Being a new mother can be an exciting and stressful phase at the same time, especially when it comes to knowing when your baby is hungry.
Without this knowledge, it could make the first few days very stressful and ruin important bonding time!
Don’t worry – I will run you through common signs that your baby is hungry in this post.
My baby is crying; does that mean they are hungry?
While bringing a new life into the world can be overwhelming, it can also come with many responsibilities that you aren’t prepared for fully. For example, a simple incident such as your baby crying can mean many things.
Did you know that?
Do you feed your baby whenever he cries? Well, you could be making a big mistake, then!
A baby’s cry doesn’t necessarily mean he is hungry. It could mean many other things. For example, he might want to be lifted, or he might have some pain in his tummy, or it could be anything else. As a new mom, it can be confusing to know when your baby is hungry and when he doesn’t need to be fed.
So, here is a brief overview of the signs you need to watch out for to know if your baby is hungry.
Top signs that your baby is hungry
When your baby cries, watch out for the following body movements. If he expresses one or a few of these movements, it is a cue for you that he is hungry. This way, you can avoid overfeeding him.
- He moves his fists rapidly to his mouth as if he is going to suck his fingers.
- His head keeps turning towards the angle of your breast.
- He starts smacking his lips vigorously.
- He opens and closes his mouth frequently.
- He sticks out his tongue and starts sucking his clothes.
- He keeps looking at you keenly to follow your movements to check if you will feed him. If you still don’t feed him, he starts to cry loudly.
- He keeps moving his arms and legs in a continuous but lazy manner.
- He has just woken up from deep sleep.
- He is very much awake, alert, and watching the surroundings.
- He makes soft but prominent noises, such as whimpering and sighing.
- He is restless and irritated. He keeps moving his head in a swift side-to-side motion.
Sometimes, you don’t have to wait for your baby to cry to feed him. Instead, you must watch out for these signs and feed him before he starts wailing for milk.
Some points you need to remember when nursing your child.
Your friends and relatives may give you many suggestions about when and how to nurse your child. Unfortunately, too much information and unsolicited advice can confuse you. Here are some simple tips while nursing your baby to ensure his hunger pangs are satisfied. The key point is you should keep it simple and not overdo it when nursing your baby.
- Many new mothers follow a specific schedule while breastfeeding their babies. This is not needed. You need to nurse your baby on demand and not as per a particular schedule. Some babies may be happy to be fed once in 2 to 3 hours. On the other hand, the fussier ones need to latch on to their mothers’ breasts every 30 minutes. Watch out for the hunger signs in your baby and feed him accordingly.
- Never feel guilty about not producing enough milk for your baby. Remember the simple rule – the more you nurse, the more milk you produce. It would help if you were happy and assured that you have enough milk to give your child during every feeding session. Breastfeeding not only satisfies your baby’s hunger; it forms a unique bond between you and your child. So, you need to be happy during this phase to nurture this bond.
- Please nurse your baby as soon as he exhibits hunger symptoms. If you don’t feed him on time, he may get fussy and start to wail. A crying baby finds it difficult to latch on his mother’s breast, and the entire breastfeeding session can turn quite stressful for you. Watch out for the signs and feed proactively to avoid problems.
- Ensure that your newborn baby is fed once every 2 or 3 hours during the initial months. This will help your baby get into a pattern and make things easy for both of you in the long run.
How to know when to stop nursing
One of the most persistent questions in the minds of new moms is this – “Is my baby getting enough milk?” If you feel that way, don’t be afraid, there are thousands of other young mothers going through the same emotions as yours. Has your baby been appropriately fed? Is his hunger satisfied? You can get answers to these questions if you observe your baby. When his tummy is full, he can display one or more of these expressions:
- Your baby automatically moves his head away from your breast when his tummy is full.
- He closes his mouth firmly and doesn’t look interested in latching on to your breast or bottle.
- Your baby looks very relaxed and happy.
- He opens his fists to let you know he had his full.
- He is now ready to open his eyes and look at things around him with interest and happiness.
- He goes back to sleep peacefully after nursing.
Apart from watching out for these clues to check whether your baby is hungry or full, you should also check his weight regularly to ensure he is on the right track of growth. The baby’s weight should increase by 150 to 250 grams weekly if you nurse him properly and he drinks enough milk during every session.
If your baby doesn’t gain weight properly, though you are nursing him well, please visit a pediatrician immediately.
In a nutshell, we would like to tell new moms not to panic when nursing their babies. Instead, stay calm and watch out for the hunger cues in your infant to know when he needs food.
Make every nursing session enjoyable for yourself and your baby, as these precious moments are what you will cherish forever in your lives.