Signs That Baby is Hungry: Newborn Hunger Cues

Signs that baby is hungry - newborn hunger cues image

When it comes to feeding your precious little one, you might be wondering if it’s best to feed on a schedule or respond to your baby’s cues. Embracing the early days, weeks, and months with your newborn is a journey of learning and understanding, especially in feeding. Let’s talk about signs that your baby is hungry.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Can I Just Feed Baby On a Schedule?

The most nurturing approach, especially in the early stages, is on-demand feeding. This means tuning into your baby’s hunger cues and feeding them when they show signs of hunger, like lip-licking, tongue-sticking, rooting, or sucking on hands. On-demand feeding is not just about nutrition; it’s about warmth, comfort, and nurturing too. This approach is beneficial for bringing in a full milk supply and ensuring your baby gets enough milk to grow properly. Each baby is unique, and their intake can vary throughout the day. It’s about following your baby’s lead and providing what they need, when they need it.

Scheduled feedings, where you feed the baby at fixed intervals regardless of their cues, can sometimes disrupt the natural breastfeeding relationship and the baby’s health and growth patterns. It may not account for growth spurts when babies feed more often, which could impact your milk supply and the baby’s growth needs. Plus, scheduled feeding misses out on the comfort and bonding breastfeeding offers.

About Newborns’ Eating Habits

How Often Do Newborns Eat?

In the first few weeks, if your baby is excessively sleepy due to factors like prematurity or jaundice, it’s best to gently wake them for feedings every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night. This helps ensure they get back to birth weight by two weeks, after which you can fully embrace on-demand feeding. Later on, your baby may go through periods of time when they are feeding every hour, known as cluster feeding. Just follow their lead, trusting that your baby’s body knows best.

How Much Do Newborns Eat?

How much your baby eats at once changes as she grows. Her tummy is very small at first and grows as she does. If you’re breastfeeding, you may not ever really know how much baby is eating, but the amount taken at each feeding looks something like this (2):

  • First day or two – 1/2 ounce
  • The first weeks, after that initial day or two – 1 to 2 ounces
  • At two weeks of age – 2 to 3 ounces
  • Two months of age – 4 to 5 ounces
  • Four months of age – 4 to 6 ounces
  • Six months of age – up to 8 ounces and may have spaced up to four to five hours between feedings

Signs That Baby is Hungry

Is Crying a Sign That Baby Is Hungry?

Crying is a late sign that your baby is hungry. Try to keep an eye for the more subtle cues that your baby needs to eat. If you can tune in to your baby’s needs and fix any problems before baby escalates to crying, it will make life smoother for both of you..

So, What Are the Signs That Baby Is Hungry?

Here are the subtle, non-crying ways your baby may be telling you that they’re hungry:

  • Rooting. This means turning her head and opening her mouth toward anything that touches her face.
  • Bringing her hand to her face/mouth.
  • Opening her mouth and moving her tongue in a thrusting motion.
  • Smacking her lips.
  • Becoming more active; moving her body a lot.

While on-demand feeding can initially feel overwhelming, with your baby seeming to feed almost constantly, this intensity usually settles down. As your baby grows, they’ll likely develop a more predictable pattern.

If you notice signs that baby is hungry, offer the breast or bottle. And as with any questions or concerns about feeding baby, make sure to lean on your pediatrician and look for a lactation consultant, La Leche League, or other breastfeeding support in your area. You and baby will figure out this feeding relationship, and it’ll be second nature in no time!

Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for natural childbirth in the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class to learn more about preparing for natural childbirth. 


  1. “How Much and How Often to Breastfeed.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Apr. 2022,
  2. “How Often and How Much Should Your Baby Eat?”,

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Meet Katie Griffin

I’m a registered nurse, Lamaze certified childbirth educator, and the mother of 7. I help women realize their dream of a natural, intimate, and empowering hospital birth.

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When it comes to feeding your precious little one, you might be wondering if it’s best to feed on a schedule or respond to your baby’s cues. Embracing the early