Parent Tip: Knowing and Recognizing Feeding Cues

Being a new or veteran mom, it is important to learn and understand your baby. Your baby is wise and can communicate their needs with you. Responding early to your baby’s feeding cues is the best way to meet the needs of your baby. Babies are recommended to eat an average of 6-18 feeds every 24 hours (I know that is a large range but each baby is so unique it is difficult to put an exact amount on the number of feeds). Babies display cues when they are hungry and it is best to respond promptly in order to prevent your baby from becoming distressed. Once a baby is distressed due to hunger it becomes more difficult to feed.

There are 3 stages of feeding cues and it is important to learn to recognize them.

1) Early Feeding Cues

  • Squirming or stirring, movement seen in arms and legs
  • Rooting
    • Reflex innate in newborns whereby they open their mouths and turn their heads in search of a nipple or suck on their fingers or hands to display they are hungry
  • Bringing fingers in mouth
  • Baby demeanor is still calm
  • ***THIS is the best time to breastfeed your baby

2)  Mid-Feeding Cues

  • Becoming fussy
  • Squeaking
  • Restless
  • Beginning to intermittently cry

2) Late Feeding Cues

  • Crying
  • Screaming
  • Redness seen in skin
  • Difficult to sooth

It is best to recognize the early feeding cues and begin to breastfeed your baby as it can become increasingly more difficult to calm and feed an agitated baby. Hope these simple tips help you and your baby successfully and happily breastfeed!

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