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How To Tell If Your Baby Is Hungry Or Full

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Even before your child can talk, he or she will show signs of hunger or fullness by using sounds and movements. Crying is often a late sign of hunger. Look for other signs of hunger listed below so you can put your child to the breast or bottle while he or she is still calm. As your child gets older, he or she will develop new signs for hunger and fullness. Understanding your child’s signs is important to help you know when and how often to feed your child.

Below are some examples of signs your child may show for hunger and fullness when he or she is a newborn to 6 months old and signs your child may start to show between 6 to 24 months old:

 

Birth to 6 Months Old
Your child may be hungry if he or she:

  • Has clenched hands
  • Puts hands to mouth.
  • Turns head towards mom’s breast or bottle.
  • Puckers, smacks, or licks lips.

Your child may be full if he or she:

  • Relaxes hands.
  • Closes mouth.
  • Turns head away from mom’s breast or bottle.

 

6 to 24 Months Old

Your child may be hungry if he or she:

  • Reaches for or points to food.
  • Opens his or her mouth when offered a spoon or food.
  • Gets excited when he or she sees food.
  • Uses hand motions or makes sounds to let you know he or she is still hungry.
  • Your child may be full if he or she:
  • Pushes food away.
  • Closes his or her mouth when food is offered.
  • Turns his or her head away from food.
  • Uses hand motions or makes sounds to let you know he or she is full.

Let your child decide how much he or she wants. Your child does not need to finish a bottle or all of the food in the jar or on the plate. Food is not a good reward or punishment.

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse if you are concerned about how much or how little he or she is eating.

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