. Unwind baby (and mama too) with a walk, or just sit and enjoy the outdoors. Try this a little before baby’s routine fussy time.
- Relieve with noise. Sing, hum, talk, murmur shhhh, listen to music, or use ‘white sound.’ Attempt various types of noise, various designs of music and vocalists with different types of voices.
- Soothe with rhythmic movement. Walk, sway, bounce, dance, swing, or perhaps attempt a car trip.
- Soothe with touch. Hold or shower baby, attempt baby massage.
- Reduce stimulation. Dim lights, minimize noise, swaddle baby.
- Vary nursing positions. Attempt side lying, pushing your back to nurse with baby stomach to tummy, and so on.
- Nurse in motion (while rocking, swaying, walking, and so on).
- Integrate balanced motion with soothing noises.
- Avoid scheduling, even more so in the fussy evening hours.
- More calming techniques.