Food is an essential part of living. Every person needs food to fuel them for their daily tasks and give them a burst of energy.
When it comes to babies 6 months and under, their primary energy sources are breast milk or baby formula. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended age for solid foods is 6 months old. So before your kid hits that milestone, they first have to settle with milk.
But you’ll be surprised by just how strong an infant’s appetite can get. You might even worry if you’re overfeeding your child. So how do you handle a hungry tiny tot, even after nursing?
How to Tell if My Baby is Hungry
Young babies can’t speak just yet, so they can’t verbalize how hungry they are to you. Instead, you have to watch out for non-verbal hunger cues.
Most parents think of crying when a baby is hungry. But other hunger cues come first. In fact, crying is a sign of distress, and you will need to calm your baby first before feeding. Crying will also make it harder for an infant to latch.
Usually, hunger cues will look like the following:
- Mouth opening
- Hand clenching
- Finger sucking
- Stretching and fidgeting
- Seeking and rooting
When a baby is experiencing late hunger, they will get cranky and agitated. Calm your infant first before trying to feed them. Skin-to-skin contact through hugging and stroking can get your infant to stop crying.
What are the Signs That They are Full?
Babies, as hungry as they can get, will eventually feel full. However, it can be hard to tell when your kid has had enough milk, especially during the first weeks of nursing.
Some signs of fullness include:
- Turning away from the nipple
- Hands relaxing
- Mouth closing
- Ignoring the breast or the bottle
- Falling asleep
You can burp your baby and check their diaper after feeding them. You can also try to offer your other breast if your child is still hungry. But if they ignore it, then it means they’re full.
Being aware of your baby’s hunger cues will make it easier for you to know when they need to eat. In general, newborns need nursing every 2 to 3 hours, and that number will later increase to 3 to 4 and 4 to 5 hours as they age.
But Why is My Baby Still Hungry After Breastfeeding?
For some babies, one breastfeeding session isn’t enough. You might notice hunger cues even after nursing time. Some reasons your infant still wants a second serving include:
They’re Growing Up So Fast
Wanting more milk is a natural part of growing up for babies. Your kid will experience growth spurts at different points of their development. And a sudden spike in size means a spike in appetite as well.
Your infant will become hungrier as they grow bigger during their first 12 months. A large appetite, for some parents, might mean it’s time to wean a baby. But weaning should be a gradual process, especially when a baby is still getting used to eating solid food.
There will be other signs of growth spurts from your infant, such as fussiness and changes in sleep. The good news is that this isn’t permanent, and your child will adjust back to their normal eating habits.
You Must Be Cluster Feeding
Another reason your infant is feeling peckish is that you practice cluster feeding. Cluster feeding, or bunch feeding, is when you feed your infant in small, frequent batches over a certain period. Cluster feeding is common among newborns, and it can help mothers adjust and produce their milk supply.
Both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding children can do cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is also connected to growth spurts, as infants need more milk in a short amount of time. Babies also cluster feed before going to sleep.
Cluster feeding can also help infants feel more relaxed and less irritable. Infants find comfort when sucking on something, including their mother’s nipples or a bottle.
Take Note on Your Baby’s Latch
Another reason your infant is still hungry after nursing is their latch. A good latch means comfortable nursing for moms and the most amount of milk for babies. However, an improper latch can lead to your infant not getting as much nutrition, thus staying hungry.
A good latch should feel comfortable and pain-free for the mother. Your baby should be touching your breast with their chin, and their head is pointing straight towards your body. And you should also hear swallowing from your baby.
Tips on Feeding a Hungry Baby
Hungry babies can be a handful. Here are some tips on how to nurse a baby with a big appetite:
- A time-based feeding system is a guide, not a strict schedule. When your baby is hungry, don’t wait another hour to feed them.
- Don’t leave your baby crying before feeding them. Crying will exhaust your baby so much that they will be too sleepy to feed.
- Pay attention to your baby’s weight and diaper. Regular weight gain and soaking 5 to 6 diapers a day are expected from feeding infants.
- Don’t force your infant to feed more once you notice signs of slowing down and disinterest.
Babies need plenty of nutrition for their growing bodies. Your kid relies on your breast milk or formula to grow strong and healthy. But there are times when your baby’s appetite is higher than usual, and for the most part, it’s absolutely okay!
Babies grow every day, so they need more milk to support their development. Growth spurts are common at a young age, so your baby will be craving more feeding. So keep an eye out for any hunger cues.
The good news is that as long as your infant needs your milk, you wouldn’t run out of it. Your breasts are continuously producing and supplying milk as long as your baby demands it. So if junior wants another round of feeding, that’s just another way of saying that they’re growing strong and healthy.