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Newborn Hunger Cues: What Are the Signs Your Baby Is Hungry?

Newborn Hunger Cues What Are the Signs Your Baby Is Hungry

Are you enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding or learning about newborn bottle feeding?

Whichever way you feed your baby, there’s always the question of how often you should do so. Fortunately, your baby can help you with this. 

You can use their body language, such as movements and sounds, as hunger cues

Before transitioning from breast milk to formula, you should know the different newborn hunger cues!

What Are the Hunger Cues in a Newborn That You Need to Know?

What Are the Hunger Cues in a Newborn That You Need to Know?

Knowing the answer to the question, “How much breast milk should a newborn drink?” is one thing.

But you should also know when exactly you should feed your baby. The following are the signs you should watch out for:

Newborns younger than 6 weeks old might:

  • Make sucking noises
  • Turn their heads to look for their mom’s breast
  • Clench their hands
  • Puck or smack their lips
  • Suck on their hands 

Once they reach 6 to 8 weeks old, some cues may not be reliable anymore. This is the case, especially for hand-sucking.

During this stage, teething happens. Babies instinctively suck on their hands as a response to the tenderness of their gums.

As they gain more control over their hands, they naturally begin to explore by putting their hands and fingers in their mouth.

Babies at this stage may cue hunger when they:

  • Fidget or squirm around
  • Root around the chest of whoever is carrying them
  • Position for nursing by lying back or pulling your clothes
  • Hit you on the arm or chest
  • Fuss and breathe fast

Notice that the hunger cues I’ve mentioned didn’t include crying. When your baby starts crying, it is in distress already. 

When this happens, getting your baby to latch may be more challenging. You should calm them down before you try to nurse or bottle-feed them. 

How Many Times Should You Feed Your Newborn Baby?

How Many Times Should You Feed Your Newborn Baby?

Aside from knowing their hunger cues, you should know how often you need to feed your baby to complement how long breast milk is good for. 

You should feed weeks-old newborns every 2 to 3 hours, even if that means waking them. That gives you at least 8 times to feed them in a day.  

Once babies reach 4 weeks to 4 months old, let them set their pattern as long as they’re within the normal weight gain pattern. 

If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to mix breast milk and formula, it’s essential to understand how to prepare baby formula.

Once you have that knowledge, you can explore the best baby bottles and choose the best baby formula for your little one.

You also have options for the best hypoallergenic baby formula, dairy-free formula, lactose-free formula, and soy formula for babies. You can even go further with a baby formula alternative

This is where the game changes. You will feed your newborn less when it comes to baby formulas.

This is because babies digest formula slower in contrast to breast milk. They may take in more formula during every feeding and have longer stretches between feedings. 

Don’t overfeed your baby by watching out for signs that they’re full, such as the following:

  • Babies may close their mouths.
  • They may turn their heads away from the bottle or breast.
  • They tend to relax their hands.

What Happens if I Avoid My Newborn’s Hunger Cues?

Avoiding or unintentionally missing your baby’s hunger cues will provoke them more.

Hungry babies can be very demanding, and they won’t hold back in showing it. Their body language will be more active. They may wriggle, fuss, and cry. 

However, avoiding calmer cues may be helpful for mommies. Sleep overfeeding can reduce depression, prevent mastitis, and boost your milk supply.

You can also get extra nighttime rest by feeding your baby more during the day. 

Avoid missing your baby’s hunger cues by knowing where you can buy breast milk and what to feed a baby if there is no breast milk or formula.

It is important to understand how long the formula is good for and know the signs that the formula doesn’t agree with a baby so that you don’t feed your baby the bad or wrong formula as well.

Are Hunger Cues Different With Each Baby?

Are Hunger Cues Different With Each Baby?

All babies communicate their hunger in different ways and use a variety of cues to let you know what they need. Understanding your child’s unique cues can help you know when and how often you should feed them. 

Your baby may also develop new cues for hunger and fullness as they grow. For example, babies 6 to 23 months old can show hunger cues like:

  • Pointing or reaching for food
  • Using actions or sounds to signal they’re hungry
  • Opening their mouths when given food or a spoon
  • Getting excited when they see food


Your newborn will use their hands, head, mouth, and other body language to show hunger. You can expect this to happen every 2 to 3 hours. 

However, each baby can have different hunger cues. It’s not only hunger they’ll give cues for as well. 

To better understand your baby, it is important to familiarize yourself with their body language. This way, you can develop a stronger relationship with them and give them a sense of security. 

Nayna Llenos
Nayna Llenos

Hi, I’m Nayna!
I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I’m lucky and blessed to have two wonderful children to care for and love.
Despite this blessing, there are times wherein I do wonder if I truly am the mother my children need. Am I giving them the right food, care, and discipline to them?
But that is the beauty of parenting — you grow along with your children as they flourish to be their wonderful selves!
I wish to share my experiences with motherhood and how these tips can help you in your parenting journey.
I hope my advices and experiences will prove useful to you and that you have a smooth and wonderful journey as a mother!