Newborn babies can't tell their mothers that they are hungry. The only form of communication they will have for many months is. . . crying. Babies also have other ways of communicating their hunger that don't involve spoken language.
Aside from crying, newborns root. They gnaw on their hands. They put their fingers in their mouths. Some babies stick their tongues out or they make lip-smacking sounds. Still, other babies will open their mouths, then close them.
If the baby has been made to wait to eat, the hunger signals will become more pronounced "Feed me! Now!" It's at this point that the baby will begin squirming, breathing quickly, fussing, pulling at mom's clothes, expressing discomfort and whining or hitting mom's arm or chest (Ow!) . A sleepy baby will fall asleep, wake up and fall asleep in fast succession.
Finally, if the feeding has really been delayed, the baby becomes more frantic, moving his head from side to side. Then comes the crying. This "hunger" cry isn't a high-pitched sound. Instead, it's lower in tone, rising and falling. The cries themselves are short.
While first-time mothers don't know these cues, they will learn them over the first few weeks as they get to know their babies.
15 The Baby Sticks Their Tongue Out
An upset baby positions his tongue up against the roof of his mouth. This means that, no matter how hard mom tries, she won't be able to get him to feed until that tongue moves down some. He won't be able to latch onto mom or the bottle's nipple, according to Belly Belly.
As a result of crying so much, then attaching his tongue to the roof of his mouth, baby will be pooped out. He'll only eat for a short while, then fall asleep. Next, he'll wake up in a short while, even hungrier than before.
Of course, there are times when it's just not possible to stop and feed the baby as soon as he gets hungry. Mom and dad are on the road and can't stop. Mom can't find a safe, clean space to breastfeed (and she's beginning to feel a little pain herself).
14 Flexing Their Arms, Hands, And Legs
As his hunger grows stronger, the baby's signs grow stronger as well. Strong4Life says that babies may begin to flex their legs, hands and arms as they wait longer and longer, becoming even more hungry.
These movements may come along with looking around, whining sounds and his facial expressions. As mom and dad are growing used to how their baby communicates, they'll soon begin to put everything together and come to the right conclusion.
It's best for the parents to try and translate baby's nonverbal cues before he begins to cry. The crying means his hunger has reached that "late" stage. He'll be harder to soothe so he can feed effectively. This means that both baby and mom will expend precious energy and possibly even grow more upset as they try to meet their goal of getting the baby fed and happy.
13 Won't Sleep Through The Night
Babies (newborns and infants) get hungry at night. Because of their tiny tummies and sizes, they need to eat much more frequently than their parents or older siblings. The baby's nighttime feedings may go on for a few months—this is a sign that, during the day, he is receiving adequate nutrition.
At night, if he's hungry, the baby won't fall back to sleep (not many people can, if they are hungry). He may fuss or cry pretty persistently until mom or dad goes in to feed him, then change the resulting wet or dirty diaper.
If his nighttime sleep pattern includes sleeping for three to four solid hours a night, he's getting sufficient nutrition during his nighttime feedings, says the Baby Sleep Site. By waking you up and crying, he let you know he was hungry. While you may be crying for sleep, that's temporary. This, too, shall pass.
12 Hands Are Always On Their Face
Parents can be excused for believing that their newborn is trying to get to know what he looks like. Feeding is an oral activity. That is, the baby uses his mouth to get the food he needs.
While he's waiting (and growing hungrier and hungrier), he may bring his hands in toward his face, says Strong4Life. He's doing this in an effort to "bring" the nutrition to him, even though nothing will happen other than a random finger or thumb slipping into his mouth.
When parents see their baby doing this at the same time he's opening his mouth, that's a surefire sign they need to feed him. If they aren't sure, they won't harm their baby by trying to feed him. He'll quickly begin to eat and satisfy his hunger—hopefully, before he's reached that crying stage.
11 Tired Or Hungry?
Not all babies will want to drink from mom's boob or the bottle when they get tired. There are some who use this feeding to help them fall asleep, says Baby Care Advice. This baby may have been taught to sleep after taking a feeding. Therefore, it's natural for him to look for a feeding when he's tired, even though he's not actually hungry.
It's easy for any parent to mistake the signals for tiredness as their baby being hungry. After all, some of the signs look similar. These include leg and arm movements, grunting, fussing and crying.
Other babies develop a "snack" feeding pattern, which looks like the baby taking only a little breastmilk or formula at each feeding. While this won't harm the baby, it can exhaust his parents, who have to stop doing whatever they were doing (sleeping?) to offer another "snack."
10 Smacking Their Lips
Newborn babies have a plethora of methods for communicating their hunger. When the baby is first hungry, he may smack his lips repeatedly. Or he'll lick them. Parents can learn to detect the "I'm hungry" signal when the baby opens and closes his mouth repeatedly, says Mom Junction.
The baby isn't sticking his tongue out just because he wants to look cute. He wants to eat! He'll also start to make sucking motions with his mouth, as if he's drinking from a bottle already. Another reliable indicator of hunger is when the baby puts his fingers or hands into his mouth, sucking at them.
The baby will still be relatively calm at this point. His hunger isn't so acute that he's hurting. At first, parents should understand that, because they're still learning baby's hunger signals, they may miss them occasionally.
9 The Baby's Head Will Turn When...
The newborn has an ancient, instinctive behavior that well-serves their need for nutrition. In this motion, baby turns his head toward mom's "food source," then begins trying to move more closely to it so he can begin to eat. If his parents stroke his cheek with a finger, he'll turn his head in that direction.
Babies can easily catch the scent of their mothers, which aids them as they look for the food source. If mom is bottle-feeding or pumping and feeding breastmilk to the baby, she'll have to put the baby on a schedule or get to know his signals, telling her he's hungry "right now, mom!"
While schedule feeding works well, allowing the baby to learn when he'll wake up to eat, sometimes his body upsets that schedule. For instance, it he begins a growth spurt, what used to satisfy him for four hours may only last a little more than three hours now, according to BabyGaga.
8 Pay Attention To Facial Expressions
According to Living and Loving, the baby's face looks like he's worried—"Where's my milk? I'm hungry!" Parents may be surprised that a baby can show his emotions via facial expressions. Whenever he's experiencing something such as hunger, a wet diaper or boredom, his expressions will cue his parents in to what he's feeling.
So, even though he can't talk, he's definitely communicating his emotions to mom and dad. He'll also become fussy, whimpering, closing his eyes and wrinkling his face. He'll squirm, trying to get to the source of food.
While the baby's grandparents can be a wonderful resource for new parents, they need to learn everything they can on their own about their own baby. That's because every baby expresses him or herself differently, which may potentially make the grandparents' suggestions a bit off.
7 Is The Baby Growing Fast Enough?
These are real. Mom gets into a schedule, knowing how often and how long her baby will nurse. He gets a growth spurt and that comfortable schedule goes right out the door.
If the baby begins to cry half-an-hour to an hour before he would normally become hungry, mom should try offering a feeding. If he takes it, that's a sign that his need for nutrition is growing. He's going to need to get more breastmilk or formula at one feeding or he'll need to feed more often.
A newborn may experience a growth spurt at about two weeks of age, then a few weeks later, shortly before his six-week birthday, according to Healthy Children. This is a sign for mom and dad that, in the past few weeks, baby has gotten enough nutrition to grow and reach a point where he's about to grow even more. Good news!
6 When Hunger Intensifies
Now, baby's hunger signs grow more active. In other words, he'll be more emphatic about how he's feeling. Baby becomes fussy and his breathing becomes more rapid. No matter who is holding the baby, he'll turn his head toward their chest to look for milk.
The baby's legs and arms begin to move more and more as he tries to tell his mother he's ready to eat right away. He may appear uncomfortable, whining and grunting. Mom Junction says that, even a newborn can show active signs of hunger by hitting his parent's arm more than once!
If the baby is still sleeping, parents can be clued into a growing hunger by watching the baby's eye movements. Even though his eyes are closed, it's easy to see rapid eye movements back and forth. Newborns who are really hungry may want to eat more than normal. They'll continue to show interest in feeding.
5 Urgent Hunger Cues
Urgent Hunger Cues. The cues here are short. This is probably so mom and dad can more quickly determine their baby has gotten very hungry—and very upset.
First, the baby is fully awake and he's moving his head from side to side, looking for his source of milk. It doesn't matter if it's mom or the bottle—he is hungry and he wants to eat 10 minutes ago!
Now, the baby starts crying. Rather than one prolonged cry after the other, these cries are rhythmic and even low-pitched, according to What to Expect. The crying sounds almost like a droning. As he's crying, the baby will root for the bottle or mom's boob. He'll also make a suckling motion with his tongue and mouth, almost as if the bottle or boob were already inside his mouth. The final cue for mom and dad: the baby puts his fingers into his mouth.
4 Purposeful Movements
Yes, even a newborn can carry certain movements out with a purpose! According to Today's Parent, a newborn is capable of pushing himself away from his parent's shoulder as he looks for milk.
Another baby may accomplish his goal in a different way. Rather than pushing away from mom's shoulder, he'll "bump" or "peck" his way down from her shoulder to her boob, looking for that badly needed food source.
A new parent may mistake this determined movement as, "Oh, the baby's going to fall!" She may hold onto the baby's back and head more firmly, trying to keep him from going any lower. And this will only frustrate the baby. If the baby makes these movements time after time, his parents may soon learn to connect them to the baby's hunger. It would be so much easier if the baby could just say, "Hey, I'm hungry!"
3 Let The Baby To Decide When To Eat
It's best to let the baby tell his parents when he's hungry. He knows how he feels. While it's definitely more convenient to feed baby on a 2-hour or 4-hour schedule, the baby may be hungry sooner or he may not be really hungry until later.
So, not only should he tell you when he's ready, he should tell you how much he wants, according to the WebMD blog. By trying to impose a schedule on a baby, this inhibits his body's ability to detect hunger on its own. Eventually, he "learns" to eat on his parents' schedule. He may over- or under-eat, which may also lead to weight issues later in his life. By allowing the baby to let his parents know when he's full, he'll learn to trust the signals from a full tummy. As he grows, his weight will easily fall within healthy limits.
2 Upper Body Movements
Stopping Colic says that, when a baby is hungry, he's more likely to move his upper body more than his lower. He'll move his arms more than his legs. His arms won't be very stiff—he'll just be moving them around more than if he didn't feel hungry.
He may arch his back a little bit. If he were to be suffering from colic, he would definitely be arching his back, trying to get away from the pain.
All of this additional movement may develop before baby begins to cry. But he may begin to grunt occasionally. Again, as mom and dad are trying to learn what their baby's communications mean, they need to categorize these movements as possible signals of hunger.
When the baby begins to make these upper body movements, his hunger is reaching the late stage. And his parents should feed him quickly.
1 But He Just Ate!
Yes. He's also a rapidly growing child. That seven or eight-pound newborn will soon weigh thirteen or fifteen pounds. This means he needs to eat often, says Tummy Calm. How often is "often?" According to Healthy Children, your baby should feed between eight and 12 times within a 24-hour period.
While mom and dad may not feel active hunger every two hours, their baby's stomach is tiny. He should finish a feeding within 15 to 20 minutes. He'll quickly digest that milk—and become hungry again. While that kind of schedule may seem to be much too often for an adult, it's normal for a newborn. If that same newborn is sleeping through the night without waking up at least once, he's not getting enough to drink.
New parents can be fooled when their child begins to fall asleep during his feeding. This is normal. They should just allow the baby to sleep and, when he wakes, offer the second boob for another feeding.
Sources: babygaga.com, kellymom.com, bellybelly.com.au, tummycalm.com, healthychildren.org, whattoexpect.com, livingandloving.co.za, todaysparent.com, strong4life.com, stoppingcolic.com, babycareadvice.com, Parents Magazine, babycenter.com, The Royal Children's Hospital, Secrets of Baby Behavior, Wikipedia, Video Blocks, motherandbaby.co.uk, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, livescience.com, baidata.com