You are first time parents and you have just arrived home with your brand new baby. You are settling in nicely when your baby begins crying hysterically from her bassinet. The peace and tranquility that filled your house only seconds ago is gone. You and your partner exchange looks and both wonder, "what on earth is wrong with her all of the sudden?"
A baby will let you know when they are hungry, it is up to the parent or caregiver to recognize the signs. Every baby communicates their needs differently which is why is it crucial for parents and caregivers to learn their babies unique hunger cues. There are numerous ways babies tell us they are hungry. You can tell your baby is hungry when they begin smacking their lips, making a sucking movement with their mouth and/or sticking out their tongue. Some babies will suck on their hands and fingers (or someone else's fingers) or the nearest object in the futile attempt at receiving nourishment. Babies have a rooting reflex which causes them to turn their head from side to side in search of a breast. The rooting reflex can be easily triggered by gently stroking a baby's cheek. Typically, a baby's cries are the last in a series of missed signals to notify the parent or caregiver they are hungry. Before crying a baby may try to alert their parent or caregiver of their hunger by grunting or whimpering which will eventually turn to cries if the issue is not resolved.
It is important to remember that it is common for young babies to eat frequently, day and night, so although they may have recently eaten they may still be hungry. If the baby has been fed but continues to cry it is important for the parent or caregiver to identify the reason for distress. There are many reasons a baby may cry which may lead a parent or caregiver to believe the baby is still hungry. Some alternative reasons for crying which should be considered are; the baby is too hot or too cold, gas pains, teething, seeking comfort, itchy, tired, dirty diaper, overstimulated or generally not feeling well. It is the opinion of some that after the above scenarios have been addressed and the baby continues to cry then the baby is crying for no reason other than to cry. It is then up to the parent or caregiver to decide the appropriate course of action to handle the situation.
When asking yourself if your baby is hungry, to the babies first cues of hunger before waiting to the point of crying. Remember that hand and finger sucking, smacking lips and rooting are often the first signs a baby is hungry.
When asking yourself if your baby is hungry, first learn your babies cues and be attentive and responsive as quickly as possible, instead of waiting to the point of crying. Remember that hand and finger sucking, smacking lips and rooting are often the first signs a baby is hungry. If your baby refuses to eat check for other possible reasons of pain or discomfort.