Get to Know Your Baby’s Feeding Signals

Babies are incredibly in tune with their hunger cues, far more so than most grown ups. Over time, we have learned to over eat, and to ignore the signs from our bodies that we are full. Babies are still able to listen to their bodies effectively, but often overeager parents have difficulty trusting those cues. Step back and put down the spoon; your baby will tell you when it’s time to eat, and when he is done.

Your Baby Won’t Starve.

Remember all those night wakings when your baby wailed for food until you came running to provide it? They might be (at least mostly) a thing of the past, but it doesn’t mean your baby is any less able to tell you when he is hungry. When your baby wants to eat, he will make absolutely sure you know about it.

Many parents become frustrated with a baby who refuses baby food time and time again, shutting his mouth firmly and turning away from the spoon. You might feel certain that your baby must be hungry, but your baby feels even more certain that he is not. If your baby refuses food, he probably isn’t just being stubborn, although it can feel that way. He really just doesn’t want the food. Try again in a little while, and you might get better results.

No matter how sure you are that you know better than your baby what he needs to eat, you should never force feed a child. Forcing a baby to eat when he is not hungry will cause him to lose touch with those important hunger cues that will prevent over eating and thus obesity and other health problems. Even if he only eats two bites and then clams up, let it go. You have to trust your baby to know what he needs.

Picking Up on Hunger Cues

Your baby’s most obvious hunger cues are already easy for you to notice. Young babies might root around, chew on a fist, or of course cry. As your baby gets older and is eating solids, however, some of these instinctive hunger cues will start to fade, leaving the crying as the clear signal that baby is hungry. Most of the time, you won’t want to wait until your baby cries to get some food in her.

A feeding schedule is very helpful in older infants to prevent them from becoming so hungry they resort to tears. However, there may be other signs baby is trying to tell you she is hungry, even if you think it isn’t time to eat. If your baby becomes distracted from a task, or watches you eating intently, it might mean she is looking for a snack as well. Soon, your baby will develop the ability to tell you she wants something to eat, but in the meantime, attention to her moods and keeping to a schedule are the best ways to avoid a really hungry, upset baby. Especially at the age just before talking or gesturing really take off, it can be very frustrating to a baby to know what she wants but be unable to express it! Watch your baby carefully for behaviors that might occur right before she eats a good meal. Every baby has a unique way of trying to get your attention.

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