Hungry babies

As a parent, it can feel as though your life revolves around your baby’s feeding routine - especially if you have a newborn.

If there’s one thing all babies have in common, it’s that they’re unlikely to waste any time in telling you that they’re hungry. However, all babies are different, and whether they’re fed with breastmilk or infant formula, some babies may be hungrier than others. As such, you may start to wonder why your baby seems constantly hungry, even after they’ve finished feeding.

Let’s take a look at what it means to have a hungry baby, how to recognise those all-important baby feeding cues, and some techniques you can use to make feeding your baby as stress-free as possible. 


Signs your baby is hungry - baby feeding cues 

Even before your baby can talk, they have their own ways of communicating about what it is they need. A hungry baby will give you clear signs that they’re ready for their next feed by using sounds and movements. These are known as baby feeding cues1 and they include2:

  • Putting their fingers into their mouth.
  • Becoming fussy, restless or fidgety and starting to wriggle.
  • Seeking out and looking/rooting for a feed.
  • Opening and closing their mouth.

If your baby is hungry, crying is one way of them communicating that to you. However, crying isn’t the only sign of hunger. In fact, your baby is likely to let you know that they’re hungry long before they start to cry.

Spotting the subtle baby feeding cues early will mean that you can feed your hungry baby before they become too upset, making their feeds easier. Sometimes though, this isn’t always possible, so if your baby does become upset, give them a cuddle and try to soothe them, as this may help to calm them before they feed3.

It really helps to understand baby feeding cues as they’ll prove very useful for knowing when your baby is starting to feel hungry, or when they’ve had enough. It may take some time before you get the hang of things and feel confident that your baby’s getting the milk they need, but rest assured you’ll get there with time and practice.  

How do I tell if my baby is still hungry?

Whether you’ve got a breastfed baby, or you’re bottle feeding with infant formula, knowing when your baby has had enough milk isn’t always easy. This is especially the case during those early days and weeks.

To recognise when your baby isn’t hungry anymore, look out for them2:

  • Closing their mouth.
  • Turning their head away from your breast or their bottle.
  • Ignoring the bottle or your breast.
  • Slowing down or falling asleep during a feed.
  • Relaxing their hands.

Whilst it’s not possible to overfeed a breastfed baby4, this is not the case for infant formula fed babies. If you’re bottle feeding, keep in mind that it’s completely normal for your baby to leave some milk in their bottle, and they should never be forced to finish their feed. Remember that your baby will need to use a different sucking action when drinking from a bottle teat than they would at your breast5. When feeding from the bottle, your baby may drink too quickly, causing them to overfeed. 

Paced bottle feeding

If you’re combination feeding, or exclusively bottle feeding with either breastmilk or infant formula, you could try a technique known as paced bottle feeding. This enables your baby to have some control over the flow of milk and the amount they drink. Paced bottle feeding is intended to mimic the pace of how your baby would breastfeed and is characterised by short rests in between taking smaller amounts of milk3. One of the additional benefits here is that it allows you to recognise any baby feeding cues, giving you a better idea of whether or not your baby has had enough. 

You can learn more about paced bottle feeding here.

My baby is constantly hungry  

As your baby grows, so will their appetite. Just when you think you’ve got to grips with establishing a feeding routine, your baby may well be ready to change things up once again. 

Your baby will go through several growth spurts during childhood, and a number of these will happen during their first 12 months of life. Growth spurts can result in your hungry baby being even hungrier for a period, and needing more milk than they usually would. This is completely normal and is a good indication that your baby is growing and developing in a healthy way.

This is one of the reasons why healthcare professionals recommend that you feed your baby ‘on demand’ rather than following a set feeding schedule or routine. This is also known as ‘responsive feeding’, and involves feeding your baby when they’re hungry, and following their feeding cues3.

If you have any concerns at all about the amount of milk your baby is taking, or any other worries about how they’re feeding, don’t hesitate to speak with your GP or healthcare professional for advice.

Cluster feeding  

If you find yourself dealing with a constantly hungry baby, then cluster feeding may be at play. Cluster feeding happens when your baby wants to feed more frequently for a while. It’s very common, especially during your baby’s first four months, and can often be a signal that your baby is going through a growth spurt6.

Is my baby ready for solid food?

Sometimes, having a hungry baby with an increased appetite leads many parents to wonder whether their baby is ready to wean.  However, weaning isn’t recommended until your baby reaches around six months of age. Up until then, your baby will get all the nutrients they need from breastmilk or infant formula, and their digestive system isn’t developed enough for solid food7.

To find out more about weaning, and spotting when your baby is ready for their first tastes of solid foods alongside their breast or infant formula milk, take a look here

Is it really hunger? 

When your baby’s appetite increases, it’s tempting to put it down to them just being a hungry baby. And it may well be the case that your baby has a bigger appetite than other babies that you know. However, if your baby has been fed, but remains unsettled, it’s important to understand that there may be other reasons for this beyond being hungry.

Crying is a good example of what we mean here. Whilst crying is one of the ways in which a hungry baby will tell you that they’re ready to feed, there are a variety of reasons as to why your baby might be upset. It could be a sign of your baby8:

  • Being tired and overstimulated.
  • Needing to have their nappy changed.
  • Being too cold or too hot.
  • Being bored and wanting a cuddle.
  • Having reflux.

If you find that your baby continues to cry, even though they’ve been recently fed, it might be due to colic, a condition which is defined by the NHS as occurring when your baby cries without an obvious cause9. Colic can be quite stressful to deal with as a parent, so don’t hesitate to seek advice and support from a healthcare professional if you need it. To learn more about why your baby might be crying and why it’s such an important part of their communication, take a look here.

Some babies, both breast and formula fed, like to suck simply for comfort’s sake, even if they’re not hungry. It’s not uncommon for babies to mistake their need for food for their need for comfort, which can make it difficult for you to do the same. That’s why being able to recognise baby feeding cues is both helpful and important.

Your baby's future health begins here

At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; and that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

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Get in touch with our Careline experts

Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. Need instant assistance? Our WhatsApp Customer Support team is here to help on-the-go!

  1. NHS The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. Feeding cues and rooming in [online]. Available at [Accessed September 2023]
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Signs Your Child is Hungry or Full. [Online] 2021. Available at: [Accessed September 2023]
  3. NHS Start for Life. Feeding on demand [online]. Available at,the%20teat%20of%20the%20bottle. [Accessed September 2023]
  4. NHS. Breastfeeding: the first few days [online] 2023. Available at's%20fine%20to%20feed%20your,to%20overfeed%20a%20breastfed%20baby. [Accessed September 2023]
  5. NHS Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals. Potential Risks/Problems in Giving Formula to a Breastfed Baby (when there is no medical need) [online] Booklet. Available at [Accessed September 2023]
  6. NHS Start for Life. Cluster feeding [online]. Available at's%20when%20your%20baby%20wants,going%20through%20a%20growth%20spurt. [Accessed September 2023]
  7. NHS Start for Life. How to start weaning your baby [online]. Available at's%20when%20your%20baby%20wants,going%20through%20a%20growth%20spurt. [Accessed September 2023]
  8. NHS. Soothing a crying baby [online] 2022. Available at,tiredness. [Accessed September 2023]
  9. NHS. Colic [online] 2022. Available at [Accessed September 2023]

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