Breastfeeding A to Z

7 Signs Your Breastfed Baby is Hungry

Your baby’s hunger signs start off small and grow more definite. It is better to feed baby when you see early signs of hunger versus waiting. Their hunger cues may include:

  1. Moving or wiggling arms and legs
  2. Rooting.  The rooting reflex causes your baby to turn towards anything that touches or strokes their lips or cheek and open their mouth
  3. Your baby may make sucking movements with their mouth.
  4. They may move their hand to their mouth.
  5. They may suck on their hand or fingers.
  6. They may make soft sounds, cooing or sighing.
  7. They may start to be restless, stir in their sleep or start to wiggle around.

You will have to watch for these signs in the first few days as you are learning your own baby’s hunger signs.

Crying is a late sign of hunger. By the time your baby is crying because they are hungry it may make it harder for them to latch on. It may seem like they forgot how to eat. This is because they are upset and you will need to calm them down first before they can concentrate on eating   As they get older they will be able to wait more patiently, but not in the first week of life. (1)(2)(3)

  1. Mannel, R, Marten, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013, pp 87-88.
  2. Lawrence, RA, Lawrence, RM, Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional, 7th edition, Maryland Heights, MO, Elsevier Mosby, 2011, p 247.
  3. Wambach, K, Riordan, J, Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 5th edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2016, p 237.  Note: publishing date does say 2016.