Monday, January 14, 2013

Reader's Question: Infant Feeding Cues

While we were away over the holiday, we received an email from a reader with twin 5-month olds with the following question:

I sometimes have trouble being able to tell when they're hungry, sleepy or sleepy and hungry at the same time. I haven't mastered naps with them, and sometimes they fall asleep nursing. Also, some cues like sticking their hands in their mouths can’t be used as much now since they do that so much at this stage. What are common clustered hunger cues?
Confusion about hunger and fullness cues is very common. After all, babies do not come with instruction manuals.  We hope this short post will help this reader and others who are learning to read their babies’ cues!

What are common clustered hunger cues?
A hungry baby will give several cues together to let caregivers know that they are hungry. Here is a list of common hunger cues.

·         Clenched fingers & fists over chest & tummy

·         Flexed arms & legs

·         Rooting

·         Fast breathing

·         Sucking noises/motions

·         Getting into the feeding position

The reader’s babies are about 5 months old. At this age, babies are very efficient at eating and may feed for a very short period of time before they are full. Although this is great news for busy parents, it can cause concern for parents who don’t know and think their babies should still spend the same amount of time eating.

Is my baby tired or hungry or both?
When babies start looking tired, the will start to show disengagement cues. If this happens during a feeding, it usually means the baby is getting full. Just as a reminder, here is a list of fullness cues and disengagement cues.

Fullness Cues
·         Arms and legs extended

·         Fingers extended and relaxed

·         Pushing away

·         Falling asleep

·         Slow or decreased sucking

·         Back arching

Disengagement cues
·         Irregular breathing

·         Open and closes eyes

·         Eyes glazed

·         Takes time to react

·         Easily startled

Nursing to Sleep
We talked about this topic in a past post. Click here to read all about it!

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