How Can I Tell If My Newborn Baby Is Hungry?

For many new San Francisco parents, one of their biggest worries once they’re home with their new baby is not knowing how  to tell when their infant is hungry versus tired, needing a diaper change, is  over-stimulated or any of the other reasons that a newborn baby cries. While some people will tell you to feed your newborn on a strict schedule, every infant and mother-baby pair is unique. Maybe you or your little one do better with on-demand feeding. In any case, it’s important to know what your baby’s cues are so that you become confident of  hunger signals and understand when she needs to be fed as opposed to soothed in other ways. See the tips below from the San Francisco doctors at GetzWell Pediatrics to learn more about how to determine if your newborn is ready for his or her next meal.

Signs That Your Newborn Baby is Hungry:

Decode Baby’s Crying

  • If you’ve taken a San Francisco newborn baby care class, you may have been taught that babies have many different cries to express distinct needs, and it’s true. A hunger cry, which is a later sign of hunger, is usually short and low-pitched and rises and falls.

Baby Wakes Up Restless

  • If your baby wakes – whether it’s day or night – and appears restless and distressed, it’s a sign that it’s feeding time. A hungry baby may also open his or her mouth as if searching for a nipple (what is known as “rooting” which we talk more about below) and try to put his hands in his mouth.

Baby  Sucks on Her Fist

  • While sucking is powerfully soothing for babies and doesn’t always indicate hunger, if your baby is managing to suck on her own fist and/or making smacking noises, it’s a sign that she is ready to eat.

Baby is Rooting Around

  • A young infant, typically less  than 4 months, has a neurologic reflex known as  “rooting.” If you gave birth in a San Francisco hospital, the postpartum nurses who cared for you probably pointed out this instinctual newborn behavior.  If you touch a newborn’s cheek, he or she will automatically turn in that direction and begin to make sucking motions. If your baby is consistently rooting without being provoked by cheek stroking, it is a clear indicator that he or she is hungry.

Baby Opens His Mouth While Feeding

  • If your baby opens his mouth while feeding, you may think that your baby is trying to tell to you that he has had enough. The opposite is likely true. When your baby opens his or her mouth while breast or bottle-feeding, it’s your baby’s way of signaling that he is getting exactly what he needs– and wants more.

I’m New at This Parenting Thing! How Can I Get My Questions Answered?

The doctors at GetzWell Pediatrics understand that being a first-time parent is challenging – babies don’t come with instruction manuals. We’re here to guide you every step of the way. Call our San Francisco pediatric offices with your questions at (415) 826-1701.