How will I know they’re hungry?

How will I know they’re hungry? This is probably the most common question I get asked. Well you’ll start to notice a pattern appearing in the feeding schedule but babies will also display the physical signs below too. It is worth noting that not every baby falls asleep after a feed (although most newborns do) so don’t worry if they haven’t dropped off.

  • Lip smacking or licking
  • Seeking with the lips – when you are holding the baby they may turn their head towards your body
  • Opening and closing the mouth
  • Hand to face or hand to mouth
  • Hiccups
  • Baby may poo (can often happen during a feed too)
  • Head bobbing
  • Trying to find a position for nursing, either by lying back or pulling your clothes
  • Sucking on fingers
  • Fidgeting and squirming a lot
  • Hitting you on the arm or chest
  • Fussing and breathing fast
  • Moving head frantically from side to side
  • Crying

Hand sucking is not always a sign of hunger in a baby after the newborn period.  

Look at the hands – a full baby is relaxed with an unclenched fist – a sign that breastfeeding has worked well and they are happy.

Here is the clip I use in the preparation for breastfeeding class – Newborn feeding cues

It can be very hard to calm a crying, hungry baby.  Bearing in mind how new they are to the world (and you to being their parent!) it pays to watch for the early signs of hunger.  If you don’t catch them then rocking and talking in a calm voice will comfort them.  Another idea is to put your finger, nail down against their tongue in their mouth for them to suckle on whilst you are getting ready.  Learning the cues for feeding will help keep breastfeeding calm and quiet.  Some babies will scream for food, some will hiccup, some will turn their heads towards the chest of whoever is feeding them – each baby is different which is why its good to take your time to get to know them better.