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Thread: Advice on hunger cues and knowing when baby is full

  1. #1

    Default Advice on hunger cues and knowing when baby is full

    Hi all. I'm a newbie and first time mum to Toby who is 3 weeks 5days.

    Breast feeding is now going well although the first 2wks were a struggle. He is gaining weight like a trooper!

    I am just looking for some advice on hunger cues. As Toby is getting older he is having more periods where he is awake, however I feel like whenever he is awake he seems hungry! When we sit and 'play' together he opens and closes his mouth and breathes quite fast... Are these hunger cues? Other times it is more obvious.. He goes for his hands and starts making little moans. He loves to nurse and I honestly feel like he would do at any given opportunity! Is this normal??

    Another thing I am wondering about is knowing when he is full. Sometimes he will fall asleep after 5 mins on the breast and be really hard to wake up. Most of the time he nurses for around 40mins taking both breasts, so if he doesn't take as long I worry he's not had enough. This isn't a problem in the day but at night I don't want him to wake up after 20mins and want feeding again. We only manage 2 hours at a push at night anyway! So I guess my question is should I try and get him to nurse for longer when he has these short feeds or is he just having a 'snack'?

    Any advice would be appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    622

    Default Re: Advice on hunger cues and knowing when baby is full

    I would say that as long as he's gaining well and having enough wet and poopy diapers, you're ok to feed on demand. Totally normal for a baby that little to want to constantly nurse. It could also be the 3 week growth spurt at the moment, and he could be starting to get more efficient. There's nothing wrong with offering to nurse, even if baby isn't hungry! I wouldn't worry about trying to get him to nurse for longer in the middle of the night - enjoy the sleep you can get!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,997

    Default Re: Advice on hunger cues and knowing when baby is full

    Welcome and congratulations on the new baby!

    As the PP said, it is entirely normal for new babies (and even a lot of older babies) to nurse very frequently. Breastmilk digests quickly, infant tummies are tiny, and "snacking" is actually a totally normal eating pattern for an infant, particularly during growth spurts when the infant's need for milk increases. It's only older children and adults who can be expected to eat infrequent large meals.

    Hunger cues are something that will change with time. Newborns often have very reliable cues- rooting, mouthing, hand-sucking, etc. Older babies tend to lose this instinctive "vocabulary" and develop different ways of communicating their hunger (up to and including things like using the ASL "milk" sign or a special nursing word). If you're in doubt about what your LO wants, nursing is always the right thing to do- if he's not hungry, he won't eat or will not eat for every long.

    Don't worry about baby being "full" all the time. It's really hard to figure out when a baby has nursed enough to enable you to button your shirt all the way back up. But that's normal for a newborn, and as long as the baby is gaining weight well and seeming happy and healthy, there's no reason to worry. Allowing the baby to set his own intake, and to learn when he's full and when he needs more- that's a really good skill to teach, one that will last him his entire life!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,471

    Default Re: Advice on hunger cues and knowing when baby is full

    edit-i probably am just repeating what mommal said but i already typed it so..Congrats on dear baby!

    There is no reason to differentiate between 'hunger' cues or anything else. offer to nurse at every cue. If baby refuses to nurse or is still fussy, try other comfort measures. You can also follow your own instinctual cues. Cues to nurse come from mom and baby.

    It is normal for a baby to nurse, conk out, then wake up again 20 minutes later needing a top off. This is normal. As your baby gets older, he will be able to sleep for longer stretches. But not usually in the early weeks.

    What your baby is doing during the first 6-8 weeks is bringing in your full milk production. He is also growing at an incredible rate. pp mentioned 'growth spurts' but just imo this whole early period is one long growth spurt. Many babies are sleepy in the first two weeks or so, and then it's off to the races. This is a vital time, and baby 'should' in general be allowed to nurse as much as baby will. If you are exhausted and need a break, take one of course! But your baby wanting to nurse pretty much constantly day and night is entirely normal. You will start to see patterns and longer sleep stretches emerge.

    This article covers these early weeks nicely http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/
    short one on feeding cues http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...eding_cues.pdf

    laid back positioning or sidelying can help mom get more rest while nursing.

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