What Are the Signs of Hunger in Breastfed Babies?

Attachment Parenting Jan 5, 2021

How are you to know, when your baby is hungry? Well, here we have a few suggestions on how to tell if your baby is hungry…

The Different Hunger Cues

All babies are different, and all have different ways of letting their mothers know that they are hungry; as you and your baby get to know one another, you will recognize your baby's unique hunger signals.

Early Signs of Hunger

Look out for early baby hunger signs that occur before crying:

Mouth, lips and/or tongue movements:

  • Making sucking motions with the lips.
  • Opening and closing the mouth.
  • Sticking out the tongue.
  • Puckering of the lips.

Rooting for the breast:

  • Baby moves his/her head from side to side as if looking for something. This is called the rooting reflex.
  • If you touch the side of your baby’s head, and he/she turns that way, looking for something to suck, then you will know that your baby is hungry.

Hand to mouth reflex:

  • This is when your baby puts his/her hands in their mouth and sucks on them. Your baby might also suck other things like toys or clothing.

Rapid eye movement while sleeping:

Interpreting Baby's Cries

  • Every baby is different, and therefore every mother needs to learn to interpret her own baby’s cries.
  • Remember that as your baby gets older, the time between feedings will increase.
  • A "baby hunger cry" will usually start off with "baby hunger cues" of discomfort, grunts and whining sounds.
  • If your baby begins to suck, and then leaves the breast again, and begins crying once more, then you can assume that he/she is probably not hungry.
  • Some infant cries are just plain developmental.
Newborn cute baby is crying
Photo by Selenay Balkan / Unsplash

Things To Remember

  • If your baby is younger than four weeks, it’s always best to feed him every two hours. You do not need to stick to a fixed schedule; just make sure you breastfeed your baby at least eight times, every 24 hours.
  • Babies who are always hungry: Some hungry babies, like to breastfeed more often than every two hours, and that is perfectly normal. The first few weeks of constant feeding will help build a good milk supply. Worried about overfeeding your baby?
  • "My breastfed baby acts hungry, but just drank a few minutes ago!" Your baby may be going through a growth spurt, or might just like to comfort feed. Another thing that might cause this is a lactose overload (usually accompanied by an oversupply of milk).
  • Some babies do not like to feed until they are full, and might want to drink small amounts every hour or so, this is normal.
  • Never force your baby to feed!


Tracy Behr

A homeschooling mother of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural! Currently studying plant-based nutrition.

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