Do You Know Your Baby’s “Baby Cues”?

This post was inspired by a family friend.  Recently, my cousin called me to see if I had any spare formula.  Since I received multiple samples in the mail, and I nurse, I was like, “Sure, why?” She told me her wife’s daughter’s baby keep running out of formula.

The nurse in me couldn’t help herself, and began investigating asking a zillion questions…”Don’t she get WIC?” “How much is she feeding the baby?” “Does he throw up a lot?”  She informed me the baby does get WIC, the baby eats all the time, as much as two 8 ounce bottles back to back, and he does throw up a lot.  Immediately, I told her, “OMG, she is soooooooo overfeeding that baby!”

Well according to my cousin, the mom, my great aunt, and my cousin’s wife, I was CRAZY! The baby eats it, so he must be hungry.  I, the nurse, certified NCAST feeding nurse, maternal-child nurse know nothing, and they know everything!  Just an update, this baby is currently over 20 POUNDS, 4 MONTHS OLD! (I rest my case).

The Princess as a Baby (Baby Buddah)

I do want to point out that overfeeding is more common in bottle-fed babies because the milk is free-flowing and it takes less effort.  Also, even when baby is finished eating, a parent has the ability to offer more formula even if it’s not needed or wanted.  Here is where a parent needs to pay attention to baby cues for hunger and satiation.

So here are so clues to know if your baby is GENUINELY HUNGRY

Early Cues

  • Opening closing mouth
  • Sucking on fingers or clothes
  • Smacking mouth or licking lips
Active Cues
  • Rooting
  • Attempting to get in nursing position
  • Squirming Fidgeting
  • Fussy
  • Breathing fast
Late Cues
  • Crying
  • Frantic rooting, turning head side to side
Typically  your baby needs to exhibit 3 or more of these Hunger Cues to be considered hungry.  Crying alone does not always equal hungry.  Also, just because the baby sucks the bottle, does not mean he’s hungry.  Sucking is comfort for babies, so many times a baby will take a bottle offered and don’t really want or need it.  That’s where the good ol’ pacifier comes in handy.
Here are signs of offering more than baby needs or wants.
  • Throwing up a lot after feedings- while some babies have reflux, sometimes babies throw up a lot due to overfeeding
  • Refusing bottle- some babies will turn their head away from the bottle or push it out
  • Wasting Bottle- while the baby may take the bottle, usually they won’t drink it all, they end up wasting more than they eat
  • Relaxed body- when a baby is full their body will be totally relaxed with arms and legs extended.

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