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Newborn Basics

Q&A: Is Baby Hungry Or Tired?

How can I tell whether my baby is hungry or tired?

In our practice we see many parents inadvertently feed babies when they are actually tired. Feeding a tired baby teaches him that when he is tired, it is time to eat. If this happens repeatedly, your baby may begin to associate falling asleep with having a full belly. This is okay for the first few months of life, but becomes a challenge when parents want their baby to sleep through the night. The best way to ensure that a baby isn't hungry is by following a daily schedule (after four months of age most breastfed babies can go at least three hours between feedings). As a rule of thumb, a truly hungry baby will rarely choose sleeping over eating. So, if your baby falls asleep in your arms without taking a full feeding, it's likely he was tired — not hungry.

By Conner Herman and Kira Ryan, cofounders of Dream Team Baby