Noticing and responding to hunger cues is an art. What is baby trying to tell you?


Crying can be one of the most obvious cues babies give when they are hungry, but crying does not always signal hunger. Babies cry when they are frightened, cold, bored, tired, want to be held… you name it! Crying is one of baby’s primary ways of communicating needs and wants. When hunger is the reason for crying, we can often observe earlier cues baby was ready to eat. Generally, crying is a very late hunger cue.


In the early weeks and months, babies typically wake when they are hungry. A few minutes before waking, you may notice your baby beginning to stir a lot. Baby may begin wiggling all around or moving the head from left to right and back again. These are cues your baby will be waking soon, and if it has been awhile since the last feeding, ready to eat.


Rooting is the term used to describe the mouthing and searching behaviors babies display when they are hungry. This can look like mouthing a caregiver’s chin, shoulder, hand, or shirt. Rooting can sometimes be confused with a baby’s desire to satisfy their oral fixation. If it has been some time since your baby last fed, offer to nurse.

If you need personalized help understanding your baby’s hunger cues, book your lactation appointment today, we are happy to help!