Your baby’s hunger & fullness cues

  • All babies have common behaviors that signal their hunger or fullness.
  • Fingers and fists in the mouth will often mean it’s time to eat.
  • Breast- or bottle-fed, your baby will often ignore a nipple or fall asleep when full.

Knowing when to feed

You’ll soon learn how to recognize your baby’s hunger signals compared to when he has other needs, such as a wet diaper. Not all babies do the exact same thing, but these guidelines are a good rule of thumb.

Hunger signs

  • Cries or is fussy.
  • Puts fingers or fist in his mouth, or sucks on fingers. 
  • Opens mouth wide when touched on his chin or lips and roots for a nipple. 
  • Squirms or moves his arms and legs. 
  • Moves, licks or smacks his lips or makes small sounds.

Infants often just fall asleep when their tummies are full.

Knowing when he’s full

Even as an infant, your baby knows when he is content with food. Unless he’s losing weight (somewhat expected immediately after birth) or you sense some other problem, he’s the best judge of when enough is enough.

Fullness signs

  • Starts and stops feeding often, taking only a few sucks each time.
  • If breastfeeding, will unlatch often.
  • Slows down pace and may fall asleep while feeding.
  • Spits out or ignores nipple.
  • Fidgets or easily distracted while feeding.
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