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Hunger Cues & Signals

Being in tune with your baby’s signals of when they are hungry and when they are full will enable what is called ‘Responsive Feeding’.  This means that the caregiver adopts feeding practices that encourage your baby to eat autonomously and in response to their physiological and developmental needs, which will in turn encourage healthy eating habits and support their cognitive, emotional and social development.  Responsive Feeding means not forcing or pressurising your baby into feeding or stopping feeding but letting them decide.

Every baby is different and it takes time to learn how they communicate when they are wanting to feed and when they are full.   Below outlines the different cues that can be present to look out for.

Possible Need to Feed Cues

Early Signs - Ready for Food

  • Sucking on lips, tongue, fingers etc
  • Smacking or licking their lips
  • Opening and closing their mouth
  • Stirring

Active Signs - Really Hungry

  • Rooting (seeking) for the breast or bottle
  • Squirming around
  • Clenching fists over chest or tummy
  • Stirring

Late Signs - 'Hangry!' - Try to Calm First then Feed

  • Agitated movements of arms and legs
  • Colour of face turning red
  • Crying
  • Moving head from side to side quickly

Possible Fullness (had enough) Cues

Again different babies will use different cues to signal that they have had enough:

  • No longer gazing into your eyes
  • Breaking the latch
  • Turning their head away

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