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What are feeding cues and how can you recognize them?

In the first two weeks of life, your milk supply is being established. On the third or fourth day, you have likely noticed an increase in milk and a change from thicker colostrum to thinner white milk. The first two weeks are an important time during which structures are forming within the breast to accommodate the incoming milk supply.

How much milk you will make, is determined by often and how much baby feeds (or how much breasts are pumped) in these first two to six weeks. It is important to respond quickly to baby and offer the breast when you notice a feeding cue. So what are some feeding cues to watch for in the first two weeks of baby's life?

  • Putting a hand or both hands to the mouth. A sure sign that baby is ready to feed.

  • Licking the lips, opening the mouth.

  • Turning their head toward you

  • Opening the eyes.

  • squirming, fussing.

  • Sucking on toes, hands, clothing or blankets.

  • Rooting on the chest of whoever is holding them.

  • Crying. This is a late sign of hunger. Try to respond to baby before they reach this stage if possible.

Basically, any time baby is awake, baby is most likely ready to feed in the first 2 weeks of life. Use caution when using a pacifier, while a useful tool, pacifiers can also cover up signs that baby is hungry and cause baby to fall asleep without feeding. This is a missed opportunity for baby to get a meal, and for your milk supply to be increased. Try offering the breast first before offering a pacifier, and ideally, wait until breastfeeding is going well before using one.

You will not overfeed baby by offering the breast too much, there is no such thing as too much breastmilk when fed directly from the breast. Babies should feed at least 8 times as day, but they may cluster their feeds very close together for a few hours. Sometimes even every 30 minutes! Be assured that this is normal, as long as baby is gaining well, and having some periods of contented rest.

For more information of feeding cues visit:

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