7 Signs Baby Is Full, Plus What To Know About Overfeeding

How Do You Know When Your Baby Is Full? And Is Overfeeding A Thing?

December 8, 2020 Updated June 1, 2021

signs-baby-is-full (1)
SeventyFour/Getty Images

Let us guess: You spend so much time worrying about how much your baby is eating that you don’t really think about if your baby is eating too much. Been there! Like many new parents, you probably try to coax your little cutie to finish that last bit of breastmilk or baby formula. Or perhaps you try to get them to eat a little more if they’ve had less than usual. We get it — you just want to make sure your kid has all the sustenance they need. But could your well-intentioned motherly prodding possibly lead to overfeeding your newborn? Basically, you need to know the signs baby is full. Another possible issue? You could be teaching them to ignore their bodies’ hunger and fullness cues.

So, it’s important to be able to tell when your precious nugget doesn’t need to feed. Be on the lookout for the following signs in your baby to know they’re full.

Looking for more baby tips? Check out our baby pages on baby flat headsbaby acneactivities for infants, and more. 

Signs Baby Is Full

We know it can be a little scary to trust that your baby knows when they’re full. It can also be a little confusing since babies’ hunger needs vary day by day and feeding by feeding. Some days they’ll want to eat more, and other days they’ll want to eat less. That’s why understanding your baby’s fullness cues is key.

1. Your baby turns away from the breast and/or bottle.

If your baby turns their head away from the breast or bottle and/or spits out the nipple, then they’ve probably had enough to eat.

2. Your baby is easily distracted.

If your little one is easily distracted by what’s going on around them and wants to play or engage — or, you know, is interested in anything but eating — then they’re probably full.

3. Your little one begins to cry.

You recognize this one, right? It’s every kid’s go-to when it comes to letting you know they’re not happy. If your infant begins to cry or fuss at anytime during the feeding, especially during the beginning, it’s possible they’re not very hungry or have had too much to eat.

4. Your baby relaxes their feet, hands, and/or arms.

When your baby’s body loosens up and relaxes, it may mean that your little one doesn’t want to eat. Even your baby’s little fingers extending could be a clue that they’re in R&R (not F&B) mode.

5. Your little one slows their sucking.

You know how when your baby is hungry they attack your breast or the bottle with gusto, rooting and gulping in mad abandon? Well, if your baby slows down their sucking with lengthier pauses, you can be assured that their tummy is full or getting there.

6. Your infant starts to fall asleep.

When your baby’s eyes start to flutter and you can tell they’re on their way to Slumber City, it might be time to call it quits on the feeding session.

7. Your baby begins to make little noises.

Just like us, babies’ bodies tend to “speak out” when they’re stuffed. So, if your little one gets the hiccups or lets out an impressive wet burp, remember it could be their body’s way of telling you they don’t need anything else to eat.

Signs You’re Overfeeding Your Newborn

Here’s the thing: Overfeeding happens, but is very rare. It mostly occurs with bottle-fed babies, since it’s easier for parents to see how much formula their little one is or isn’t eating. Bottle-feeding also requires less work from the baby than breastfeeding, so it’s easy for them to consume more milk than needed. However, babies come with a great intuitive system that knows when they’re full or hungry. This generally means that they know it’s time to stop eating when they feel full.

In other words, it’s almost impossible to overfeed your newborn — especially if you’re tuned into the cues that signal when they’ve had enough to eat. If you’re concerned about overfeeding your baby and want more information, though, it’s always a good idea to chat with their pediatrician. In most cases, you’ve got nothing to worry about as long as baby is healthy and thriving.

Signs Baby Is Tired

In order to determine if your baby is hungry, it helps to know the signs of sleepiness as well. Each child is different and will give a different cue to show they’re tired. It’s best to catch your baby before they become overtired because once that happens, they will be much harder to put down. To avoid overstimulating them, talk to them quietly and move to a darker room.

Another sign of tiredness includes pulling at their ears, staring into space, crossed eyes, closing their fists, yawning, fluttering eyelids, arching their backs, jerky arm and leg moves, finger sucking, clinginess, frowning, and clumsiness.

A common sign to look out for is the grizzling cry. It’s that gritted noise babies make with their throats that sounds like they’re becoming gremlins. It’s usually a sign of hunger or tiredness. 

Other Helpful Information

Breastfeeding your baby isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and neither is feeding your newborn formula. Figuring out whether your baby’s hungry, tired, or full is enough to make you a little crazy. Woosah, Mama. To help guide you through this critical feeding stage, here are some breastfeeding tips you’ll appreciate.

  • Create a nursing station: Make sure your space has a comfy chair, snacks galore, water, and nursing pads. You’re going to be spending a lot of time there, so it’s important to make it snug and homey.
  • Steer clear of the pacifiers: We get it. When your baby’s upset, that plastic nipple can seem like a lifeline. But it can actually damage your baby’s feeding schedule. A pacifier can replace feelings of hunger during a time when feeding is crucial to your baby’s development.
  • Take care of your breasts’ skin: Your breasts’ skin is very sensitive and when breastfeeding, it’s important to keep it well-nourished. Your nipples and the skin around your areola can become dry and irritated during this period. To avoid making breastfeeding harder than it already is, keep your skin from cracking by following these tips:
    • Avoid overwashing and use a mild soap. Hard cleansers will dry out your skin.
    • Dry off your breasts with a soft cloth after a feeding and let them hang out to dry every now and then.