Being a new parent is hard. It comes with all sorts of new jobs, new
responsibilities, and it expects that you know certain things to take
care of your baby. It isn't always easy making sure you have the
knowledge required of you to take care of your baby. One of the things
you will need to know is when to feed your baby. Often times this can
feel rathercryptic . You can follow the advice and wake your baby up
every two hours, but you may find yourself trying to feed a baby who
isn't yet hungry. Instead learning your baby's ques will save you time,
effort, and help you avoid frustrations.
It is true that your baby (at least in the beginning) will eat a lot. They say that your newborn will eat every 2-4 hours. This is measured from the start of one feeding to the finish of the second feeding. Baby's stomachs aren't very big and they can't go much longer then four hours without becoming really hungry and often dehydrated. So, having this time frame will help you watch out for the signs when your baby might become hungry.
The signs of hunger can vary from child to child and as you get to know your baby you will know what your baby's hunger signs are. However, there are a number of signs that are common for babies and seeing them in your child (or a baby you are sitting) is a good sign that they are indeed hungry.
- Mouth Movements- One
early sign of hunger are mouth movements. These can include a wide
range of movements such as smacking of the lips, the tongue going in
and out, sucking motions, or opening wide and closing of the mouth
- Sucking- If your baby is sucking on
the blanket, her hands, her fingers, or even her lips it is likely that
he or she is hungry. This one is a little harder to be sure about,
especially as your child gets older because sucking can also be a
comfort to babies.
- Rooting- If your baby moves their head rapidly
when they come in contact with something (like they are searching for
something to latch on to) or they open their mouth when you gently
touch their chin, lips, or cheek then it is likely that they are
- Sounds- While sounds alone don't indicate
that a baby is hungry they can be a sign that they are ready for their
next feeding, especially in the very young.
- Movements- Excited
movements of the arms and legs during a time when they are probably
starting to get hungry are also good signs that they may indeed be
- Alertness and Activity- When your baby becomes more alert and active it is likely that they are hungry.
- Crying or fussing- Crying
is a late sign of hunger. It, of course, can mean a wide range of
things (hungry, hot, cold, dirty diaper, uncomfortable, or gas are all
reasons babies cry). However, feeding is something you should always
try to do if your baby is crying,especially if time has passed.
- Moving head frantically- Late hunger can cause panic and upset. This can be shown with frantic movements of the head and arms.
Feeding on Demand.
You should feed your baby when they are showing signs of hunger. If you can do it before crying happens it is even better. None the less you shouldn't yet very young babies go long periods of time without eating. If it has been four hours and your baby is still sleeping without demanding to eat then it is a good idea to wake them up and try and feed them. This makes sure that they are getting enough to eat and not sleeping through their own hunger cues. If your baby is younger the four weeks it is important that you wake him or her up at least every four hours, even at night. This isn't always easy to do, but it is important for your baby's health and weight gain.
It is possible for your baby to be hungry sooner then two hours. This is especially true of breastfed babies who may have not gotten much milk even if it took a long time or they nursed at both breasts. If your baby shows signs of hunger even if it has been a short time since you fed them it is a good idea to offer them additional feeding time or another bottle. This will make sure that they are getting the food that they need. If you are breastfeeding and your baby often seems hungry after he or she has nursed then it is a good idea to seek assistance and get advice. There are several reasons that your baby may be having a hard time getting enough to eat.
Learning your baby's hunger cues isn't always easy. These are the common signs and it gets easier to recognize your baby's specific hunger cues as you get to know him or her. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time. Parenting isn't always easy and doesn't always feel natural. It is okay to need to take time to learn the things that you need to know and do.