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4 Signs Your Baby is Hungry

When it is your first baby, it takes time to understand your baby’s hunger cues. Here are four signs that you can look for.

It can be hard to know what your baby’s cries, wriggles, and fussiness mean, especially if you’re a new parent. Quite often, a baby’s cries or fussiness are an indication she’s hungry.  Learning to recognize hunger cues takes time, but it will help you understand your child’s eating habits better and help keep her on the right nutrition track.


The ability to recognize your little one’s hunger cues will also help foster her internal regulation system so she continues to practice self-regulation later in life. In case you didn’t know, babies are excellent at self-regulating themselves when it comes to food. For example: a baby will stop eating when she’s full no matter how much food you try to give them. Or vice versa, they will continue to eat if hungry. This is true with breastfeeding as well. Before long, your baby will have a schedule in place for eating.

Here are 4 signs your baby may be hungry:

#1. Your baby opens their mouth searching for a nipple, which is also sometimes referred to as rooting. Oftentimes, younger infants will root on the chest of the person who’s holding them even if it’s not a nursing mother. Rooting is known as an “active” phase of hunger, so baby may have given you a few hunger signs before beginning to root.

#2. Your baby will sucks on their lips, a toy or just about anything they can get her hands on. Sucking is usually one of the first cues your baby uses to tell you she’s ready for food. When not sucking, you may also notice cues such as opening and closing their mouth.

#3. Your baby is acting fussy, fidgety and restless. Although these three cues are sometimes associated with tiredness too, they are more than likely caused by hunger if your little one just woke from a nap.

#4. Your baby cries, then wails. Crying is one of the last cues your baby will use to tell you they are hungry. If you’re keeping an eye out for the signs mentioned above, you may avoid getting to this stage altogether. Hunger cries are often shorter and lower in pitch than cries signaling pain or distress. If your baby does cry as a result of hunger, you may need to calm them down first before feeding.

Hunger Cues Change as Baby Grows

It’s important to remember: the cues your baby uses will likely change as they gets older. Developmental stages such as gaining more control over motor functions may alter the cues your baby uses to signal it is time to eat.   

Edited and reposted from March 2018

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