Baby Feeding Cues - The Rainbow Mama
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Baby Feeding Cues

Baby Feeding Cues

Feeding can be quite a stressful thing to do for many new mothers. This is because it comes with a range of different questions that are quite confusing for a new mother.

Common questions that new mothers might ask include:

  1. How to know if the baby is getting proper nourishment?
  2. How often should the baby be fed?
  3. Should the frequency of nursing change?
  4. And most of all, how to know that the baby is hungry?

Well, fortunately, it is your baby who decides when he/she wants to be fed. This reduces half the burden from your shoulders. A baby has his internal regulator totally linked to the energy levels. Hence, counting the minutes for a breastfeeding session or the ounces of formula milk is not the best way to figure out when to stop. Rather, you should pay attention to the cues that which a baby exhibits when he’s full and when he is hungry.

According to a number of researches, the infant can regulate their energy intake in case the caretakers are responsive to the feeding cues. However, when the cues of the baby are not given a response to, babies often end up being confused regarding the sensations of fullness and hunger which could lead to childhood obesity.

When babies are hungry, they generally exhibit a few or all of these cues:


Hunger cries are usually very short, they rise and fall, and have a low pitch. However, crying is the next stage of hunger. There are other behavioral cues that which you can observe prior to crying.

Acting restless and/or waking up
Before a baby prepares to launch itself for crying, he/she will act restless and move around in the crib after waking up. Similarly, he/she may also constantly open the mouth and/or move the hands near to the mouth.

Other signs include smacking the lips or sucking on the fist. When one of these cues are observed, it is important to breastfeed or feed the baby as soon as possible. This is because due to hunger, he/she will latch on quite easily.

In the first few weeks, rooting is a reflex action of a baby where if you touch his/her cheek, he/she will make sucking movements using the mouth and will turn to the breast or the bottle. However, after a baby is over 4 months of age, rooting is more voluntarily done rather than being a reflex action. This is what babies do when they feel hungry.

During your baby’s first weeks, when you stroke his cheek, his natural reflex will be to turn toward the bottle or breast and make sucking motions with his mouth. After 4 months of age, rooting becomes a voluntary action rather than a reflex.

Opening mouth while feeding

When babies are hungry, they may want to continue sucking even after the milk has finished. They show their interest by opening their mouth while feeding, which literally translates to ‘I need more’.

Smiles during the feeding

When babies are over 4 months of age, they will exhibit their interest by smiling while feeding and looking at you. Thus, when we satisfy their hunger by feeding them, they express their satisfaction by smiling during the feeding.

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