Feeding Cues & Concerns

Feeding Cues

Feeding Cues & Concerns

Being a parent brings up new questions almost every day—and not knowing where to look can be overwhelming. That's why we've collected what you need to know about hunger and fullness cues, picky eating, spit-up, poop problems, allergies and more. So you know you're finding the answers for your little one.

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How to know your baby is getting enough

How to know your Newborn is getting enough

You're just getting to know your baby, and soon enough you’ll learn how to recognize their hunger and fullness feeding cues. In the meantime, while not all babies do the exact same thing, these tips are a good rule of thumb to help figure out when they're hungry.

Knowing the cues of a hungry baby makes it easier to tell if yours is getting enough breastmilk or baby formula. Look for these signs to tell if your little one needs a little more.


  • Your baby cries or is fussy.
  • They put their fingers or fist in their mouth, or suck on their fingers.
  • Your little one opens their mouth wide when touched on his chin or lips and roots for a nipple.
  • They squirm or move their arms and legs.
  • Your baby moves, licks or smacks his lips or makes small sounds.


How do you know when they're full?


Knowing your baby's feeding patterns and behavior is a big help, but recognizing these actions can make it a little easier.


  • A hungry baby will initially be a little tense, then relax, as they become satisfied.
  • Let your baby comfortably feed until they stop. You can assume they're satisfied when she’s no longer interested and lets go of your breast or the bottle.
  • They're likely full if they start and stop feeding often, taking only a few sucks each time.
  • If they slow down their pace and fall asleep they're likely full.
  • Fidgeting or being easily distracted while feeding is another sign of fullness.


7 signs it was a good, productive feeding


Here are some other signs that your baby is getting enough to eat.


  • You breast or bottle feed your baby at least 8 times per 24 hours.
  • After the first week and once your milk is established if breastfeeding, your baby is gaining 1/2 oz- 1oz of weight a day.
  • Your breastfed baby has 6 or more wet diapers and at least 3 yellow, “seedy” stools per 24 hours.
  • Your breast fullness increases between feedings, and then softens after each feeding.
  • You’re able to hear your baby swallowing milk.
  • It's a comfortable feeding experience for you and your baby, and you aren't experiencing sore, cracked, red, pinched or painful nipples during feedings if you breastfeed
  • Your baby is back to their birth weight by 14 days old.

If you have any questions about your baby's growth or eating, be sure to ask your pediatrician.

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How often should your baby eat

How often & how much should your baby eat?

It’s common to wonder if your little one is getting enough breastmilk or formula at each feeding. For the first 4 to 6 months, breastmilk or formula should be your baby’s sole source of nutrition, and the primary source of nutrition throughout the first year.

Along with paying attention to your baby’s growth pattern, your pediatrician will also help you monitor your little one’s growth to help ensure he is eating enough.



Is he getting enough?


If you’re wondering whether or not your baby is getting enough breastmilk or formula, it’s good to use his own hunger and fullness cues as a general guide. Read "How to know your Newborn is getting enough" to find out what they are.


Here are a few more helpful hints to keep in mind from the American Academy of Pediatrics:


  • Younger babies feed more frequently than older babies. Young babies should be fed about 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. Newborn breastfed babies usually feed about every 2 to 3 hours, which tends to be more frequently than formula-fed babies.
  • By the end of the first month, he may be drinking about 3 to 4 fl. oz. every 3 to 4 hours.
  • If your baby has 6 to 8 wet diapers a day and seems satisfied after feeding, it’s a good sign that he’s getting enough.
  • Your baby may not eat the same amount each day, so pay attention to his hunger and fullness cues to tell you when he has had enough.
  • When babies weigh more than 12 pounds, most formula-fed babies no longer need a feeding in the middle of the night. He will be feeding more during the day and his sleeping patterns will become more regular. However, this will certainly vary from baby to baby.



Growth check


You might notice at each checkup that your baby’s pediatrician will measure your baby’s length, weight and head circumference, and plot the information on a growth chart. What’s most important is that your baby continues to grow in their own steady way. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor if you have any questions.

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Feeding Issues

Feeding issues: Spitting up

There are a lot of reasons your baby may spit up, but one of the main ones is the size of their little tummy. Your baby's stomach is tiny at birth—the size of a marble—and grows to the size of an egg around day 10. Many babies eat a lot quickly, so it's common for them to spit up, either because they overate or air entered their stomach while eating. “Happy spitters” spit up one to two mouthfuls during, or shortly after, each feeding and show no sign of discomfort. Basically, you don't have to worry as long as you talk to your pediatrician and follow the tips below.

As your baby’s stomach grows and their digestive system matures, the rate and frequency of spit-up will decrease. Actually, your baby will likely outgrow spitting up around the time they can sit up, but it can keeping happening through the first year in some babies.


Tips to help reduce spit-up:


  • Don’t wait too long—feed your baby before they are too hungry to reduce the chance that they will eat too much or too quickly.
  • Feedings should be calm and quiet. Watch for fullness cues.
  • Burp your baby about 2 to 3 times (or about every five minutes) during each feeding. Burping your baby upright on your lap can help decrease pressure on their tummy.
  • Tilt the bottle so formula or breastmilk, not air, fills the nipple. If your baby is breastfed, make sure your baby is properly latching on to the nipple to prevent taking in air.
  • Hold your baby in an upright position (their head should be higher than their abdomen) for 20 to 30 minutes after each feeding, avoiding vigorous play.
  • Slightly elevate the head of the entire crib with stable blocks to help keep their head higher than their abdomen.


The difference between spit-up and vomiting


It's never pretty when anyone is sick, and it can be especially stressful when that person is so tiny and in need of care. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines vomiting as “forceful throwing up of stomach contents through the mouth” compared to spit-up, which they define as “easy flow of stomach contents out of the mouth, frequently with a burp.” Vomiting can be a sign of a minor feeding concern or it could indicate a more serious issue. Either way it's important to consult your doctor.


Vomiting can be caused by a number of issues including food allergy and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), but it is most often the result of a virus. While most viruses resolve on their own in a couple of days, they can be serious if they involve vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration—a big deal for your small baby.


When to call your doctor


  • Vomiting occurs repeatedly or is unusually forceful.
  • Green or yellowish color.
  • Accompanies fever or diarrhea.
  • Your baby seems to be choking when vomiting.
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Feeding Issues

Feeding issues: Diarrhea and Constipation

Preview Copy It's not exactly the most glamorous part of being a parent, but paying close attention to your baby's stools is a good way to stay on top of their health. You might notice that they change color, consistency, and odor—especially once you introduce solid foods—and generally speaking, there is no need to be concerned! But if, all of a sudden, there's an increase in frequency or looseness, it could be diarrhea, and that could be a reason to head to the pediatrician.
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Formula Cues

Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues while bottle feeding

Babies are good at communicating both their hunger and fullness. But many Moms have the tendency, especially when bottle feeding, to feed based on how much they think their baby should drink or how much they can see left in the bottle. Don’t feel pressured to have your baby finish the bottle, but rather pay attention to what they're telling you through hunger and fullness cues.

Hunger signs


  • Will suck on his fingers or hand.
  • Begins fussing.
  • Seems excited to see the bottle.
  • Eagerly sucks on the bottle nipple when it’s offered.



Knowing when your baby is full


Feeding from a bottle, whether it’s formula or breast milk, can increase the likelihood of excessive weight gain, during the first year, because of the natural tendency to have baby “finish the bottle.” To be sure you’re not overfeeding, watch your baby’s fullness cues and stop feeding when they signal that they've had enough.


Fullness signs


  • Stops sucking or slows down the pace.
  • Releases the nipple and turns their head away.
  • Relaxed and may fall asleep.
  • Gets distracted and starts looking around
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Picky Toddler
How much do you know about picky eating?

Picky eating is common during Toddler years and can be frustrating for parents. How should you handle picky eating? Should you just ignore it and hope your child outgrows it?

Take this quiz to see how much you know about handling some common mealtime occurrences.


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