During the first few months of life, it’s common for babies to become fussy during feeding times where they want to nurse often in the evenings.
Even though they’re small, babies can be fussy little things. As a result, you’ve probably noticed that you have to feed your little one more in the evenings and less throughout the day. This is known as cluster feeding.
It’s a hugely frustrating time in a mother’s life because you could end up sitting, trying to feed your baby for four hours at a time. Because of their fussiness, they sometimes nurse for a few minutes at a time before pulling off and crying/fussing – and then repeat the cycle all over again.
This kind of behaviour may seem demoralising as you’re probably asking yourself if you’re doing something wrong. Relax – it’s completely normal!
It has nothing to do with your mothering skills or your milk, as long as your baby is happy throughout the rest of the day and doesn’t show signs of being in pain (which could indicate colic). Instead, let your little one nurse for as long as they want to before unlatching themselves. It’s important that you’re patient here so you know your baby is getting enough milk.
DON’T bottle feed during this time as supplementation will cause your body to stop producing as much breastmilk. Formula-fed babies are as fussy in the evenings and are known to go through the exact same phase as part of their development so the best thing to do is wait it out.
While there’s no solid definition as to why babies become fussier in the evenings, some experts believe milk flow can be slower during the night which may be frustrating for some tots. Doctors also attribute evening fussiness to a baby’s immature nervous system which is why the fussiness usually ends by the time they’re four months old.
Tips for coping during baby’s fussy times
- Wear your baby in a sling or baby carrier so that you can free your hands to, say, make dinner while you hold, soothe and nurse your baby.
- Going for a walk with your little one or just taking them outdoors will help calm them before their usual fussy time.
- Sing, hum, talk or listen to music to help calm your baby (and yourself).
- Walk, sway, bounce, dance, swing, or even try a car ride. Hold or bathe your baby, and even try baby massage.
- Dim the lights and reduce noise to create a calming atmosphere.
- Avoid scheduling, even more so in the fussy evening hours.