When babies cry they are trying to communicate with us. They are often hungry, tired, have a soiled diaper, or perhaps are too hot or cold. How can a new parent possibly know if the cry is out of hunger? Here are some newborn feeding cues that your infant will communicate with you to announce they are hungry. 

1. Rooting 

This is a newborn reflex that is easy to identify and is one way in which your baby can let you know that they are hungry. Rooting involves your  baby turning their head side to side with an open mouth. Another sign of rooting is moving or sometimes bobbing their head near a food source with an open mouth.  

2. Putting their Hands in the Mouth 

When your baby’s hands are clenched in a fist and their muscle tone is tight – this is another feeding cue. They will bring their clenched fists to their mouth also as an indicator that they are hungry. 

3. Lip Smacking & Tongue Sticking Out 

When you see your baby sticking their tongue out and/or smacking their lips this is another sign that they are hungry. Sticking out their tongue will be subtle, as they’re still learning how to use it, but you will be able to see it more as they grow. 

4. Increase in Movement 

Newborn babies sleep often. An early newborn feeding cue to let you know they are getting or already are hungry is seen when they begin to stir in their sleep, along with displaying the other cues listed above. Babies move and twitch during different stages of sleep, so don’t jump in right away as they could be trying to connect sleep cycles. How you will be able to differentiate if they are hungry is, more and continued movement. They will begin wiggling, they may break out of their swaddle. This then leads to even more movement, like kicking their legs. 

5. Crying 

This is a late hunger cue. Babies cry, it is the only way to for then to communicate with their caregivers. You will know their cry is a newborn feeding cue if they are displaying all the other cues listed above as well. Crying with clenched fists, active body movements, mouth open, moving their head from side to side, and towards the food source are newborn feeding cues. This is your baby’s way to let you know that they are ready to eat!   

Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny provides many newborn services. If you are looking for lactation support or hiring a Newborn Care Expert, email us today at info@bostonbabynurse.com. We want to support you every step of the way, from birth and beyond!

About The Author

Olivia Wojcik BSN RN IBCLC graduated summa cum laude and has been a nurse working with mothers and babies for 8 years. She is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and specializes in infant & newborn feeding and education. She is a trained sleep coach, newborn care expert, and a level II reiki practitioner. Her biggest accomplishment and the one of which she is the most proud, is being the mother to two beautiful girls.