It’s no secret that breast feed feeding can sometimes be stressful for new mums. How do you tell when your baby is full?
The good news is that your baby is the single best authority for when he or she needs to be breast fed and when he is satisfied. Your baby’s internal regulator for hunger and fullness is fine-tuned to his or her particular energy needs.
That’s why rigidly counting the ounces of milk or the number of minutes per breast-feeding session isn’t the best way to calculate how much is enough. Instead, pay attention to your baby’s cues; their behavior will tell you when hungry and when full. Here are some pointers.
Signs That Your Baby Is Hungry
A hunger cry is usually short, low-pitched, and rises and falls. But crying is actually one of the later signs of hunger. You’ll notice other behavioral cues first (such as those below). By the time a hungry baby is wailing, he may be too stressed to start eating easily.
Waking up and acting restless
Before your baby launches into a full-throated hunger wail, he’ll wake up and move around in his crib. He may also move his mouth and raise his hands to his face.
Sucking on his fist, smacking his lips
If you feed a breast-fed baby when you see these signs, rather than waiting, he’ll latch on more easily.
During your baby’s first weeks, when you stroke his cheek, his natural reflex will be to turn toward the bottle or breast and make sucking motions with his mouth. After 4 months of age, rooting becomes a voluntary action rather than a reflex.
Opening his mouth while feeding
“More, please!” A hungry baby may continue to show interest in sucking even after finishing the first breast or bottle.
Smiling during feeding
Babies older than 4 months will show their interest in continuing to eat by looking at you and smiling as they feed.
Signs That Your Baby Is Full
Just as a hungry baby suckles readily, a full baby zips his lips, as if to say, “No more, thanks.”
Turning his head away. A more forceful version of closing his lips is to move his entire head away from the food source. If your baby turns away from your breast or a bottle, you shouldn’t force him to eat.
Decreasing or stopping sucking
Some full babies will stay latched on to the nipple but not suck any more—at which point, it’s time to gently end the session.
Spitting out the nipple or falling asleep when full. After about 15 to 20 minutes of feeding, a full baby will often act drowsy and may even fall asleep.
Showing increasing interest in surroundings rather than eating
At around 4 months old many babies begin to get distracted during feedings, as their awareness of the world around them grows.
When he begins looking around more distractedly, it’s a sign he’s had plenty.