Every baby is different, and it can take time to understand what your newborn is trying to tell you. That’s why understanding the common states of alertness and baby’s hunger cues are important, especially in the NICU.

Throughout the day, newborn babies move through various alert/waking states, and the amount of time they spend in each state may vary. Knowing how to recognize each of these states are helpful in determining whether to play with baby or begin Massage+ 30, 10, 5 in the NICU.

Three common states of alertness to note for interacting with baby in the NICU include:

  1. The drowsy state, which occurs when baby is waking up from sleep or going from awake back to sleep. You can tell if baby in in this state if they look like they could go back to sleep.
  2. The quiet alert state, which is when baby is quiet and calm with their eyes wide open. They’re ready to play in this state, but there is little to no facial movement or activity.
  3. The active alert state, which is when baby’s eyes are open and they’re moving around a lot. They may get fussy in this state, which could mean they’re tired or hungry.

It’s also important to know some of the common newborn hunger cues to understand when baby is ready to eat. Some of these include mouthing, sticking out tongue, putting their hand to mouth, and crying. Watch to see these common states of alertness and signs of hunger in action.