How to tell if your baby is hungry

How to tell if your baby is hungry How to tell if your baby is hungry

It is recommended that you feed your baby at the first signs of hunger.

Crying is often a late sign of hunger so don't wait for tears and distress, as this can be very upsetting for both you and baby.

Obviously it will take some time for you to get used to your baby's signs and signals.

Signs your newborn baby is hungry

But if they are hungry, there are some general ways your baby will communicate this.

  1. Nuzzling against your breasts: Babies can smell milk and nuzzling against your breasts is known as rooting
  2. Sucking furiously on their fists: This will start after a few months and is a sign that your baby wants fed
  3. Opening and closing their mouth: This is instinctive as they are mimicking feeding
  4. Sucking on their lips or tongue
  5. Making lip-smacking sounds.

Signs your 6 to 23-month-old is hungry

  1. Reaches for or points to food
  2. Opens his or her mouth when offered a spoon or food
  3. Gets excited when he or she sees food
  4. Uses hand motions or makes sounds to let you know he or she is still hungry.

How much milk should a baby drink?


For the first week or so, your baby will probably take about 1 to 3 ounces at each feeding (every three to four hours or on demand).

Gradually increase the ounces, but never push your baby to take more than they want.

If you need more guidance, check in with your pediatrician about how much to give your baby.

Also let them know if you are concerned about how much or how little your baby is eating.

Important things to remember

  • Only give your baby breast milk or formula in a bottle
  • Hold your baby close when you feed them a bottle
  • Do not prop or leave the bottle in your baby’s mouth. This can increase your baby’s risk of choking, ear infections, and tooth decay. Your baby may also eat more than he or she needs
  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle. Milk can pool around the baby’s teeth and this can cause tooth decay
  • Do not force your baby to finish the bottle if your baby is showing signs of fullness.

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