Early newborn feeding cues are key to successful breastfeeding. If you can master these early feeding cues in your new little one, your chances of success are so much higher. There are a few stages of early newborn feeding cues, each increasing until you may have to do more work to latch the baby onto your breast. Waiting to feed after your little nugget is screaming leads to nipple pain and frustration.

Why I am here and who I am:

Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!

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Take the time now to educate yourself, take an online breastfeeding class like this one, and be prepared. Make sure to check out our amazing Boho Nursing Cover. Join our Tribe and get special deals on all our products, tons of advice, and FREEBIES!! (DOWN BELOW) Let me know what you think in the comments!

Early Newborn Feeding Cues

A quiet alert state

This quiet alert state is a feeding cue in the newborn. They might be wiggling their head from side to side while opening and closing the mouth. The head will go from side to side. Newborn feeding cues are simple once you recognize them. Watch your baby and learn their behaviors.


If the baby is trying to suck on its hands, your hands, your cheek, and clothes. The baby is saying hey put that nipple into my mouth. This is a perfect time to achieve a good latch. Related Post: Does your baby have a Dairy Allergy?

Mouth Opening and Closing

Your newborn will begin to open and close their mouth rhythmically as they begin to feel hungry. This is a perfect time to get a good strong latch. Take advantage of their open mouth which is your signal, “Hey, I'm hungry but not hangry”

Mid-level to Hangry newborn feeding cues

Hand to mouth

The newborn does not have fantastic coordination, however, when you miss the above newborn feeding cues, their hand in the mouth is clear. If the newborn has their hand to the mouth, sit your bottom down and feed her. Related Read: The first feed after birth isn't always easy

Squirmy, wiggly, fast-breathing

Alright momma, don't wait any longer, because all hell is fixing to break loose. If your little guy is starting to get agitated (unless you just fed him, which warrants an investigation into the alternative cause) then it's time to get this party started. Breastfeeding at this stage is still possible but may lead to a more frantic feed.

Rooting on great-grandma Louise

Rooting is another medium level newborn feeding cue. If your little one is rooting on everyone who snuggles them, you need to take advantage of this feeding cue and feed.

Hell is unleashed newborn feeding cues

Frantic & panicky

This is past, I can sit down and latch for breastfeeding quietly and easily. When your newborn exhibits frantic breastfeeding cues, you will need to calm her down first. If you do not, you will end up with an improper latch and a sore nipple. That purely stinks, so don't let your baby get to these feeding cues or everyone involved will have tears. 

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Screaming their head off

Too late. Now, you've made way too much work for yourself. Go straight to jail. Again, Do not latch your baby when he is exhibiting these later newborn feeding cues. If you latch and begin breastfeeding while they are frantic or screaming, you will end up with extremely sore nipples and hate life.

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Just a little Disclaimer: As always, I am just writing my thoughts and what I’ve learned along the way. Although I am in fact a labor and delivery RN, This is not medical advice. You should always seek and follow the advice of your care provider.

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