All of us want to make sure that our kid is fed fully and feels happy. Nobody would ever want to see their kid being hungry. Regrettably, our kids could not tell us with word whether they are hungry or not. However, there are some common baby hunger cues that could help you to know exactly when and what she or he needs to eat.


Many people suppose that crying is a sign of hunger in your kid. However, this is actually a late sign of hunger, and your kid would absolutely want to tell you that he or she is not happy with it. Therefore, you should not rely on the cry when feeding you kid as it would lead to some feeding issues.

Common baby hunger cues

In general, kids give us a lot of signs, which are not so obvious and subtle, to tell us that they are readily to be fed. These cues would happen long before your kids start to cry. For example, they would root with the mouth to make sucking sounds or try to suck on the fist.

​The following are a couple of common cues for baby hunger:

​Early hunger cues for baby:

  • Lick or smack the lips: If your baby is breastfed, then you should feed him her her immediately when you notice this sign other than waiting
  • Open and close the mouth
  • Suck on clothing, toys, toes, fingers, hands, tongue, lips and so on

Active hunger cues for baby:

  • Root around your chest: During the first week of your kid, when you move your hand gently on his or her cheek, the natural reaction would be turning to the breast or bottle and make sucking moves with the mouth. This action will become a voluntary move instead of a reaction after your kid is 4 months old.
  • Try to position for the nursing by pulling on the clothes or lying back
  • Squirm around or fidget a lot
  • Repeatedly hit you on the chest or arm
  • Breathe or fuss fast

Late hunger cues for baby

  • Frantically move the head from side to side
  • Cry: when your kid is hungry, he or she often makes low-pitched and short cry, which falls and rises frequently. However, this is just one of the late cues of hunger. Therefore, you would need to pay attention to other behavioral signs first as mentioned above.

Common cues that your kid is full

  • Close the lips: Just like a hungry kid opening his or her mouth, a full kid will close the lips to say that: "No more food, thank mom."
  • Turn away the head: Moving away his or her head from the whole source of food would be a more assertive form of closing the mouth. Therefore, if your kid turns away from the bottle or your breast, you should not continue to feed him or her forcefully.
  • Decrease or stop sucking: A couple of full kids would will remain on your nipple but do not suck at all. This is a sign meaning that it is time to end feeding your kid.
  • Fall asleep or spit out your nipple: After 10 to 15 minutes of breastfeeding, a full kid would usually become sleepy and end up falling asleep.
  • Show growing interest in surrounding area other than eating: When your kid turns to 4 months, he or she would start to be distracted by surrounding environment during eating time. This is simply because they have developed the awareness of the surrounding world.

What if you are still unsure whether your kid is hungry?

If you are still not sure whether your kid would be hungry, it will do no harm to offer him or her a feed. Particularly when your kid is breastfed, putting him or her to your breast will not only feed a hungry kid, but it would also help to reassure and comfort your kid.

In fact, this will not make any needy or bad habits or damage your kid. I used to feed all of my kids when they seemed to be hungry or even upset. And now, as teenagers, they are really independent and do everything themselves.


To sum up, you kid need to be fed immediately whenever you notice baby hunger cues. Crying is actually late sign of hunger. Therefore, it is much simpler for you to breastfeed your kid if you would be able to pay attention to some common early hungry cues for baby.

A lot of new parents agree that feeding their babies would be really stressful. In fact, there are a lot of questions needed to take into consideration: Do you need to change the foods each week? How would you know whether your kid gets enough nourishment? And how often would you feed your baby?

Fortunately, the good thing is that your kid would be the most effective indicator of suitable time for feeding or being full. This is mainly because his or her internal sense for fullness or hunger is adjusted to specific energy demands. That is the reason why strictly measuring the amount of time for each breastfeeding session or the amount of formula would be not the most effective method to learn the adequate amount for your beloved kid.

Instead, you should pay special attention to some useful and common hungry cues mentioned above. The natural behavior of your kid would let you know exactly when he or he would be hungry or full.

Nancy D. Richardson

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