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Feeding cues

Babies show us that they are hungry long before they cry.

Watch your baby instead of the clock.

feeding cues

By recognising and responding to early feeding cues, you can offer a breastfeed to your baby when they are alert and ready but still calm. In this way, your baby will attach and feed more effectively. 

When babies are ready for a feed they might:

feeding cues
  • turn their head from side to side  

  • open their mouth 

  • move their hand to mouth 

feeding cues
  • suck their lips and hands 

  • become restless  

  • make cooing or sighing sounds. 

feeding cues

I'm ready for a feed now Mum.

Why are feeding cues important?   

Feeding your baby when they show early cues: 

  • gives your baby an opportunity to attach and feed well  

  • satisfies your baby's hunger and thirst 

  • keeps your milk supply up  

  • lets your baby know you are there when they need you. 

If a baby gets no response, their feeding cues may escalate to: 

  • tense, jerky movements of their arms and legs 

  • crying

When your baby is crying: 

  • they may have more difficulty attaching to your breast 

  • they may not feed well 

  • you may find your nipples become sore if your baby isn’t well-attached 

  • it's harder to calm baby down to feed. 

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022

Read more about getting breastfeeding started

Online interactive session free for members

Newborn Virtual Village - Learning your baby's feeding and other cues

new parents viewing laptop

Evidence-led info and practical tips from our Breastfeeding Information Series

Breastfeeding: an introduction

Introduction booklet