Baby Doesn’t Give Hunger Cues [Reasons & Solutions]

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Sami S

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Baby Doesn’t Give Hunger Cues – Reasons & Solutions

 Infants commonly display hunger and fullness cues, making it easy for you to know when they need to or have had enough to eat. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) offers a useful guide to identify these cues from birth to 23 months. When a baby fails to show typical hunger signs, it can cause a caretaker to be stressed about their food intake. This article explores possible reasons why your baby may not be giving hunger cues.

Reason 1: 

 Newborn babies take time to adjust to the outside world and may not yet have a strong feeding pattern developed yet. New parents also need help recognizing early hunger cues.

 A new baby will take some time to establish a feeding pattern, and once they do, the cues will follow. First-time parents typically do not know what to look for and wait until the baby is crying for a sign that they are hungry.

Crying is actually a late-stage hunger cue which will make it harder to feed your baby since they are upset.

Reason 2:  

If your baby is tired or feeling unwell, they may have decreased activity levels and not exhibit any hunger cues.

In the first few days and even maybe weeks after coming home, newborns are often very drowsy and might not display hunger cues. Additionally, when a baby is feeling ill, their decreased energy levels can also prevent them from showing signs of hunger.

Solution 1:

Babies start to give hunger cues early on, though they may not be that noticeable to the untrained eye. By observing your baby’s behavior and movements, you can start to recognize their hunger cues.

 Some early hunger cues include them bringing their hands to their mouths, smacking their lips, becoming restless, or even moving their head around in search of food.

 Crying is a late-stage hunger cue, so it’s best to feed your baby before they reach this state, as they latch on better when they are calm.

Solution 2:

Even tired babies need to eat, so you must wake up your baby every 2-3 hours to ensure they are getting enough food. It is recommended that babies feed 8-10 times per day and at least once every night until they establish a healthy weight gain pattern.

Your healthcare provider can advise you if your baby is gaining the appropriate weight.

Signs of an underfed baby.

If you suspect your baby is not getting enough food, you should consult with your healthcare provider to figure out a solution to remedy this as soon as possible. Some signs of an underfed baby may include irritability, the constant need to be held, fewer than four wet diapers a day, infrequent bowel movements, low weight, and lethargy. 

 When should I worry about my baby not wanting to eat?

Suppose your baby shows signs of weight loss, a dry mouth, dark urine, or a general lack of interest in eating altogether. In that case, you should take your baby for a check-up immediately to ensure there are no serious issues.

What are three signs that your baby is hungry?

Newborns typically open and close their mouths, put their hands to their mouths or clench their hands when they are hungry. After six months, the hunger cues become much more apparent, and your child may move or make sounds to indicate hunger, point at food, or get visibly excited when they see food.

Do babies eat even if they aren’t hungry?


Some infants will eat if they are not hungry due to a variety of reasons. They are born with a strong instinct to suck and are also attracted to the scent a mother’s breast secretes, which can cause a baby to want to nurse even if they are not experiencing hunger.


Infants won’t always show hunger cues, but creating a routine and observing their behavior can help you ensure they are getting fed enough throughout the day. It takes patience to learn when to feed a newborn, but eventually, you will be able to recognize the signs they’re giving to show you that they are hungry.