Navigating the new world of parenting is both an exciting and overwhelming place to be.
For new mothers who are choosing to breastfeed, there are extra questions and new things to learn as your body and your baby begin to work together anew.
One of the most common questions every new, nursing mother will have is how to tell if baby is still hungry after breastfeeding.
It can be easy to think at first that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat, and as mothers, our first instinct is usually to blame ourselves.
Relax mom, it isn’t always your fault and your precious newborn isn’t always hungry.
The best thing you can do it to educate yourself and know what to do if they truly are hungry
how to spot when they are truly full
and what to do if they are full, but still want to nurse.
How to Tell if Baby is Still Hungry after Breastfeeding
There are no ‘special post-nursing’ signs of hunger that your baby will give off.
If you’re worried that your baby is still hungry, look for the normal signs:
Fussing or Crying
If you think your baby is done nursing, but they come off crying or begin to fuss shortly thereafter, they are either hungry or have a little gas.
Spend some time coaxing a burp out, and if they continue to fuss, let them continue to nurse.
Opening their Mouth
One of not-so-subtle, universal signs of hunger is when a little baby opens and closes their mouth repeatedly.
They can also supplement this gesture by sticking out their tongue.
Moving their Head and/or Rooting
A consistent back-and-forth motion of the head will readily signal that your baby is hungry – before or after nursing.
While their eyesight may not be good, they are ‘looking’ for food.
They will also often ‘root’ around your chest, looking for their precious food source.
Babies who are a tiny bit older will find their fists or hands and actively suck on them when hungry.
Newbies and older babies alike will also pucker their lips as if sucking air.
If your baby exhibits any of these either singularly, or combined with each other, there is a high chance your baby is still hungry.
For some, such as fussing, you can work to rule out hunger as it may be related to something else (such as gas).
It may be hard to determine if your baby is hungry or wants something else at first. Don’t worry Mom!
With care and attention, you and your new little family member will work things out.
How to tell if my Baby is Full
It is important to know the signs of hunger in your baby in order to provide proper care and ensure he or she is fed in a timely manner.
However, it is just as important to know when they are full.
This will help you determine if your baby is hungry, or if you can rule out hunger.
Here are some key signs that your baby is full.
#1 Moves your nipple out of his/her mouth:
Much like a toddler rejecting a spoon (which will happen more often than you think!)
a baby who is full will push your nipple out of their mouth, essentially ending the meal.
Depending on how adept they are, they may also detach their suckling grip, but keep it in their mouth.
This is a sure-fire sign that they are full… at least, for the moment.
#2 Falls Asleep:
A full, content baby often drifts sweetly into sleep after their meal.
Their belly is full, the scent of mommy is close, and often they are snuggled into a nice, warm place.
It’s enough to put anyone to sleep really.
If your baby falls asleep mid-nurse, it’s safe to say that they are full.
Note: If you’re nursing at night, a sleeping baby doesn’t always mean a full baby.
Make sure they’ve gotten some average nursing time in before they drift off to dreamland again in order to help them sleep the longest period of time.
This will help you sleep better at night too.
If your baby has a tendency to fall asleep during night feedings, but wakes up more often because they are still hungry
gently stroke their cheek or softly talk to them in order to keep them awake long enough to have a full belly before you let them fall back asleep.
#3 Looks Content:
This may take some time and a little bit of intuition, but you’ll begin to see when your baby looks content after eating.
This signifies that they are full.
If they didn’t fall asleep after eating, a content baby will often be alert and responsive, without the fuss.
You may even get a little smile out of them when their tummy is full.
#4 Good Diaper Flow:
Not something that you can use to gauge if your baby is full immediately after eating
but in general, if your baby is meeting their daily diaper quota (which varies by age), it’s safe to say that they are eating well.
What to do when Your Baby is still Hungry after Breastfeeding
If you have gone through your list and believe that your baby is still hungry after breastfeeding, don’t worry.
It’s not unusual for babies to still be hungry after they finish their meal.
Here are a few things to do if your baby is still hungry after breastfeeding:
#1 Feed them Again:
One thing that you can do, time and schedule permitting, is to feed on demand.
This will depend in part on how old your baby is, but it allows your little one to get the amount of food they need at the right time.
A baby’s stomach is only the size of an egg when they are month old, and it’s even smaller from birth-1month.
It’s normal for them to want to eat often, because they don’t really eat too much at a time.
Feeding on demand is recommended, depending on the age of the baby.
Baby’s stomachs are quite small (only the size of an egg when they are 1 month old), so eating often is not surprising.
#2 Check Your Milk Supply:
It happens to the best of us, our milk supply ebbs and flows for every which reason.
If you do find that your supply is running low or that your baby is growing and needs more than before, don’t worry.
Nursing your baby more often will trigger your body to produce more milk.
Make sure you’re getting enough water yourself, as this is the basis for your milk production.
If you are drinking enough water and still find that your body isn’t keeping up, talk with a lactation specialist, or your OBGYN.
#3 Make Sure Your Baby is Latched/Sucking Properly:
If your baby wants to breastfeed once you’re done and they are exhibiting signs of hunger, check to see if they are latched on properly.
The thick, nutrient-rich milk your body produces generally comes out last.
If your baby isn’t sucking properly, they won’t reach this.
This will leave them hungry, even after they’ve nursed.
You’ll also want to make sure your baby is paying attention – yes – and nurses long enough to get the best milk.
My Baby isn’t Hungry, But They Still Want to Breastfeed Constantly… Why are they Crying and What do I do?
Breastfeeding does more than just feed your baby.
It is their source of comfort and stability too.
One of the main reasons why some babies want to breastfeed constantly is that they just want mommy close.
It can seem draining and time-consuming, but you and your little one will need to find a happy medium between nursing for food and snuggling for comfort.
Depending on the age of your baby, you may be able to introduce a security blanket and/or a stuffed animal.
Babies can be taught to associate comfort and security with this too, and it will help take some of the demand for mommy away.
Outside of feelings of security, there are two other things to consider when your baby constantly wants to nurse:
#1 Make sure they are getting enough sleep.
Being tired is a big trigger that prompts the clinginess and desire for snuggling.
#2 Make sure that your baby has a schedule and that it’s being followed.
If their schedule is being disrupted
or if they don’t have one, life can seem too unpredictable and they will want the security and constancy of mommy and ‘their’ nipple.
Being a mother and nursing your baby is a beautiful thing.
Like anything new, there will be a learning curve that you’ll have to follow.
One of the things you will learn is how to tell if baby is still hungry after breastfeeding.
If you pay close attention to your baby, and are patient with him/her and yourself, you’ll quickly learn when they are hungry vs when they just want to snuggle.
Time passes quickly… enjoy each moment as you watch your little one grow up; above all, be patient and don’t worry. You’ve got this Mom.
- How to keep baby awake while breastfeeding?
- How to Increase Breast Milk Supply?
- Tips To Increase Breast Milk Production
- How Long Can a Baby Go Without Pooping?
- Nap time for 3-month-olds
- Good positions for breastfeeding
- Neonatal stomach volume and physiology suggest feeding at 1-h intervals
- Rapid Maturation of Gastric Relaxation in Newborn Infants
- The First Month: Feeding and Nutrition
- Decreased Milk Supply
- Breastfeeding FAQs: Getting Started