Hunger Cues: What are the Signs that your Baby is Hungry?

As a new parent, learning the signs that your baby is hungry can be challenging.  Between recovering from giving birth, exhaustion and deciphering your baby’s various cries, it can be hard to recognize hunger cues right away.  That’s why we’re reviewing common hunger cues that are the signs that your baby is hungry.

Most parents know that when their baby cries, it might mean he is hungry.  But there are easier and quieter ways to tell that your baby is gearing up for a feeding.  Usually your baby will show hunger cues before he actually cries.  In fact, crying is a late sign that your baby is hungry.  To avoid this frustration, be aware of these hunger cues.

Hunger Cues: What are the Signs that your Baby is Hungry?

The first signs of hunger are often so subtle you may not recognize them at all.  These include opening and closing the mouth, smacking lips or sucking on anything in sight – hands, feet, lips, toys, clothes, you name it.  When you see these signs that your baby is hungry, he is getting ready for some grub.

If you miss those early signs, the active hunger cues are a bit more obvious.  Rooting is an excellent clue that your baby wants to breastfeed. He may even root on other people, which always give friends and family members a good chuckle.  Similarly, your baby may prepare his own body for breastfeeding by trying to get in his favorite nursing position.  Other signs include hitting or sucking on you, breathing fast, fidgeting or getting fussy.

As we already address, when your baby is crying, he’s very hungry and should be fed immediately.  You may also notice that your baby’s head is moving rapidly when he wants to eat.  That is another late hunger cue.

Some signs that your baby is hungry may change as your baby gets older.  For instance, once your baby exits the newborn stage, he’ll start putting more things in his mouth as a form of exploration.  And some babies become thumb or finger suckers quite early.  That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s hungry.

Also, during growth spurts, your baby may go from completely fine to famished in 60 seconds flat.  Babies require more breast milk during these times of major growth and may get hungry extremely fast.

Most lactation specialists recommend breastfeeding your baby whenever he is hungry, especially in the early months.  If you are unsure that your baby’s behavior is actually a hunger cue or something else, go ahead and offer your breast.  Breastfeeding is soothing to babies and feeding more frequently shouldn’t cause any future problems.  Knowing your baby is well nourished and comforted is one of the most important acts of love you can offer.