Babies can’t talk, but they can show you when they want to eat! They do this by showing special feeding cues. Watch for these cues and feed baby whenever you see them for as long as he wants. This helps your baby be happier and cry less. It also helps you make more milk so your baby can grow well.

Your body is amazing! You have the ability to feed and comfort your baby at the same time. Your baby’s cues make it easier to know when!

Mom
  • It’s easy to spot his cues when baby stays with you. It’s even easier when you keep him on your chest skin to skin.
  • Watch for baby’s feeding cues. He might suck on his hands or fingers, or turn his head toward things that touch his cheek.
  • Feed your baby at least 8-12 times every 24 hours.
  • Offer your breast and let baby nurse as long as he wants. When he gets sleepy or comes off on his own, you can offer the other breast.
  • If you missed baby’s cues, he will become distressed and cry. Calm him so he can use his natural instincts to feed. Here’s how.
    • Gently move or sway him.
    • Offer a clean finger for him to suck on.
    • Talk softly to him.

Building Trust

Babies feed when they’re hungry, when they need comfort, or want to suck. Your baby will show you feeding cues when he’s ready. When you respond to baby’s cues, he learns to trust that you will meet his needs. This makes him feel secure so he cries less. As long as you respond to his cues, he will keep showing them.

When Baby Cries

If you missed baby’s feeding cues, he sends out a frantic distress signal by crying. Loudly! Baby is mad and upset now, so forcing him to feed may make him cry even more. Calm him first to lower his stress. Then watch for feeding cues next time so he doesn’t have to cry to get your attention.

Pacifiers

Your baby prefers you over a pacifier! A pacifier makes it hard to see your baby’s feeding cues. It can also cause problems with breastfeeding. If you really want to use a pacifier, wait until about a month after your baby is born. Pacifiers will not interfere with feeding then.

  • I have a strange empty feeling in my tummy.
  • See my cues that I’m ready to eat.
  • I open and close my mouth.
  • I suck on my lips, tongue, hands, or fingers.
  • I move my head toward things that touch my cheek.
  • I move or bob my head from side to side.
  • I breathe fast and begin to fuss.
  • I smell my mom now. Food and comfort are near!
  • A full tummy feels good. I fall asleep and come off your breast on my own.

As mom’s champion, you can help her look for baby’s feeding cues.

  • Learn about the feeding cues that show when babies are ready to eat.
  • When baby shows these cues, bring the baby to the mom so she can hold him skin to skin.
  • If baby is crying, help her calm the baby first. Gently sway the baby and talk softly.
  • Tell mom she is doing a great job!

Mom Needs Support

After the baby is born, mom may be tired and in pain. It’s hard to be patient while baby is learning to feed if you don’t feel well. When baby cries, it’s easy to become frustrated.

How you Help

As her champion, you can help her get the rest she needs. Suggest she take a nap, and watch the baby while she rests. Gently wake her when you see that the baby is getting restless and showing feeding cues. Lay the baby on her chest skin to skin. If baby is already upset and crying, help her calm the baby so she can feel more relaxed.

There’s no greater feeling than knowing you are the one who comforts and satisfies your baby when he needs it most.

  • When baby feeds on cue often, he is more content and cries less.
  • Your baby learns the power of love when he is close to you. This helps you care for your baby more easily once you’re home.
  • The more you feed your baby, the more milk you make!
  • Your milk flows sooner.
  • Frequent feedings also help keep your breasts from getting engorged.

Magical Process

At first, your body makes only small amounts of your first milk. It is the perfect amount (around a teaspoon) to fill your baby’s small tummy. Lots of frequent, small feedings help your baby’s small tummy stretch and grow. Soon you will begin making more milk. By then, your baby’s tummy is the right size to handle it.

Wow! It doesn’t get any more magical than that!

Baby wants to feed all the time

Don’t worry. Your baby will not always need to feed this often. Right at first his small tummy holds only a little, so it has to be filled often. Hold your baby skin to skin to help him calm between feedings. Be patient and treasure this time of closeness with your baby. Soon it will get easier.

Others think you are nursing baby too much

Family and friends might think that all this feeding is spoiling the baby. That is not true! Babies need to eat often to grow and gain weight. It is also not possible to spoil a newborn. Lots of feeding and cuddling make your baby more secure.

You aren’t sure about your baby’s cues

Your baby will have his own way to tell you when he wants to feed. Give it time and soon you and your baby will get in sync. If you aren’t sure, ask your nurse to help you.

Baby needs special care

Sometimes babies go to the Special Care Nursery or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. This helps the doctor and nurse watch your baby more closely. If you and your baby will be apart for more than an hour after the birth, express your milk by hand or with a breast pump. If your baby cannot stay in your room with you, ask if you go to your baby. If your baby is not able to breastfeed, ask your nurse for a breast pump to express your milk.

You have chosen to formula feed your baby

All babies show feeding cues, no matter how they are fed. When you watch for those cues, your baby will be less likely to eat too much.

How often should I feed my baby?

Plan to nurse your baby every time he shows feeding cues. Your baby needs to eat at least 8-12 times every day. Lots of nursing helps quiet your baby and helps you make more milk.

Why does my baby cry?

Babies cry for lots of reasons besides hunger. Babies fuss when they are too hot or too cold. They cry when they are tired. They cry when too many people hold them. They fuss when they want to be warm and snuggly in your arms.

What about the second night?

Most babies are sleepy during the first day and become more alert by the second night. They can easily get over stimulated from the hospital activity and cry a lot. They often want to feed nonstop to feel safe and calm. Just hold her baby skin to skin and feed him when he wants. Soon he will settle.

Should I wake my baby to nurse him?

Birth is tiring, so most babies sleep a lot at first. If baby is still sleeping 3-5 hours after the last feed began, you can try to wake him. Change his diaper, unwrap him, and place him on your chest skin to skin. He will wake slowly and calmly.

What if my baby is in a deep sleep?

It’s easier for baby to wake when you wait until he’s in a light sleep. Watch his eyelids! You’ll see fluttering under his eyelids and maybe even see him smile in his sleep. He will wake more easily now.

I’m not sure I want to breastfeed.

Rooming-in is good for all babies and moms, no matter how they are fed. Every baby needs to feel warm and secure in the arms of his mother. And all moms want a baby who is happier and more content.
  • Be aware of baby’s feeding cues, and point them out to new moms.
  • Educate mothers about the importance of frequent feeding on cue.
  • Support policies and protocols that enable mothers and babies to stay together during the hospital stay.
  • Support policies and protocols that enable mothers to keep their babies with them skin to skin throughout the hospital stay.
  • Encourage mothers not to introduce a pacifier to their baby until 3-4 weeks after the baby’s birth.
  • If the mother and baby must be separated for special care, assure that the baby is returned to the mother, or she is allowed to go to the baby, as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of baby’s feeding cues.
  • Teach moms to recognize early infant feeding cues and encourage her to feed baby on cue rather than on a set schedule.
  • Teach mothers that babies should feed 8-12 times every 24 hours.
  • Teach mothers about baby’s behaviors on the second night on day 1 so mothers are prepared.
  • Support policies and protocols that enable mothers and babies to stay together during the hospital stay.
  • Encourage the mother to hold her baby skin to skin when possible throughout the hospital stay.
  • Encourage mothers not to introduce a pacifier to their baby until 3-4 weeks after the baby’s birth.
You and your baby make a perfect team. Together, you can do it!

For your baby, home is in your arms. Baby finds all he needs there: food, love, warmth, comfort, and safety. That’s why on the second day or night, when most babies wake more, fuss, or cry, your arms are where he wants to be! Baby will stay calmer and more content when he stays close.

There are lots of ways you can decrease baby’s crying and soothe him when he is upset.

Mom
  • Dim the lights and keep your room calm. Ask your champion to help limit the time visitors are in your room so you can rest.
  • Keep baby in your room with you so you can quickly begin to learn what your baby wants.
  • Hold baby skin to skin so he is close to you.
  • Offer your breast often. Babies nurse for comfort, not just for milk.
  • Babies love motion! Rock or gently sway the baby back and forth. Sing or talk softly to baby.
  • Gently stroke or massage baby’s back, arms, and legs. Or let baby suck on your clean finger.

The Second Day

On the first day of life, babies are often very sleepy. By day two things change! Babies tend to wake more and are much more alert! If a lot of people were in the room or it is noisy, baby can become bothered and cry a lot. Most babies want to feed a lot on day two. This does not always mean they are hungry. It often means baby is ready to practice feeding and needs lots of comfort at your breast. This is where he feels safe and calm. Just hold the baby skin to skin and feed him when he wants.

Why Babies Cry

Babies cry for lots of reasons! They fuss when they are too hot or too cold. They cry when they are tired or when it is too loud. They cry when too many people hold them. They cry if they are not comfortable or they have a wet or dirty diaper. Babies also get upset if the way you are latching the baby is not working for them, or they are hungry.

Watch for Signs Baby is Getting Unhappy

Many babies give signs they need something from you before they start to cry. Baby might frown, arch his back, or tense up his face or body. He may push away or turn from you. Baby might grunt or make other sounds that show he is annoyed. When you respond to these special signs you teach baby you are here to meet his needs. Use calming techniques as soon as you see baby is getting upset.

    After a day of sleeping, I am starting to wake up more. It’s very noisy and I see a lot of faces that are not my mom. I am cold and I feel strange things touching my tender skin. I cry because I’ve had enough. I want to be close to my mom again.

It takes a team to help create calm, especially on the second day of baby’s life!

  • Help make the room quiet for baby and mom. This means asking visitors to stay for shorter periods so mom and baby can rest.
  • When baby gets fussy, stay calm and patient so you can help mom say calm.
  • Calm the baby if he gets upset. Gently sway or rock the baby and talk softly.
  • Remind mom that babies cry for lots of reasons. Help her watch for baby’s signs he is not happy before he gets upset.
  • Stay with mom on the second day and night when baby is likely to be more upset.

Why Mom Needs Support

After the baby is born, mom may be tired and in pain. It’s hard to be patient with a fussy baby if you don’t feel well. When you remain calm it can help mom stay calm, too. Offer to help calm the baby while she takes a break. Remind her that baby wants to be at her breast for comfort, not just for food.

How to Calm a Fussy Baby

Mom is not the only one baby wants to be near! Babies also love being close to dad, too. Hold the baby skin to skin so baby can feel your deep vocal cords when you sing or talk softly. Dads and other family members can also calm a fussy baby by holding the baby close and rocking or swaying him gently.

Once you learn more about your baby in the early days, it will be easier to soothe him before he gets too upset.

  • Keeping baby close, skin to skin, helps you learn your baby’s cues and when he needs calming.
  • A calm baby can use his energy to grow.
  • Breastfeeding is easier for baby to learn when he is not upset.
  • Baby learns to trust those around him to meet his needs.
  • Learning how to calm the baby while you have help nearby will help you feel confident once you’re home.

A Time to Learn

The hospital stay is the best time to learn your baby! Baby is ready to teach you, and being close will help you have the time you need to get in sync right away. This helps baby learn quickly that you will meet his needs. The hospital nurses and lactation consultants are also there to help. They can show you cues your baby gives so you will know how to meet his needs.

You're tired

Let’s face it. Giving birth is tiring, and you will to rest to recover. That’s why it’s crucial to rest every chance you can, especially on the first day when baby is sleepy. When baby wakes up more on day two, ask your champion to be with you to help you keep the baby calm.

You don’t know why baby is upset

It takes time to learn your baby. And sometimes it seems baby cries for no reason. Even though you may not know why baby is crying, you can hold your baby skin to skin and try different calming methods. If you aren’t sure, ask your nurse to help you.

Baby seems to want to feed all the time

Right at first baby needs lots of very small feedings. His tummy is tiny and cannot hold much milk, so it’s best to give him a little very often. That’s why breastfeeding is perfect for your baby’s needs. Just enjoy this time of closeness. Soon it will get easier.

You wonder if you’re making enough milk

Most moms do not feel the breast changes that signal more milk until after they go home from the hospital. But you can be sure you have just what your baby needs and in the right amount right now!

Your family and friends think you should give formula

Other people might think a fussy baby is hungry and needs formula. But that may not be true! Babies also fuss and cry because they want to be held close to mom or they are bothered by things going on around them. Follow baby’s lead by holding him skin to skin. He’ll show you when he needs to feed and when he just wants to be close.

Will holding the baby spoil him?

It is not possible to spoil a newborn. Lots of feeding and cuddling make your baby more secure, not spoiled. A secure baby is more content and cries less.

How will I know baby if baby is hungry or not?

Babies cry for lots of reasons besides hunger. To know for sure, watch for baby’s feeding cues. Baby will suck on his hands and fingers, turn his head from side to side, or make mouthing movements. Keeping baby close, skin to skin, will help baby latch on whenever he is hungry.

Why is the second day so hard for all of us?

By the second day, everyone is tired! If there were a lot of visitors on day one, mom may not have rested much. You are also recovering from the birth. Babies become much more alert by the second day or night. They get easily over stimulated from the hospital activity. Crying is their way of saying, “I’ve had enough!” Try to be patient and have your champion with you. Hold baby skin to skin and feed when he wants. Soon he will settle.

What can I do to get my baby to sleep longer?

Babies wake for many reasons. They wake when they have a wet or dirty diaper. They wake when they are too hot or too cold. They wake when they are hungry. They wake when they are having trouble breathing or they just aren’t comfortable. They wake when they are in a light sleep phase and the room is noisy. When baby wakes, try to find out what baby needs.

Why does my baby wake up as soon as I put him down?

It takes babies 20-30 minutes or so to go into a deeper sleep. His first sleep is lighter and he dreams more. This is crucial for his brain to develop! If baby is put down in this light sleep phase, he may wake up quickly. Try holding him a little longer to get through his light sleep phase before putting him down.
  • Be aware of baby’s feeding cues and point them out to new moms.
  • Emphasize to new mothers the importance of rest. Remind her that she will rest better when her baby is near her.
  • Educate mothers about the importance of keeping baby close for skin-to-skin care in the early days.
  • Educate mothers about why babies cry and why babies wake so parents can set realistic expectations.
  • Educate parents about ways to soothe their infant.
  • Correct any myths that family members in the room might have about holding the baby or exclusive breastfeeding.
  • Support policies and protocols that enable mothers and babies to stay together during the hospital stay.
  • Support policies and protocols that enable mothers to keep their babies with them skin to skin throughout the hospital stay.
  • Encourage mothers not to introduce a pacifier to their baby until 3-4 weeks after the baby’s birth.
  • Encourage mothers not to introduce formula unless it is medically needed.
  • Be aware of baby’s feeding cues.
  • Teach moms to recognize early infant feeding cues and encourage her to feed baby on cue rather than on a set schedule.
  • On the first day, teach mothers about baby’s behaviors on the second night so they are prepared.
  • Teach mothers why babies cry, and ways to soothe their infants.
  • Support quiet periods with limited visitors. Help moms discuss their needs with family and friends.
  • Support policies and protocols that enable mothers and babies to stay together during the hospital stay.
  • Encourage the mother to hold her baby skin to skin when possible throughout the hospital stay.
  • Encourage mothers not to introduce a pacifier to their baby until 3-4 weeks after the baby’s birth.
  • Encourage mothers not to introduce formula unless it is medically needed.
Your baby is wired to show you what he needs and when he wants it. Your job: watch for those cues and respond so baby feels loved and secure.
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