Feeding cues

Many people believe that babies let us know they are hungry by crying. Although this is true, babies let us know long before they start crying that they are hungry. They do this through subtle movements called early feeding cues. Examples of early feeding cues include:

Early feeding cues

Stirring and/or rapid eye movements

Mouth opening

Rooting (opening their mouth as though they are about to feed) or head turning


Mid feeding cues

Stretching or yawning

Increased movement

Hands to mouth and/or sucking fingers and fists


Late feeding cues


Agitated body

Colour turning red


As you get to know your baby, you will begin to recognise their individual feeding cues. When you notice these feeding cues, it is important that you feed your baby as soon as possible. If your baby is agitated and has started crying, it can be more difficult to encourage your baby to feed. If this is the case, take time to calm your baby down (you may find having some skin-to-skin time helps), then try feeding them again.

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