Breastfeeding Cues: Common Signs That Tell You When Your Baby is Hungry or Full

Before your baby can start saying “mama” or “milk”, they communicate their needs through sound and movement. It’s important to watch out and recognize your baby’s feeding cues so you’ll know when he or she is already full or still wants more of mama’s milk. Being mindful of these cues and responding lovingly is a great practice which helps properly nourish your baby and lay the foundation for developing healthy eating habits as they grow older.  To help you become more responsive towards your baby’s feeding needs, here is a list of signs to guide the way!

Breastfeeding Cues: Common Signs That Tell You When Your Baby is Hungry or Full

Common Signs of Hunger

Babies give early signs of hunger. Crying is often a late sign and usually means your baby is somewhat distressed, so it would be better to watch out for the earlier signs of hunger before they start crying. A baby’s hunger cues may include:

 

  • Turning their head towards your breast
  • Sucking on their hands or moving their fists to mouth
  • Putting objects in their mouth
  • Smacking of lips
  • Opening and closing their mouth
  • Clenching of fists

 

 

 

Common Signs that Baby is Full

Much like hunger cues, babies also give signs that they are already done eating. If needed, you may also offer your other breast since some babies feed from both breasts, while others don’t. If your baby doesn’t want to latch anymore, then that likely means they are already full. Moms know that it’s important to feed your babies until they are full, so watch out for these signs:

 

  • Turning their head away from breast
  • Body and hands relaxing
  • Starting to fall asleep
  • Unlatching
  • Closing of mouth
  • Spit out

 

 

 

How often should you be feeding your baby?

Newborns, in general, usually feed for 8 to 12 times a day every 24 hours. A rule of thumb is to always watch your baby for hunger cues rather than the clock, but always remember that all babies are different. Some eat more than others, while some require longer feeding times. If you are concerned about underfeeding or overfeeding your baby, it is best to talk to your pediatrician.

 

 

 

How will you know if your baby is getting enough to eat?  
Daily diaper changes are good indicators that your child is getting enough to eat. On average, newborns should have at least three dirty diapers a day on their first four to five days and about five to six wet diapers a day onwards. Growth charts are also another good indicator. So, be sure to take note of your baby’s weight at every doctor’s visit because this will help you find out if he or she is getting the proper nourishment for his or her age.

 

For further concerns about the right amount of milk your baby should be getting, you can always consult your family doctor or pediatrician.

 

Sources:

1. WIC Breastfeeding Support. Baby’s Hunger Cues.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs Your Child is Hungry or Full. October 2019.
3. Living & Loving. 8 Signs that Your Breastfed Baby is Hungry. August 2018.
4. healthychildren.org. Is Your Baby Hungry or Full? Responsive Feeding Explained. September 2017.

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