Qn of the Month: How Can I Tell My Baby Is Hungry?


You just came home a few weeks ago with a newborn infant. How can you gauge whether your baby is hungry or crying for another reason? What many parents don’t realize is that crying is actually a very late feeding signal. Here are 10 important cues that may point to a baby being hungry and needing feeding… before the crying starts!

Watch for these signs in your infant (arranged generally in order from subtle to more visible signs):

  • General alertness
  • Starting to bring hand(s) to the mouth
  • Making sucking movements and sounds
  • Turning to you (the caregiver)
  • Starting to stick his or her tongue out
  • Turning his or her face towards the breast (rooting)
  • Displaying Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
  • Flexing arms and legs
  • Clenching fingers and fists
  • Displaying fussiness/crying

If possible, try to identify these signs and not to wait until your baby is really fussing and crying before feeding, because the baby may end up not breastfeeding or bottle feeding as well. To encourage latching on, a breastfeeding mother can show the infant the nipple and gently brush the baby’s cheek. This will stimulate the rooting reflex, causing baby to turn to the breast and latch on.


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