For a healthy, full term baby use your baby’s hunger cues to determine when your baby wants to eat.
Don’t feed on a schedule. Feed when your baby shows early signs of hunger. In the beginning, it may be difficult to differentiate between hunger signs and other reasons for fussing, but you’ll become good at it quickly and you’ll learn to know what your child is telling you.
Early Signs of Hunger: Stirring, stretching, sucking motions, sucking on lips, tongue, hands, fingers, toes, toys, or clothing, lip movements, eye movement under closed lids, increased alertness, squeaking, and light fussing.
Active Signs of Hunger: Rooting, trying to position for nursing, pulling on your clothes, fidgeting, squirming, breathing fast, and fussing.
Late Signs of Hunger: Moving head frantically from side to side, fussing and crying.
Signs of Fullness: If your baby stops sucking, closes her mouth, or turns away from the nipple or the bottle she may be full, or may be taking a break. Now is a good time to burp your baby or wait a minute before offering the other breast or bottle again. If your baby resists again, she is full.
- It’s best to feed your baby as soon as you see early signs of hunger.
- Be careful not to confuse early hunger cues with active sleep. If you aren’t sure, wait to see what happens. Your baby will either go back to sleep or wake up and it will become clear.
- Crying does not always mean hunger, In time, you will become an expert at reading your baby’s cues.
- Babies know how much they need to eat. Don’t pressure your newborn to eat at certain time intervals or certain amounts.
- Look for satisfaction between feedings, 8-12 feeds for breastfeeding per 24 hours, and 4-6 wet diapers a day, and alertness.