As you take care of your newborn, learning his behaviors and cues will be an important process. Determining when a baby is hungry involves watching for signs that tell you he is uncomfortable and wants to suck. If you watch your little one carefully, you will also learn how to tell when he is full and doesn’t need or want any more milk.
Note your baby’s rate of sucking to determine fullness. When a baby first starts eating and feels hungry, sucking will be rhythmic and rapid with noticeable swallowing. As your baby becomes less hungry, sucking will slow and swallowing will become less apparent, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Your baby may pause between sucks, also, as she becomes full.
Watch to see if your baby pulls away from the nipple, acting relaxed and satisfied. You might see a look of satisfaction on his face and he could clamp his lips together with a disinterest in eating.
Notice other behaviors that indicate fullness. No longer sucking actively, turning her head away, closing her eyes and falling asleep are common behaviors of a satisfied baby. Sometimes a baby may look around the room quietly when she feels full and other times her full tummy could lull her off to sleep.
Determine how much your baby ate. If you are formula-feeding, a newborn will eat between 1.5 and 3 ounces of formula at each feeding, according to KidsHealth. If you are breastfeeding, feel your breasts after breastfeeding to determine if they feel emptied. If your baby did not consume enough formula or one or both breasts still feel full, your baby may not be completely full and he may rouse himself to eat again in a short time.
Whenever your breastfed baby remains actively latched, sucking and swallowing, it’s safe to assume he’s still hungry, advises the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.