How to recognize the signs your baby is hungry

0-2 Months, Feeding

Having a newborn and understanding their needs is not an easy task… especially for first time parents. 🙃

The way your baby communicate with you is by crying so… it may be difficult, at the beginning, to understand if your Little One is crying because they are hungry, wet, hot, cold, sleepy or in pain.

So… how do we know when our baby is hungry?

Here is the good news!

Your baby will let you know when they are ready to eat with special signals known as “Feeding cues“!

Feeding cues are signs, your baby gives you, due to newborn reflexes… occurring when they are hungry.

We can group these cues according to your baby state, from extremely calm to extremely agitated.

Some babies may take a few minutes to go through these stages, while others may take as little as 60 seconds. 😅

Let’s discover these feeding cue stages:

1. Early Waking Up… Very Calm

This is when they are in a light awake state: starting moving their mouth and lips, making smacking sounds and sticking out their tongues.

Baby is still very calm so this is a great time to get a bottle ready or start breastfeeding!

2. Awake – Calm

Baby is now more alert but still calm.

Rooting is a typical sign of this stage and a pretty evident one that our baby is hungry.

This is when they start moving their head and mouth in search of the nipple/bottle.

They will be a little more alert by now so… hurry up! 😉

In this video, this adorable baby is showing the first 2 stages… light body motion, protruding their tongue and mouth rooting:

3. Awake – Active

The 3th stage is when your baby is getting more active and very alert!

Lots of body movement, sucking on their fists, hands… basically anything at reach! 😅

You really better hurry up now… because… next is…

4. Extremely Active and Agitated – Crying!

Baby is now not happy and very hungry…

Crying is considered the last… and loudest… feeding cue…😁 the last way for your baby to tell you…

“FEED ME!!!”

For breastfeeding moms, especially during the first few weeks of age, it is recommended to try to calm your baby down before starting the session.


  • The best way to calm your crying baby is by holding them to your chest, skin to skin.
    You may also want to shush. Their young brain should calm down and “reset”.
    As soon as your baby is calmer… just slide them down at the breast.
    Don’t wait too long… they will not be very patient 😀
  • It is recommended to feed your baby “on demand” especially during the first few weeks of age.
    This is especially true for breastfed babies!
    If you are looking to have your baby on a feeding schedule, you may have to wait at least 3 months of age.
  • A little trick to know if your baby is well-fed and happy is to look at their hands!

Closed Fists = Hungry

Open Relaxed Hands = Content

  • After a feeding always burp your baby!
    It is common for babies to ingest air while feeding on a bottle or at the breast…
    Sometimes, breastfed babies with an optimal latch barely burp but keeping them upright, for a few minutes, is a great habit and bonding time!

    Burping your baby after a feed is so important because this trapped air:
    1. Can cause chest discomfort… and we may confuse baby’s cry as a sign of hunger (leading to a potential overfeed, spit up and make them even more uncomfortable…)
    2. If the air is not released… it may end up traveling down, causing belly aches and cramping.

Log all your baby’s feeds with your ParentLove app and look for patterns!

You may notice more frequent feedings during the morning hours or fussy time in the afternoon.

The more you track, the better and faster… you will know your baby’s needs.

Lots of Love & Happy Parenting! 💕

About Donatella

Dony is a mom of 2, who found her true passion supporting breastfeeding moms and new parents, in their journey into parenthood.

In addition to her personal experience, she has dedicated years studying the prenatal and postnatal period… and is constantly learning to better support new parents! 💕

She has supported hundreds of nursing mothers, taught classes and attended many births as a doula.

Dony has been trained and certified as a:

  • IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)
  • Certified Lactation Counselor
  • Newborn Care Specialist Educator
  • Birth Doula CD(DONA)
  • Gentle Birth Childbirth Educator

Together with her husband, they created the ParentLove app to help parents caring for their newborns. Learn more about our family!

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