Signs Your Baby is Hungry - How to Read Hunger Cues

Signs Your Baby is Hungry - How to Read Hunger Cues

Understanding babies and their needs seems like a herculean task. These little munchkins cannot convey their emotions through words and that is why we need to keep up with their cute gestures. You must know when they need a diaper change, medicines, or just some attention. Moreover, one of the toughest things to do is handling babies when they are hungry.

The common notion here is that they cry due to hunger. However, this is not always the case. Putting hands in their mouth and getting fussy are also among the many signs a baby is hungry. The crying part generally takes place at a stage where they are extremely hungry for a long time. So, do not wait till that moment because by then, it might seem impossible to calm them down.

How To Understand Babies When They Are Hungry?

Kids have an advanced lingo to communicate their requirements, particularly hunger. When they feel slightly hungry, you will begin noticing its early signs like making mmm sounds and putting their hand to their mouth. Being patient with babies when they are hungry is extremely relevant. Generally, they must be fed every 2-4 hours and that is why kids will potentially signify hunger during the same timeframe. 

Please note that you, as a parent, are also growing with your baby. So, do not feel guilty of not knowing when they are hungry. Parenthood takes time, patience, and a lot of perseverance. Try to spend at least 1-2 hours solely with your baby. Wondering how to know baby is hungry? talk to him/her, observe the reactions, and you will get better at this. 

Myth or True: Do Babies Cry When They Are Hungry?

Oh, the baby is crying, he/she is hungry! We all have heard this before. Yes, it is true, babies cry when they are hungry but it usually happens when they have not eaten for a long time. Crying means they are famished and are possibly frustrated too. Needlessly, it becomes difficult to handle them at this stage. Crying is one of the most typical signs newborn is hungry but being too tense makes breastfeeding tough. Crying may make them exhausted and that is why they might not want to feed after that. So, keep a notice and feed them before they start crying.

Here is How You Can Detect Your Baby’s Hunger?

Yes, babies cannot speak but they know how to convey their needs. You can trust the non-verbal signs used to signify their hunger. 

As soon as you get signals from babies when they are hungry, keep a bottle nearby or start breastfeeding. If they respond, it is fine and if they do not, you know something else is bothering them. 

If they show at least one of these signs, know that hunger might be the primary reason. 

1. Putting Hands to Mouth 

Is your baby continuously putting his/her hands or fists into the mouth? Well, you must try feeding here. Sometimes, babies even start putting other things in their mouths as well. 

2. Consistently Crying

Undeniably, babies cry when they are hungry. If they wail uncontrollably even after a diaper change or cradling, breastfeed them. Hunger may be the reason here. 

3. Turning To Bottle or Breast

What would you do if your baby continuously moved his/her fingers and arms near his mouth? It is normal for babies when they are hungry to search for a bottle or mother’s breast. This is called “rooting.”

4. Sucking

Sucking his/her fingers, or clothing, or making sucking noises and motions is indeed a cute way to show their hunger. Actively sucking on a pacifier? Time to feed the baby!

5. Mouth Or Tongue Movements

Sometimes, even a tiny gesture of your baby indicates his/her need. One of the most misunderstood baby hunger cues is opening or smacking their lips, drooling more, or moving their tongues. Parents think the baby is just being cute, but they need food. 

6. Alertness

Who doesn't love an active kid? However, if the baby starts acting more active than usual, it happens maybe because they need to be fed. They also keep their eyes open to show that they need something. 

7. Clenching Hands

Unlike adults, clenching hands is not a sign of anger but hunger for babies. It is a common sign to understand in babies when they are hungry. 

8. Acting Restless After Waking Up

Before they start wailing, babies might wake up and try to move around in the crib. Keep an eye on babies when they are hungry and take quick action. 

How To Tell If A Baby Is Still Hungry After Breastfeeding?

Babies cry when they are hungry even after breastfeeding.

Kids, especially newborns, feel tired or sleep longer than usual. 

Still, moving around and stretching after feeding? This is another sign to spot in babies when they are hungry. 

Too short or too long feedings do not satisfy them making for a hungry newborn baby. They give up after a few minutes or they continue to try for a longer period.

Gaining weight is impossible for babies when they are hungry even after getting breastfeeding. 

Finished breastfeeding the baby but he/she is still cranky? If your kid is licking or smacking lips even after getting fed, try it again as they may still be hungry.


It can take some time, but you will soon start learning what your kid is telling you. They will tell you when they are full and when they are hungry. Yes, babies cry when they are hungry, but their cues start long before that. In case you are unable to feed the kid properly, he/she will let you know in time. Burp your baby after feeding to ensure they are comfortable. Take your munchkin for regular checkups and have patience with newborn baby hungry signs. Also, let the kid decide how much he/she wants as food is not a punishment or reward. If you are facing difficulty in handling babies when they are hungry, contact the baby’s pediatrician.

Back to blog

Related Post