Feeding Frequency and Hunger Cues

Become a master-feeder in no time.

You’ve come to know your little person pretty well so far, so you’ve probably noticed that they eat quite frequently! Naturally, their stomachs are so small, they can only hold in a small amount of milk at one time. So how often should they eat? 

When it comes to frequency of feedings, it depends on your baby’s age, weight and individual needs, but on average, expect newborns to breast- or bottle-feed eight to 12 times in a 24-hour span.

We can’t stress it enough: every baby is different, which means that the frequency of feedings varies from baby to baby. Some newborns may need to eat every two to three hours, others may be able to go for longer stretches between feedings. 

The important thing is to follow your baby’s specific hunger cues and allow them to nurse or bottle-feed for as long as they need. 

What are those hunger cues? There are many, but often they look like:

  • Rooting Reflex: A newborn will turn their head toward your hand or the nipple and open their mouth when they feel pressure on their cheek; this is known as the rooting reflex.
  • Sucking on Hands or Fingers: A newborn may start to suck on their hands or fingers, indicating that they are hungry and looking for something to eat.
  • Crying: Well, yeah. Often a late hunger cue, crying can indicate that the baby is hungry, especially if it’s accompanied by other cues. 
  • Smacking or Licking Lips: Much like when someone sees a plate of chicken wings, a newborn may start to smack or lick their lips, indicating that they are getting ready to feed. 
  • Stirring or Fussing: A newborn may start to stir or fuss, becoming more active and restless, which can be a sign that they are ready to eat. 


For the uninitiated, a baby’s hunger cues may bring stress: Why is the baby crying? Why are they fussing? More often than not, they’re just hungry. But you’ll get these cues down; billions of parents across the world and history figured them out — you will, too!

And remember, if you have concerns about your baby's feeding schedule or cues, it's best to consult with a pediatrician for personalized advice.