What about infant hunger cues?

How can you tell if the baby is hungry? Let’s go over infant hunger cues.   Early Hunger Cues

Early hunger cues happen when the baby is in light active sleep. The eyes will start moving as if dreaming, lips start moving, early waking up time to alert awake quiet state, and the rooting reflex activates searching for the breast. These all signal a fantastic opportunity to offer the baby the breast or bottle while he is calm.

If these cues are not recognized then the mid hunger cues will kick in. In this phase the infant will have increased body movement, stretching, putting hands to mouth (or anything that grazes the lips), and very active rooting in desperate search of nourishment on any person that is holding them. This is also a great time to offer the breast or bottle without further delay!

Sometimes all of these cues are missed even by the most attentive parents. It is important to note that every infant has their own threshold before they get to the late hunger cues. At this point he is quite agitated, frantically rooting side to side, crying and red faced. This is not an ideal time to put the baby to breast and have a good latch. Giving a bottle to the baby in this state may cause excess air intake resulting in gas or regurgitation. Calming a baby that has reached this state is often necessary before a successful feed can take place.  Skin to skin, sucking on a parents pinky finger with or without milk on it, rocking and changing rooms can all help to calm.

Waiting until the late hunger cues as a routine for feedings is not ideal. It can result in feeding and attachment problems as well as stress for both baby and parents. While new parents get to know their infants putting the baby to breast often will develop a good milk supply as well as create a strong bond and secure attachment. Bottle feeding with love and attention will nurture bonding and attachment.

Postpartum Doula support will help new parents to navigate hunger cues as well as the complete transition period of a new baby during the first days, weeks, and months. Contact me if you would like to arrange a visit!


Mamma’s Instincts,                                                                Postpartum Doula support that embraces your unique family~

More Information

This is a great site for birth and postpartum doula information including an informational video. A directory of members and “Meet the Doula Night” event dates are also listed

Doulas of Rhode Island

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Healthy Babies, Happy Moms Inc.

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