Is it Feeding Time? Learn Baby’s Hunger Cues
Feeding baby is crucial to their development!
But how often should baby be fed? And if baby can’t tell you that they’re hungry, how do you know they want to feed?
You may have heard from a healthcare provider that baby should feed whenever they seem hungry (this is called responsive feeding). Even though baby may not be able to say “feed me!”, they do show hunger cues that tell you they’re ready to feed. These are small, subtle movements or behaviors that can tell you that baby is hungry.
Here are some hunger cues to look for to know baby is hungry:
- Licking or smacking lips
- Sucking on hand
- Bringing hands to mouth
- Sticking tongue out
- Opening mouth
- Turning head toward your hand
- Rooting, which is a way of moving jaw and mouth or head in search of a feeding source
- Fussiness or increased movement
- Sucking on other things, such as their hand. Note: Sometimes baby suck for comfort, so this doesn’t always mean baby is hungry. It may mean they want to be held or changed.
What about crying?
Crying is a hunger cue! However, it usually comes after most hunger cues, and can be a cue that baby is very hungry. So be on the lookout for other hunger cues first before baby cries!
As baby gets older, their hunger cues will change. They still may not be talking or know how to ask for food, but they may have more direct ways to ask for food, such as:
- Reaching for or pointing to food
- Opening their mouth when offered a spoon or food
- Getting excited when they see food
- Using hand motions
How do you know if your baby is feeding enough? Signs baby is getting enough milk include steady weight gain, 6-8 wet diapers a day, bowel movements and baby is happy between feedings. Talk to baby’s healthcare provider if you have any concerns. Keep in mind all babies are different and have varying needs! These are just general guidelines, but speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.