Feeding your child is a powerful instinct. From that very first newborn feeding, you’re naturally driven to meet your baby’s need for nourishment and respond to her hunger. But just as important as knowing when your baby is ready to start eating is knowing when she’s ready to stop.
Babies are born with the ability to regulate how much food they need. They eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. It’s a brilliant system, but unfortunately, it’s also something that tends to gets lost as we get older–and we eat based on what time it is or how much food is on our plates!
When you start feeding your baby solids, it’s also important to know the signals she makes when she’s done too.
As you probably know by now, your baby gives you cues when she’s hungry, like rooting for the breast. In those first few months, you may have also learned a specific cry your baby makes when she’s hungry. But when you start feeding your baby solids, it’s also important to know the signals she makes when she’s done too.
Here are some common signs your baby may be full:
- Turning her face away
- Closing and pursing her lips when you offer a spoon
- Spitting out food
- Pushing food away
- Acting distracted or disinterested
If your baby is showing these signs, respect her fullness and end the feeding session. It’s tempting to encourage your baby to finish, especially if there’s only a bite or two left in the bowl. But pressuring your baby to eat more can start a habit of overeating.
Being able to communicate these messages of fullness is an important skill—and one that babies won’t have before 4-6 months, another reason why starting solids any earlier isn’t smart (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life).
If you’re worried that your baby isn’t getting enough at feedings, keep these in mind:
- Babies only need about a tablespoon or two of each food at mealtimes at first. It may take some time for your baby to get the hang of solids, and in the meantime, breast milk and formula are providing lots of good nutrition.
- It’s natural for your baby to reject some foods (even foods she liked last week!) or eat more one day than the next. Fluctuations in appetite and preferences are normal.
- Your pediatrician can tell you if your baby’s growth is on track, which can help you know if she’s getting enough to eat.
Honoring your baby’s hunger and fullness is an important part of the feeding process–and one that will truly serve her well throughout her life!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Stonyfield. The content provided, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you have any questions about health or nutrition, we always think it’s best to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner.