Updated: Jun 1
It’s natural for parents to be worried about the amount of food and nutrients their little one is getting. Although nutrition guidelines outline amounts that are needed to meet a child’s needs, it is crucial to listen to babies when they let you know they have had enough food (even if you don’t think they have had enough). Recognising and responding to your child’s cues of hunger and satiety (fullness) is the best way to feed.
Baby hunger cues
Although babies can’t verbally tell us when they’re hungry or full, they show us with nonverbal cues. So, you’ll have to be guided by their actions and signs saying whether they want to eat or when they want to stop eating. Here are some common feeding cues parents should be aware of.
Common baby cues for 'I’m full'
Turns head away when the spoon is coming
Pushes spoon away
Indicates getting down from the highchair.
Common baby cues for 'I’m hungry'
Reaches for the spoon
Points to the food
Gets excited when food is presented
Leans forward with their mouth open
Shows distress when cues aren’t listened to.
If you have taken an approach where the baby is in charge of feeding themselves from the start, then they will drive the speed of feeding and the amounts eaten. If you have chosen to feed your baby by spoon, you need to make sure you are feeding in a way that is right for the baby in terms of speed, and the amount and you stop when they let you know they have had enough.
Importance of Responsive feeding
When parents fail to respond to a baby's hunger or fullness cues, a baby can develop poor appetite control and overeat. This can result in long-term health implications such as obesity risk and emotional eating.
Responsive feeding is simply about maintaining a baby’s natural ability to regulate their appetite and form the basis for all healthy feeding practices. Remember children will eat variable amounts at different ages and stages of their development. Take comfort in knowing that your baby knows when they need food or not, much better than us. They’ll let you know in their own way. You just have to read the signs!
To learn more about starting solids foods secure your spot at our Starting Solids and Infant Sleep Masterclass. To learn about the toddler diets and how to feed the fussy eater, book our Toddler Masterclass to hear more from our Dietitian Expert Shae Rickards from Bellamy's Organic.