Hungry or full? You can tell when your baby is hungry even before he cries. This is because you see his “hunger cues.”
When a baby is hungry Your baby may show he is hungry by:
• bringing his hands to his mouth or near it.
• bending his arms and legs towards his body.
• making sucking noises.
• puckering his lips.
• searching for your nipple.
Hungry babies show these hunger cues first. If no one feeds them, then they cry. When your baby cries, he may be frustrated and hard to feed. You may get frustrated too! Read more about hunger cues here>>
Crying but not hungry Babies cry for many reasons. Even if your baby is crying, he may not be hungry. If he isn’t interested in nursing, don’t be discouraged. He may need a diaper change, or be feeling over-stimulated. Try to find ways to calm him. Learn more about babies’ crying here>>
When baby is full Babies are born with tiny tummies. They don’t need to eat very much at one time. New babies and older babies know when they’re hungry and when they’re full.
You can tell when your baby is full. Your baby may show he is full by
• sucking slower or stopping his sucking.
• relaxing his hands and arms.
• turning away from your nipple.
• pushing away.
• falling asleep.
When you put your sleeping baby down, he may wake up and cry. This doesn’t mean he is hungry! In fact, he may be full and content. Babies start off in light sleep and wake up easily. Try holding your baby for a while longer before laying him down. And try to rest when your baby sleeps. Your growing new baby will soon want to eat again.
If baby is bottle-fed It can be harmful to bottle feed your baby if he isn’t hungry. The milk in the bottle flows out, and the baby doesn’t need to suck. The baby can easily take in too much.
If parents bottle feed their babies more than the babies need, they stop knowing when they’re full. This is a problem. Babies who take in too much may become very overweight.
If a baby continues to be very overweight as he grows into childhood and his teen years, he may become diabetic later.
If baby is breastfed A baby who is breastfed has to work to get milk from the breast. When he isn’t hungry any longer, he will relax and won’t work to get milk. This is the reason he won’t drink too much.
Comfort of your breast Breastfeeding is about more than food. Your breastfed baby enjoys the comfort of your breast and being close to you.
Is your baby a WIC baby? If your baby is on WIC, you can talk to your WIC educator about his “hunger cues.” You can ask her any questions you may have.
You also can attend a breastfeeding support group with other mothers.
WIC is here for you! Read about WIC services here>>