HUNGRY BABY

Common Baby Hunger Cues

Why does my baby wake so often?

Babies who wake up often due to hunger may be at risk of overfeeding and weight gain.

Babies who are fed milk alone (either breast milk or formula) need to feed often throughout the day to receive enough nourishment and energy to fuel their rapid growth and development.

For many babies, feeding every 4 hours or more leaves them feeling satisfied until the next meal. They sleep well and the timing of their hunger cues means they wake rested for their next feed. Some babies may start to feel hungry much sooner, finding it hard to settle.

Is my baby hungry?

Understandably, tired, hungry babies feel grumpy and tend to cry more. Hungry babies may wake frequently, sleeping only for brief periods before waking and crying for another feed or sucking your hand. When your newborn wants to feed every hour you can quickly become exhausted, and constant crying may become stressful for you and your family.

If your formula-fed baby is hungry and demanding extra feeds, you may notice they’re gaining more weight than they should.

How can I settle my hungry baby?

When your baby seems constantly hungry it can be tempting to introduce solids early, but this should be avoided as your baby’s digestive system may not have fully matured.

Some other things you can try to help your baby feel satisfied are:

  • Try not to let your baby fall asleep while feeding, if they do they’ll be much more likely to wake from hunger later on.

  • Slow feeding time down to give your baby’s fullness signals time to kick in. You can do this by using a slower teat or giving your baby breaks during the feed.

  • If your baby is crying while feeding or won’t take the bottle, try walking around while you’re feeding them and experiment with different teats. Be patient, it may take a little trial and error to find a position and a teat that works for you and your baby.

  • Try giving your baby a little water. Although formula-fed babies usually receive enough fluids from their feeds (provided formula is prepared correctly), offering your baby an extra 30–60 mL of cooled, boiled water once or twice a day may help respond to their feeding cues.

    

What else can I do?

Try the following settling techniques to encourage your baby to sleep:

  • Offer your baby a dummy to help them satisfy their sucking needs in between feeds.

  • Try a warm bath before bedtime, followed by a gentle massage

  • Play some soft music in your baby’s room

Speak to your healthcare professional, or early childhood nurse if you are concerned or need extra help.

Learn more about how you can manage a Hungry Baby