How to assess if your baby is hungry

How to assess if your baby is hungry

Taking care of a baby is perhaps one of the toughest challenges ever, especially if you are a first-time mother. The biggest challenge is probably reading hunger cues of the little one. For example, you might think that your baby usually cries when he or she is hungry. But you might be wrong. Crying is not the only way babies convey that they are hungry.

Here are a few pointers that make it easy to detect baby hunger cues.

Hunger cues in infants up to the age of 6 months:

  • Opening the mouth and placing the hands inside the mouth is among the early signs that the baby is hungry. Closing the mouth indicates that the child is full.
  • When the child moves closer to the feeding source such as the mother’s breast or a milk bottle, it indicates that he or she is asking for a feed. When the baby is full, he/she moves his/her head away from the bottle or breast.
  • Smacking, licking, and folding lips are signs that a baby is hungry.
  • Clenched fists are also indicators of hunger in infants. When the baby relaxes its fists, it means that he/she is full.
  • When an infant moves his/her head from one side to another side frantically, it means that his or her hunger is increasing.
  • Crying is usually the last hunger cue that is demonstrated by an infant.
  • Baby hunger cues while sleeping include waking up at short intervals, moving hands and placing them in the mouth, and trying to reach the mother.

If you are wondering how to tell if a baby is still hungry after breastfeeding, you need to keep a lookout for the above signs. Mothers are usually more receptive to the signs that babies show when they are hungry. Maternal instincts play a major role here. As infants grow older, the signs and indicators of hunger may change due to the introduction of solid foods.

Signs of hunger in infants aged between 6 and 24 months:

  • When the child looks at food and starts pointing towards it or puts his/her hand forward to try and get hold of the food, it shows that he/she might be hungry. Moving away or turning the head away from food is an indicator of fullness.
  • If you take a spoon or food item near the child’s mouth and he or she opens the mouth, this indicates hunger. If the child closes his or her mouth and refuses to open it, he or she might be full.
  • If your child gets excited at the sight of food, he or she is hungry.
  • Children might also use gestures to let adults know if he/she is full or hungry. When a child pushes away the food, it shows that he/she does not want to eat.
  • Hungry children may also throw temper tantrums, show signs of irritability, fuss about small things, or continuously keep whining till they are fed.

How to know if your baby is getting adequate feeds?

If your baby seems to be active and less cranky, while using around six to eight nappies throughout the day, then there is nothing to worry about. Along with this, if the child passes normal and regular stools, and experiences healthy weight gain, then he or she is getting enough food. Sleep patterns will also be good if a child is well-fed.

If your baby doesn’t seem to be full and doesn’t pass stools in a normal pattern, it can indicate that he or she is not getting enough feeds. This, along with improper weight gain, poor and irregular sleep patterns, and whining and cranky behaviour, can indicate inadequate feeds. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor in order to check the child’s development and feeding patterns.

To wrap it up

Crying is not an exclusive indicator of hunger in infancy. So, mothers must watch out for early signs of hunger in children such as sucking on the fists and making sucking noises. The signs of hunger change as the age of the child increases. Hence, it is important to observe and identify the cues that your child shows when he/she is hungry.