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Feeding cues

Babies display feeding cues when they are ready for a breastfeed. These may occur with eyes closed or open.

It can be confusing when your baby has their eyes closed, but you don’t need to wait for them to ‘wake up’ before you feed them. The cues with eyes closed are fine for breastfeeding and are the start of a baby signaling hunger and feeding interest.

The feeding cues are:

  • Rooting around with the mouth – opening the mouth and moving the head as if looking for the nipple
  • Sucking movements and sucking sounds – often quite soft sounds
  • Tongue coming out of the mouth and almost licking the lips
  • Hand-to-mouth movements
  • Sucking fingers or hand
  • Opening mouth and possibly turning the head in response to a touch around the mouth area.

These cues are often called early feeding cues. Crying is a late feeding cue.

Early feeding cues are the most useful ones to use when you and baby are learning to breastfeed. It is easier to position and latch a baby at the breast when the baby is not upset and crying.

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