Breastfeeding, Parenting

How to Know Your Baby is Hungry – Hunger Cues

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I’m sure you read the title and thought, well the baby cries duh. But crying out of hunger is the last resort for babies! That is right you can avoid the hunger cue of crying all together. So what are the cues before the tears?

Why you should know these cues and how can it help you.

Seriously knowing these cues when baby number 2 came along helped me remain a calm parent who felt like she was on top of shit!

How to Know Your Baby is Hungry – Hunger Cues

All babies will have the same hunger cues and if you catch the early hunger cues you can eliminate a lot of crying.  This will help you remain stress free as a new parent

Who can benefit from knowing hunger cues?

EVERYONE! Whether you are a breastfeeding mom or a formula feeding mom, a care giver, family member, or friend. Knowing when a baby is hungry before a baby is upset can save some sanity. If you have kids you know what I mean.

No matter how much we love our kids, our family, our friends kids, or those we watch crying is stressful. It immediately makes you feel helpless and wondering what is wrong.

Catching those early cues is easier then you may think!

Early Hunger Cues

These are going to be the very first cues your baby gives you to signal hey I’m getting hungry here.

  • Lip smacking, sticking out tongue, opening mouth
  • rooting, trying to find the breast
  • sucking on anything near by ie. blankets, shirt, arm

At this point you should change babies diaper if it is needy, get yourself a snack, make bottle if need be, and feed baby. Don’t watch the clock! The first month or two a feeding schedule is just not useful. It can be stressful if a baby wants to eat before the set time, or is sleeping during feeding time. Watch your baby because they will tell you when they need to eat.

Feed Me Now Hunger Cues

At this point you really need to feed baby before the crying and screaming starts.

  • hand in mouth
  • fidgeting, kicking, squirming
  • breathing fast
  • fussing

My oldest would nurse all day long and it was exhausting but she needed that comfort and since she was my rainbow baby I think I needed it too. She is almost 3 and would still cuddle all day if I wanted to. When I had Delta any time we planned on doing something whether it was grocery shopping or meals I made sure to either try to feed Delta or keep an eye out for hunger cues.

Doing this made having a newborn and a toddler easier, less stressful, and fun. She didn’t cry a lot because she was fed right as she needed it so she had one less need to express. I did still cuddle with her, but wasn’t able to as much as with our first.

Related post: Tandem Nursing

Past Hungry

At this point baby will need to be calmed before feeding. A screaming baby is not a baby that will take a bottle or breastfeed. Even though you may know that is what baby needs. She is now upset and is not capable of calming herself down. She needs you to comfort her and then feed her. If you can watch for the previous cues you can avoid this situation!!!!

  • kicking, flailing
  • screaming, turning red
  • frantic agitated movements
  • inconsolable

I can remember my oldest was about 2 months old and she was just crying and crying and she wouldn’t nurse I was stressed, angry, and tired. Luke bless his heart suggested giving her a bottle I yelled at him.

There was nothing wrong with my breast she was just overly hungry and instead of trying to calm her I was just trying to nurse her and all she was doing was continuing to cry. Had I known her hunger cues I could have avoided that stress.

Breastfeeding support: Ultimate list of 50 Breastfeeding Resources

Have you been able to see your babies hunger cues?

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  1. These are great tips for reading a baby’s actions. And how clever babies are to try and twist themselves into nursing position!

    1. becomingschultz says:

      Instincts are so amazing and powerful! No matter how “civilized” we become those instincts are still so strong.

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