Hunger signs


Many parents worry about their baby getting enough to eat. The good news is it’s not hard. Babies won’t overeat unless they’re pushed to do it. That’s definitely true in the first year. When babies don’t get enough, they’ll let you know. Just feed your newborn when he or she is hungry.


Signs that your baby may be hungry

Early signs:

  • Moving, smacking, or licking lips
  • Opening and closing mouth
  • Sucking on lips, tongue, hands, fingers, toes, toys or clothing
  • Moving eyes under the eyelids
  • Making small sounds
  • Opening mouth wide when touched on the chin or lips (rooting reflex)

Active signs:

  • Rooting around on the chest of the person who’s carrying the baby
  • Trying to move into position for nursing, either by lying back or pulling on your clothes
  • Fidgeting or squirming around a lot (often with excited arm and leg movements)
  • Hitting you on the arm or chest 
  • Fussing or breathing fast

Late signs:

  • Moving head wildly from side to side
  • Crying

Signs your baby is full

Overfeeding can happen when parents miss the signs that their baby is full. Feeding babies every time they cry can also lead to overfeeding. Here are signs to help you know when your baby is full.

Newborns up to 3 months of age may:

  • Let go of the nipple
  • Move head away from the nipple
  • Close lips tightly when the nipple is put back in 
  • Slow down or stop sucking
  • Fall asleep feeding (sometimes newborns do this even when they’re hungry)

Babies aged four to six months may:

  • Bite the nipple
  • Block their mouth with their hands
  • Turn away
  • Cry or fuss if feeding keeps going
  • Look around at surroundings
  • Lose interest in eating
  • Let go of the nipple and pull head away