To avoid mis-reading the baby’s hunger signs, it is helpful to learn to understand your baby’s signs and trust your instincts. The following normal behaviours can be mistaken for hunger signs.
If a baby’s cheek is touched or stroked, the baby will turn its head toward the stroking. They may also open their mouths slightly. This is called the rooting reflex. This behaviour will happen if the baby is not hungry.
If the baby is hungry, babies will still root but may add a slight shaking of the head along with other hunger signs. It is useful for hungry babies because it helps them find the nipple and latch.
2) Happy hand sucking
Happy hand sucking is not a sign of hunger but it can be the start of hunger. All babies suck their hands. If the baby is happy and hand sucking, wait and see what develops. If the baby becomes more hungry, the baby will change from happy to angry or hungry hand sucking within a few minutes.
3) The happy bird
When their top lip is touched, normal babies will open their mouths slightly. This is a reflex. If the baby is not showing any other hunger signs, the baby is not hungry.
4) Sticking their tongue out
Normal babies stick their tongues out. This does not necessarily mean they are hungry. Look for the other hunger signs.
Crying can be a late hunger sign, but babies also cry for other normal reasons.
6) Accepting a bottle
Babies often accept a bottle even though they are not hungry.