There are many ways to tell if your baby is hungry. Depending on his age, he will show subtle signs. These signs usually happen before it reaches the point at which he cries. When he starts to cry, it is the most urgent time to feed him.
As your baby’s hunger grows, he start to express his hunger differently. Additionally, your baby will have his own unique personality. This may cause him to have more of a unique reaction to his hunger.
The following is the progression of the signs of hunger. The signs begin when your baby is just starting to feel hungry and escalate to him being super hungry. It is best to feed your baby before he starts to cry, as not doing so may cause complications over time.
7 Signs of Hunger
1. Early signs will begin when the first rumblings of hunger do. Since you should be breastfeeding on demand, paying attention to these signs is important.
- Opening and closing mouth
- Smacking, puckering, or licking lips
- Sticking out his tongue
- Sucking on lips, tongue, hands, toes, fingers, clothing, or toys
2. Active signs will start to happen when the hunger starts to get more prevalent. Your baby will do these things to express his hunger and get your attention.
- Fidgeting or squirming
- Fussing or breathing fast
- Putting his hand or fist to his mouths
- Trying to position for nursing
3. Rooting is when you stroke your baby on the cheek and he turns his head and opens his mouth, looking for something to suck.
- This reflex turns into a voluntary one, and it usually happens at around 4 months.
4. Hitting you on the arm or chest repeatedly
- He may also grab your clothing.
5. Late signs occur when your baby is very hungry. He will start to cry to really get your attention.
- You should try to avoid this as much as possible. He can stress out easily and cause it to be more difficult to nurse for both of you.
6. Moving head frantically from side to side can mean that he is searching for somewhere to root, but is a needier action.
7. Crying babies may not be as easy to nurse. Calming him down may be necessary before either of you can be comfortable enough to continue with nursing.
Overfeeding your baby can cause some complications. You may think that this is not possible, but in a way it is. A lactose overload is completely possible. Weight gain, spit ups, irritability, and poor sleeping habits are also things that can happen if you feed him too much.
He can also become confused with irregular feedings, and it can throw his body off as well. Frustration and hunger can cause him to not feed correctly. His stomach will become accustomed to less feeding, and the nutrients he get will not be as effective.
Alternatively, complications can arise if you do not heed your baby’s feeding needs as well as you should. This can cause your child to turn to unhealthier foods later in life. Underfeeding can also cause slow growth and dissatisfaction after feeding. If you notice any sign that something is wrong, it is critical to do something about it.
Paying attention to these signs is important. Equally important is paying attention to the signs that your baby is done feeding. Overfeeding can cause the issues mentioned previously. The following are signs that your baby is finished feeding and should be gently removed from the breast. Forcing him to continue to feed will do neither of you any good.
Signs Your Baby Is Full
1. Turning away from the breast
2. Closing lips
3. Decreasing or stopping sucking
4. Showing interest in surroundings instead of eating
5. Spitting out nipple or falling asleep
- If he falls asleep while still attached, just gently remove him and let him relax.
Another important thing to look out for is whether or not your baby is eating enough. This helps to combat underfeeding and keeps your baby satisfied. There are a couple ways to tell if he is getting all of the nutrition that he needs. The following are the signs that show your baby is good in the food department.
- He seems satisfied and content after eating
- He has regular bowel movements
- He is gaining regular, healthy weight
- He sleeps well
- He is alert while he is awake
- He produces about 4-6 wet diapers each day
There are also signs to show that your baby is not getting fed enough. The signs are as follows:
- He’s not gaining weight
- He may seem hungry often
- He’s fussing or crying a lot
- He’s not making several soiled diapers per day
Call your doctor if you feel your baby is not getting enough to eat. Alternatively, if you think he is eating too much, call your doctor as well. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your precious bundle of joy. Overfeeding and underfeeding can have great effects on the development of your baby.
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your baby will show the same signs that he is hungry. Make sure that you are being attentive and feeding at the right times. Determining your baby’s hunger is critical to keeping him healthy.
If your baby seems like he is hungry all the time, it is probably normal. He could be going through a growth spurt. He can also have a lactose overload because of too much feeding. Just be careful and ensure that your baby is getting the appropriate amount of feeding for his unique needs.
After some time, you will get used to breastfeeding and what comes with it. Your baby will as well, and a more reliable feeding schedule will begin to develop naturally. Once this schedule develops, breastfeeding will become more enjoyable for the both of you.