Is your 6-month-old eating enough? How often should you feed them? Do their nutritional needs change from week to week? Babies communicate differently, here are some signs to look for.
6 signs of a hungry baby
Baby Hunger Cue #1. Wakes up and acts restless
Before your baby launches into a full-blown wail, they may wake up and move around in their crib. They may move their mouth and raise their hands to their face.
Baby Hunger Cue #2. Sucks fists or smacks lips
If you breastfeed, fist sucking and lip smacking are signs your hungry baby will latch on more easily.
Baby Hunger Cue #3. Roots
During your infant’s first weeks, if you stroke their cheek, their natural reflex will be to turn toward the bottle or breast and make sucking motions—this is called rooting. It shifts to being a voluntary action rather than a reflex by about 4 months old.
Baby Hunger Cue #4. Continues suckling
A hungry baby may continue to show interest in sucking even after finishing the first breast or bottle. This could be your baby’s way of letting you know they’re not quite done yet.
Baby Hunger Cue #5. Smiles during feeding
Babies older than 4 months will show their interest in eating by looking at you and smiling as they feed—just about as heartwarming as it gets.
Baby Hunger Cue #6. Cries
A hunger cry is usually short, low-pitched, and rises and falls. Crying is one of the later signs of a hungry baby. You'll likely notice other cues first. By the time a hungry baby wails, it may be more difficult to start feeding them until they calm down.
”Hearing your baby’s ‘hungry-cry’ is so stressful.” - Enfamil® mom
5 signs your little one is full
Full Baby Cue #1. Closes lips
Just as a hungry baby suckles, a full baby will likely zip their lips. This could be your little one’s way of saying they’re all done.
Full Baby Cue #2. Turns head away
A more forceful version of closing their lips is moving their head away. If your baby turns away from your breast or bottle, don't force them to eat.
Full Baby Cue #3. Decreases or stops sucking
Some full babies stay latched to the nipple without sucking—at which point, it's probably time to gently end the session.
Full Baby Cue #4. Spits out the nipple or falls asleep when full
After about 15 to 20 minutes of feeding, a full baby often acts drowsy and may even fall asleep.
Full Baby Cue #5. Interest in surroundings, not eating
Around 4 months old, many babies begin to get distracted during feedings, as their awareness of the world around them grows. A hungry baby will usually put this curiosity on hold long enough to fill up. Looking around distractedly is a sign they’re full.
Babies are smart. They instinctively know when they need to be fed and when they’re satisfied. They are typically in-tune to their needs. So, try to relax! Play it by ear and pay attention to your baby’s cues.
Now that you know the signs of a hungry baby, feeding time can be a little less stressful, leaving more time for bonding! Learn more about formula-feeding your little one.