Babies are born with the ability to recognize when they are full. By about four weeks they have this down fairly well and will give off cues that they are no longer hungry. However, parents don't always recognize these cues or ignore them for various reasons. New research suggests that many parents overfeed their children and that this can and does lead to childhood obesity which in turn often leads to obesity in adults. Recognizing the signs that your baby is done eating can be hard. Additionally you may be tempted to keep feeding to make sure they have gotten enough to eat, to finish a bottle or dish of food, or even in the hopes that they will sleep longer and wake less during the night. This behavior often leads to a baby no longer recognizing that they are full and then they over eat regularly. Recognizing your baby's cues is important as are other good feeding habits.

Crying can and often is a sign of hunger. However, it is important that you don't always respond to the baby by feeding him or her. There are many reasons a baby cries and they can include things like a need to be comforted or cuddled, gas, or even colic. These are things that aren't always easy to identify. It is important that you learn the signs of hunger in your baby and that if you think your baby may be hungry then you look for these to help guide you in the decision to feed your baby. If you are unfamiliar with the common signs of a hungry baby then you can see Signs Your Baby Is Hungry for more information. It is important that you don't feed your baby too often. Try to only feed them when they are hungry!

Signs Your Baby Is Full.
In the beginning your baby may or may not show signs that they are full. Many recommend that you aim for a time frame on breastfeeding (15-20 minutes on the first breast and 10-20 minutes on the second) or an amount on formula feeding (2-3 ounces). This is with the idea that your baby isn't quite ready to say no and let you know when they are full. However, many babies do show some of these signs that they are full fairly early on. It should also be expected that they show signs of satiety by four weeks of age. It is a good idea (especially with bottle feeding) to take frequent breaks for burping, giving your baby a better chance to say "no" to you and let you know that they are really done (it is harder for babies to stop bottle feeding).

  • Releases the nipple- If your baby is letting go, it is probably because they are done. If you aren't certain that this is the case offer it again and see how they react.
  • Draws head away from nipple- If your baby is acting like he or she doesn't want the nipple (whether attached to you or a bottle) then it is likely because he or she doesn't want it.
  • Closes lips tightly- If your baby is closing their mouths and not allowing you to put the nipple into them then it is a good idea to stop trying and not to force them to take it.
  • Sucking slows or stops- If your baby sucks less and less or stops feeding altogether then it is likely because they are becoming full.
  • Falls asleep- This can be hard to determine if it is a sign of satiety in a young baby because as milk flow decreases interest decreases and falling asleep is easy to do. Some tips for making sure are to try burping or changing the diaper and then trying again or to squeeze the breast to increase milk flow (if breast feeding).
  • Blocks mouth with hands- While this isn't usually a sign of being done feeding in really young babies because they may just accidental get their hands in the way, it can be a good sign after about three or four months of age.
  • Turns his head- If your baby turns his or her head away while you are trying to feed it is likely that they are trying to stop feeding.
  • Other signs- Loosing interest in feeding or gaining interest in the surroundings is often a sign that they are no longer hungry. They may even cry as they try to get you to stop forcing them to eat.

Habits to Avoid.
Don't make your baby continue eating because they haven't fed long enough (breastfed), eaten enough (bottle feeding), you want them to finish the bottle or dish of food, or because you are hoping that they will sleep through the night. These can all be common reasons parents over feed their babies, but they are also bad habits that can continue on and make it easier for our babies and later our children to not know when they are hungry.

Knowing that your baby is getting enough is important and many parents worry about it. However, over feeding has negative consequences as well. It is important to learn the signs that your baby is full so that you can make sure that your baby gets enough, but isn't being over fed. Working with your baby's natural cues will make your life easier and help you provide the best, healthyexistence for your baby possible.