Reading Hunger and Fullness Cues
6 to 9 Month Edition
Rachel Kolfsky MA RD CSP CDN
Once you think you can read your baby’s mind, it will change. That’s how this parenting thing works. This is very true with navigating your baby’s hunger and fullness cues too. Your baby is learning to communicate without words – which is pretty cool, but cue the confusion! Now that solids are in the picture let’s take another look at how to read your baby.
Cues your little one is hungry
- Opening hands and mouth
- Reaching for the feeling spoon or food that is displayed
- Pointing to food
- Excitement when food present
Cues that your little one is full
- Closing lips
- Turning their head away
- Interest in their surroundings other than the food
- Pushing food or the utensils away
- Shaking head
Other things you must keep in mind as you read your baby’s hunger and fullness cues
Now, read on if there has been a time when you think to yourself “mom knows best, and you need to eat more” or “dad thinks you didn’t get enough”…
Your baby knows what he/she needs
Babies are born with the ability to command breastmilk when hungry and stop when full. There is a theory in nutrition that states that everyone is born to be an intuitive eater, because even as infants we can read our own hunger and fullness cues. Some argue that parents are the ones who take away this innate skill!
Your role is to trust that your baby will take what he/she needs
As a parent, our role is to read our baby’s hunger and fullness cues and trust their ability to regulate how much their little bodies need. This is true when babies are only bottle and breastfed. It’s also true now that your little one has graduated to a combination of that and solid foods.
Remember the amount your baby will eat will vary
Think of your own body. Some days you eat more than others. This is true with your baby too. This is normal. There is no need to force your kid to eat or beg them to eat. It will all be ok. If you are the kind of person who likes to track and compare, you might need to relax a bit. Try not to have a consumption goal for your baby. This is hard to zone out when it’s everywhere. You can cover up the ounce lines from bottles and baby food jars.
Special consideration if your kid is not growing well
If your child is not growing well, then Fooblie has other ways to support you, like connecting with a coach like me! If your child has dropped from his or her own growth curve, we do need to take special attention to how much your baby eats. Need a refresher on growth charts and curves or failure to thrive? Your pediatrician will tell you if this applies to your baby. Don’t freak out. A few of our Fooblie coaches have gone through this with their own kids. Hear that?! This happens to kids of nutrition experts too.
Us adults need to be mindful of our own hunger and fullness cues
When we’re older, the ability to ‘read’ our own hunger and fullness cues is another skill. Are you eating because you’re hungry, bored, lonely, etc. Being attuned to our bodies in this way is thought to prevent obesity and other chronic disease. You can teach your child to be a mindful eater as they get older. Start with eliminating distractions during meals like the TV. More on that when the time is right. Until then…