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Hunger Cues and Your Baby

Your baby will use a number of different cues to communicate with you that he/she is hungry. You should feed your baby according to hunger cues – not according to a set schedule.  By paying special attention to these cues, it can help to promote your breastfeeding experience with your baby. These are cues that your baby may use to let you know that he/she is hungry, they include:

  • moving his/her eyes rapidly behind closed lids.
  • putting his/her hands to his/her mouth.
  • licking his/her lips and make sucking sounds.
  • stretching and increased movements of upper body
  • crying*

*Crying is the last cue that your baby will use to show that he/she is hungry.  It is best to not to let your baby reach the point where he/she is crying out of hunger, as it is often more difficult to get your baby to latch effectively when he/she is upset.

There are also may be times when your baby is too sleepy to show signs of hunger. It is important to wake your baby and put him/her to the breast to feed. Your baby should be breastfeeding every 1.5 to 3 hours in order to ensure that he/she is receiving enough breastmilk that is necessary for proper growth and development.

References:

La Leche League International (1997). The breastfeeding answerbook. (Revised Ed.). Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International Inc.

Ladewig, P.A., London, M.L. & Olds, S.B. (2000). Maternal newborn nursing, a family and community-based approach (6th ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.

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