Baby Hungry Cues: How to Know When Baby is Hungry

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How do you know when your baby is ready to eat?

This is a valid question and in this article, we’ll cover all of the known baby cues — so you know exactly why your baby is behaving in a certain way, especially when it’s hungry.

Every mother wants her baby to be filled and content; no mother will like to keep her baby hungry.

Every baby shows up a different way of communicating their requirements and needs to their mother.

They show up their general way of communicating when they are really hungry. It is essential for mothers to figure out their infant hunger cues and to look into this matter.

As our babies are so small and they cannot even speak, they cannot even tell us that when they are hungry and when not but a mother can identify babies’ hunger clues that can help you and your baby to fulfill their needs.

Generally, when a baby sucks her fingers, keeps tossing on the bed, and points towards food or smiles, that could be a good sign they’re hungry. If the baby cries, then they can no longer sustain it.

One of the cues that parents think that their baby is hungry is that the baby is crying. It’s partially true!

But remember that crying is supposed to be a late signal of being hungry — a baby cries mostly when he or she can no longer control the hunger.

How will it affect parents and especially mothers?

Parenting expert and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), Pinky McKay, says: “Notice where your baby’s tongue is when she is yelling, a baby can’t latch on to feed when her tongue is up against the roof of her mouth, and if you do manage to calm her enough to latch on and feed, her suck is likely to be disorganized, or he/she may be exhausted from crying and only take a small feed before falling asleep.

This, of course, means that she will probably sleep for a very short time then wake for another feed as her tiny tummy quickly empties.”

If you see your baby isn’t feeling sensible and is upset otherwise you will say distressed, therefore you’ll calm him or her simply with some stunning skin to skin contact.

It has been observed that babies show many cues when they are hungry, they give a lot of subtle cues that show that they are ready to feed before they even start to cry.

It starts from rooting with their moths to making sucking noise and they even start to suck on their fists.

Signs of Hunger in Babies

when baby is hungry

We’ve come to know that babies are themselves the best ones who judge and understand well when they are hungry.

They can also understand the body signs that show it to them internally and it works for them accordingly.

But it will be really good for both mom and baby to recognize the cues for baby feeding and that makes it simple and easy to satisfy and fill their tummy as soon as possible.

Early Hunger Cues in babies:

The early hunger cues include:

  • Smacking or licking lips: this is one of the clear signs that will help you to understand what your baby is trying to taste and check that is there any food nearby or not. 
  • Moving their mouth here and there: the next cue that helps the mother to recognize that their baby is hungry is that babies usually try to see if the food is already present in their mouth by chewing their mouth and figuring it out. 
  • Sucking on toys or their fingers: even baby is repeating this activity it could be an early sign of a hungry baby.
  • Other signs include opening and closing mouth
  • Rooting around the chest of the individual whoever is holding the baby
  • Trying their best to position themselves properly for nursing, either by lying back or just pulling the clothes of their mother
  • Hitting their mother’s arm or chest repeatedly. 

Early Active and Late Newborn Hunger Cues

The main active hunger cues include:

  • Rubbing hardly against the person who carrying baby: the first thing babies try to attempt is to look for a breast on the mother or anyone who is holding them.
  • Responds by touching their heads: on touching, they will turn their heads in the same direction to pretend that they are hungry.
  • Hitting and fidgeting the arm: it is with every baby that they try to gain attention by showing some discomfort or by hitting the person they are with to communicate to look at them.

Baby Hunger Signs (Late Hunger Cues):

  • Continuous movement of the head: This is usually when babies are extremely angry and they even run out of patience and they want to have something to eat anywhere around them.
  • Crying loudly: it is the best way to grab someone’s attention near babies and letting people know that they are hungry and they must look into this matter.

Common Signs That Your Baby Is Hungry:

Few more common signs that indicate that your baby is hungry are:

  • Your baby is awake, or just alert and not sleeping. Before your baby starts launching into a full-throated hunger wail, he will start moving around his crib. He will also try to move his mouth and put his hands to his face
  • Your babies arms and legs are moving all around
  • If your baby is sucking her lips or tongue, she is hungry for sure
  • If she’s making faces
  • If she’s restless, fussing, fidgeting, wiggling and squirming all around
  • If she’s holding you tightly and is crying too
  • If your baby is cooing or making different sounds.

Newborn Feeding Chart (Baby Hunger Cues Age Wise)

As the baby starts to grow, their cues change too for hunger. By focusing on these cues, one can prepare you to notice them and adapt their newer ways of communication.

Baby’s AgeHunger Signs
0 – 5 monthsSucking fingers, waking up, tossing around
5 – 8 monthsBaby makes a cooing sounds, smiles,
pointing towards food, crawling towards food.
8 – 12 monthsBaby gets happy upon seeing food or spoon

0 to 5 months:

When the baby is between 0 to 5 months, the hunger cues he or she shows are to suck fingers, waking up and tossing all around, crying and fussing loudly, opening and closing of the mouth.

5 to 8 months:

Babies usually make cooing sounds and smiles when they see food around them, they point or crawl towards the food kept in front of them, they also point to the food and also moves towards a spoon.

8 to 12 months:

When the baby turns to 8 months, he starts reaching out for food when he sees it, they get excited and happy upon seeing the food.

How Frequently Should You Feed Your Baby?

feeding a baby

You may see babies demanding often. It’s just babies tease their mothers too when mothers finished feeding them and with no more time, they just get hungry again and want to eat more.

The reason behind this is that they have small stomachs and their metabolism is high that lead those to eat small quantities that easily get digested.

This is the reason they get hungry frequently and feeding them often is just normal. 

In the early stages, within a single day, you need to go through around 12 feeding cycles.

It’s very important for mothers to keep in their minds to keep holding their babies as babies love the presence of their mothers around them and they feel safe too.

In this way, babies feel comfortable too that the mother is around so she will definitely feed when the baby wants to get food. 

You may find every baby communicating in a different manner so a set pattern cannot be determined.

But however, if your baby feeds for longer on your breast, it’s a good sign to know that they are hungry and they must be feed frequently.

One of the other signs also includes that if they wet their nappies routinely, and are gaining their weight steadily so this is a good sign too that they are being fed well. You do not need to worry about this at all.

For growth spurts, there are certain age limits that are for the babies as ten days, 3-6 weeks, 4-6 months, in this age group, babies feed more than usual.

In the same way, you do not need to worry, your body will produce more milk that will be helpful for your baby to drink milk properly. 

Hunger Cues and Growth Spurts:

hungry baby

You may see that babies constantly shows several signs of hunger when they are facing growth spurt.

During this phase, it looks like your child wants to breastfeed the whole time and is never satisfied with how much milk he drinks

It may be seen that your baby is not getting enough milk supply, growth spurts are considered to be just a normal feeding pattern that you are going to face when your newborn is growing.

You can make your baby relax and rest on your breast as well which will help him to stay safe and secure. 

These constant signs that the baby is showing being hungry only last for a few days while all the other breastfeeding signals that your body has will be helpful to increase the supply of breast milk.

When your body produces more milk, your baby’s demands and needs will be fulfilled as well.

This will take some time but you will for sure adjust will the regular breastfeeding routine of your baby.

What are the Advantages of Following the Hunger Cues of your baby?

  • It is highly recommended to understand what your baby is asking for, this will help mothers to understand their babies and respond in time too.
  • Mothers can easily breastfeed that will be done smoothly without pressurizing the baby or increasing the feeding time.
  • Baby starts to stay closer to his mother because he knew only she is the one who understands his cues and feeds at the right time. 
  • This builds confidence and your relation with your baby grows well.