How to know when your baby needs feeding
A common question both on this forum and in my local breastfeeding group is how to know when your baby needs feeding. What are the signs that your baby may be getting hungry? As it is recommended to breastfeed on demand - it is important to know when your baby wants to feed.
Crying is a very late indicator that a baby needs feeding - it is much better to respond to the early feeding cues so that your baby remains content. Breastfeeding does not simply satisfy hunger in babies - it also gives them emotional comfort and social interaction plus many other benefits (including increased immunity). A mum is never merely a source of food to her baby - she is their source of comfort, love and warmth. Therefore, it is key that a baby does not regularly get upset before they are fed as this could inhibit the emotional and social development the baby gains from breastfeeding.
Here are some cues to look out for that indicate your baby would like a feed:
- hand-sucking (particularly for newborn babies)
- a wide open mouth
- opening and closing their mouth
- moving their head quickly from side to side (this one is, in fact, a fairly late indicator of hunger)
- sucking on anything that comes near them
You will quickly come to learn the cues your baby gives when they are getting ready for a feed.
If you know any other cues for breastfeeding then please share them here, thanks.