Babies can’t tell you that they’re hungry which makes it tricky for you to know whether they’re starving or fussing for another reason. To make things more complicated a crying baby isn’t always hungry; in fact sometimes the last thing a wailing baby wants is milk.
But the news isn’t all bad, there are a few telltale hunger signs to watch out for. If you pay attention to your baby’s cues early enough then you’ll be able to feed them before they get distressed and start screaming the house or shopping centre down.
You’ll start to notice certain behaviours that indicate they are hungry, they might appear subtle to start with but over time you’ll come to figure out what your little one is trying to tell you.
Baby hunger cues to keep a look out for:
1. I’m getting hungry (early signs)
Licking or smacking lips is a sign babies are getting hungry, they’ll often suck on their fist and be rooting around for something to put in their mouth. Also watch for the opening and closing of mouth and the rooting around on the chest of whoever is carrying them.
2. I want to drink now (active signs)
Fidgeting or squirming a lot is your little ones way of signalling hunger. Watch for signs that your baby is trying to position itself into a place where they nurse or feed. Some babies wake up and act restless in their crib; they might also move their mouth and raise hands to their face. You’ll start to hear a few grunting noises and talking sounds.
3. I’m starving so hurry up and feed me NOW (late signs)
If you’ve missed the earlier cues then you’ll probably be greeted with a hunger cry, this is often a short, low-pitched noise that rises and falls. By the time your baby is wailing they’re desperate for food and may take a little settling before they accept the bottle.
5 things to keep in mind:
- If your baby is losing interest in the bottle, try burping and readjusting your position. Don’t force a bottle into your little one - if they’re hungry they’ll drink!
- Keep track of how much milk baby is drinking if you’re not sure they are getting enough. Some babies are born hungry and others take time to get into a pattern of feeding.
- Some days it’ll be a feast and others a famine, try not to get too stressed or anxious because you know yourself that your appetite varies and so will your baby’s.
- An easy way to make sure your baby is getting enough milk is to keep track of wet nappies. Newborns might take a week or so to get there, but it’s ideal for baby to have about six soaked nappies a day.
- You’ll probably get lots of well meaning pieces of advice from friends and family but do your best not to take it all on board or start second-guessing yourself. Trust your instincts and be guided by your baby.
Keep in mind that: Breastfeeding is best for babies and it has many benefits for both mum and baby. Breast milk contains all the nutrients your growing baby needs to thrive, especially in the first 6 months of life; it also contains antibodies to help your baby fight infections. Therefore, it is important that mum eats a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
About the author - Emily Toxward:
When former journalist Emily Toxward isn’t wrangling her three kids, she’s busy juggling the demands of her writing business Write Styling. She left full-time work to have children and now juggles the demands of motherhood, domestic life and writing from home. To keep her sanity Emily makes frequent trips to the picturesque beaches of the Gold Coast.