Babies should be fed when they indicate hunger. Crying is a late indicator of hunger – breastfeeding is much easier for both mom and baby if mom is able to pick up on baby’s earlier hunger cues.
- Smacking or licking lips
- Opening and closing mouth
- Sucking on the lips, tongue, hands, fingers, toes, toys, or clothing
Active Feeding Cues
- Rooting around on the chest of whoever is carrying him
- Trying to position for nursing, either by lying back or pulling on your clothes
- Fidgeting or squirming around a lot
- Hitting you on the arm or chest repeatedly
- Fussing or breathing fast
Late Feeding Cues (calm baby before feeding)
- Moving head frantically from side to side
Newborns should be nursed anytime they cue hunger
After the newborn period, hand sucking is not as reliable an indicator of hunger. Starting at around 6-8 weeks, baby will begin to gain more control over her hands and will soon begin to explore her hands and everything else using her mouth. It is also common for babies to suck on their hands when their gums become tender in preparation for tooth eruption. Symptoms of teething can sometimes occur weeks and even months before the first tooth erupts.